December 15, 2017

View as List 9 Unusual Salads to Try

  • Fresh spinach salad with blue cheese, pears and honey

    Hear the word “salad” and you might think of lettuce, tomato, cucumber, and green pepper. Ah, but what about dried currants, shiitake mushrooms, papaya, and cinnamon? Would you ever dream of throwing those into a salad? We did, which makes these unexpected salads not only bigger on taste than your typical salad fare, but also overflowing with an array of vitamins, minerals, and other healthful plant compounds. From the turkey in our Turkey-Papaya Salad to the simulated stale bread in the Panzanella, these nine recipes will bewilder—and delight—you at every bite.

  • 1

    Turkey-Papaya Salad

    Roasted turkey breast on wooden plank

    Both the papaya and kiwi in this salad are excellent sources of vitamin C. The fruits also offer good amounts of fiber, potassium, and the B vitamin folate. Beware, both fruits have enzymes (papain in papaya, actinidin in kiwi) that wreak havoc with protein, so you shouldn’t assemble this salad too long before serving it, or the turkey will get mushy. Any fruit juice blend would be good in the dressing, but we suggest using one that isn’t too sweet.

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  • 2

    Black-Eyed Pea and Shiitake Salad

    Cooked Black Eyed Peas

    There’s not a wilted lettuce leaf to be found in this crunchy, tangy salad. To shell the sugar snaps, start at the bottom tip of the string that runs around both sides of the pod, pull the string up the front, then snap off the stem and pull the string down the back. For a chewier texture and more fiber, use brown rice instead of white rice.

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  • 3

    Roasted Pear Salad with Blue Cheese Dressing

    Green Salad with Pears, Blue Cheese, Walnuts

    Pears are a good source of dietary fiber, including pectin, a type of soluble fiber that may help to lower cholesterol levels. (It’s found in other fruits too, including apples.) And roasting pears intensifies their flavor while making them soft and tender. Choose firm pears, such as Bosc, for this recipe. The sweetness of the fruit is complemented perfectly by the pungent blue cheese that anchors the dressing.

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  • 4

    Moroccan Carrot Salad

    Grated carrots in bowl

    You don’t need to travel across the world to feel like you’re visiting this North African country. Warm spices such as cumin, cinnamon, and coriander are typical of many Moroccan dishes and marry well with the sweet carrots and currants in this salad. The carrots and red bell peppers give this dish much of its crunch, as well as lots of beta carotene, an antioxidant that the body converts into vitamin A.

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  • 5

    Cucumber Salad with Mint-Scallion Dressing

    Sliced cucumber on the wooden board

    A cucumber salad may sound like somewhat of a snooze—but pair it with a dressing made with refreshing lemon, tangy red wine vinegar, and fragrant mint and your taste buds will perk right up. Look for a very firm cucumber that’s rounded right to the ends. Avoid any that have withered, shriveled tips. Beware of cucumbers that bulge in the middle, since they’re likely to be filled with large seeds and have watery, tasteless flesh. 

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  • 6

    Sushi Rice Salad

    sushi rice

    Sushi lovers take note: This recipe is based on the flavors of that Japanese staple—rice vinegar, wasabi, pickled ginger—along with a good helping of nutrient-packed spinach. Spinach offers an impressive array of vitamins and minerals, including vitamin B6, folate, vitamin C, vitamin K, magnesium, manganese, and iron. And it’s exceptionally rich in the carotenoids beta carotenelutein, and zeaxanthin. Look for sushi rice at Asian markets or some supermarkets. Of course, you could make this salad with regular long-grain rice as well.

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  • 7

    Tangerine and Avocado Salad

    avacado and tangerine

    This dish is a veritable flavor explosion, combining the sweetness of tangerines and honey with the zing of lime juice and balsamic vinegar and the creaminess of avocado—plus a hint of heat courtesy of cayenne pepper. If you don’t have tangerines, you can use navel oranges, divided into sections with each section cut into thirds.

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  • 8

    Sweet Potato Salad with Mango-Curry Dressing

    cut sweet potato

    This isn’t your ordinary picnic potato salad. Instead of white potatoes and mayonnaise, we've paired sweet potatoes with a curried dressing that gives the dish a distinct Middle-Eastern flair. High in fiber, vitamins and minerals, and carotenoids, sweet potatoes can keep for a month or longer if stored in a cool, dry place, such as a cellar or pantry. If they’re stored at room temperature, use them within a week.

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  • 9

    Panzanella

    Panzanella Salad

    This Tuscan bread-based salad is often enjoyed in the summer, but we think it would be a waste to limit it to just one season. We recreate the dryness of the stale bread that’s traditionally called for by toasting it. If you like, add a seeded and sliced cucumber for more crunch, or replace the plum tomatoes with halved grape or cherry tomatoes for a lighter feel. 

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