When fresh vegetables are back in season—it’s time to have some salad. But just what is a salad, after all? The word “salad” actually comes from the Latin word for salt, sal, meaning that originally, the word just meant “salted.” In the intervening time, it’s come to refer to most anything—just think of all the different types of salad there are!
In addition to the classic green salad made from various types of lettuce, there are also bean salads, salad made from grains like bulgur, various pasta salads… Germans even eat something called fleischsalat, which is a bit like pasta salad, only with strips of ham replacing the pasta. Don’t worry, we haven’t included that recipe.
What we have done is assembled some of our favorite salad recipes that really showcase the extreme variability of salad in all its forms. But first, a word about that form: when creating a good salad, texture is one of the most important elements. It’s vital to have a mix of different textures. Think back to the last time you had a good salad. It likely had some softer parts, perhaps fruit, soft vegetables like tomatoes, or cheese. It likely had something crunchy like iceberg lettuce, nuts, or croutons. And maybe something creamy like a nice vinaigrette or yogurt sauce.
Just as important as having a mix of textures is having a mixture of flavors. The best salads have a mix of ingredients that hit all the important flavor notes—salty, sour, sweet. If you manage to hit this perfect mixture of flavors and textures, you’re almost guaranteed to have a salad to remember. Check out some of our favorite salad recipes below for inspiration.
Pea and asparagus salad with goat cheese recipe
This salad just sings with springtime flavor. Peas and asparagus are cooked just enough to remain crisp yet tender. The key to not overcooking your peas and asparagus is to move it directly from the boiling water to ice water, halting the cooking process instantly and locking in that bright green color and crisp texture. The sweet vegetables are paired with a funky goat cheese and finished with a light parsley-based pesto, resulting in a pea and asparagus salad that is seasonal, interesting, and a visual stunner!
Italian white bean salad recipe
Have beans ever tasted so fresh? In this deliciously piquant salad, creamy white beans are marinated in white wine vinegar before being mixed with thinly sliced onions, tomatoes, and basil leaves. Extra virgin olive oil brings its characteristic fruitiness to the party, and mixes with the marinated beans to produce a creamy vinaigrette right in the salad bowl! No premixing required. Serve this surprisingly tangy italian white bean salad with greasy grilled meats to cut right through the fattiness.
Vegan cauliflower and potato salad recipe
This is a salad that eats like a main course. It’s main ingredients are potato and cauliflower are braised with spices and tomato. After cooking, allow the salad to cool to room temperature before adding roasted almonds and chopped green onions, which serve to provide some extra flavor as well as that crunchy texture that everyone expects from a good salad. The next time you’re called on for a potluck, bring this vegan potato and cauliflower salad and impress your friends!
Asian glass noodle salad recipe
This asian-inspired salad comes together in a flash, taking barely longer than it takes to prep all the ingredients. The salad gets its crunch from cucumbers, bean sprouts, and bell peppers, while slippery glass noodles provide their characteristic texture. It’s dressed with a sweet mixture of vinegar, soy sauce, and orange juice as well as some asian style aromatics like ginger and cilantro. This asian glass noodle salad is best served chilled, making it great for entertaining since it can be stored in the refrigerator until needed.
Persian eggplant and tomato salad
Visually stunning and intensely flavorful, this Middle Eastern salad is sure to impress. It pairs savory grilled eggplant with intensely salty grilled halloumi cheese, then tosses all of them in a punchy mixture of tomatoes, pickled red onions, and parsley. Pomegranate seeds add pops of sweet tart flavor as well as visual interest. This salad is right at home at a barbecue or on the dinner table. Piled high on a serving bowl, this Persian eggplant and tomato salad is visually spectacular.
Salads—not so simple after all
As you have seen, the world of salads is incredibly diverse and far larger than the dreary Cobb Salad you may picture when you hear the word. Instead, salads are celebrations of contrast, with flavors and textures competing for your attention and, ideally, melding into a beautiful medley of deliciousness. So go forth, salad eater, and teach the world your ways!