salads for people who don't like salad

Michelle Liu
May 16, 2024

I’m not a fan of lettuce; that also means I generally don’t like salads either. So why is someone who skips salads and goes straight to the pizza writing this story for National Salad Month? Because salads don’t have to be limited to leafy greens! These three recipes combine fresh, colorful ingredients for a flavorful and satisfying meal (all while conveniently leaving out lettuce).

This was my favorite meal when I worked overnights. It was simple to make and required no cooking, but it was light, refreshing, and kept me full while I worked. You can eat it right away or refrigerate it before serving for a greater depth of flavor (just slice the avocado when you’re ready to eat). This makes 6 servings.


  • 1 rotisserie chicken, deboned and shredded
  • 1 15-oz. can of corn, drained
  • 2 medium tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 avocado, peeled, pitted, and diced
  • ½ cup fresh basil
  • 3 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 limes, juiced
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Mix chicken, corn, tomatoes, avocados, and fresh basil in a bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and lime juice. Season with salt and pepper. Toss gently.

This salad is perfectly crunchy from the purple cabbage and peanuts. My taste tester (aka my husband) loved this one because it was savory and didn’t take too long to make for dinner. The peanut butter sauce tied it all together!



  • ¾ cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed
  • 1½ cups water
  • 2 cups purple cabbage, shredded
  • 1 cup carrot, grated
  • ¼ cup green onion, thinly sliced
  • ¼ cup peanuts, chopped and roasted


  • ¼ cup smooth peanut butter
  • 3 Tbsp. shoyu
  • 1 Tbsp. maple syrup
  • 1 Tbsp. rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp. sesame oil, toasted
  • 1 tsp. ginger
  • ½ lime, juiced
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes

Add quinoa and water to a medium-sized pot. Bring to a gentle boil over medium-high heat, then reduce to medium-low and simmer until quinoa has absorbed all the water.

For the sauce, whisk together peanut butter and shoyu until smooth. Add remaining sauce ingredients and whisk until smooth. If it seems too thick to pour onto the salad, add a little water.

In a large bowl, combine quinoa, purple cabbage, carrot, and green onion. Pour in peanut sauce and toss until everything is coated. Garnish with peanuts.

When I was buying sweet potatoes from the grocery store, I was surprised at how many different kinds there were! I went with locally grown Okinawan sweet potatoes, which were sweet and creamy, but I think any would work well with this recipe. While we enjoyed this dish on its own, it would also be great wrapped in a tortilla.


  • 2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and diced into ¼-inch cubes
  • 4 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 10-oz. bag frozen corn kernels, thawed
  • 1 15-oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • ¼ red onion, thinly sliced


  • 8 oz. sour cream
  • 2 limes, juiced
  • 1 small clove garlic, minced
  • ¼ tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place sweet potatoes on a baking sheet, drizzle 2 Tbsp. of olive oil, then add cumin and salt. Toss until sweet potatoes are coated in oil and spices. Roast sweet potatoes until soft and slightly browned on the edges, about 30 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool slightly.

For the sauce, mix all ingredients together. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Heat remaining olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add corn and cook until blistered and charred on the edges.

In a large dish, combine sweet potatoes, blackened corn, black beans, red bell pepper, and red onion. Stir to combine. Add sauce until salad is coated.

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