I was a salad-hating vegetarian.
The assumption is that if you’re a vegetarian, you love salads. If you go to someone’s house and they don’t have a meatless entree for you, they’ll say, “Don’t worry, you can have extra salad – there’s no meat in that!” And you push it around your plate a little bit and maybe eat a cucumber or two to be polite, then when no one’s looking, you covertly dump that salad onto your husband’s plate and move onto your dinner rolls. Mmm, dinner rolls. So bready!
But now, I’ve embraced salads and you can too! Here’s what helped me get over my salad aversion.
Use Different Greens + Prepare Them Right
Have you seen our Guide to Salad Greens? There are a lot of greens out there besides iceberg and romaine! When people don’t like a food, it always comes down to one of two things: the taste or the texture. For me, both were an issue with lettuce. I didn’t like the crunchiness and I didn’t like that lettuce flavor. Iceberg is completely out for me, but now, I’ll eat romaine if I cut the crunchy stems out. I favor greens that don’t taste lettuce-y, like arugula, spring mixes, and kale. I’m not a fan of raw kale in a salad, but when it’s massaged, grilled, or baked for a few minutes in the oven (yes, really! this is my kale salad secret!), it’s delicious. So find a green or two you like and stick with those when making your salads.
Upgrade Your Dressing
Dressings are tricky for me. I hate gloppy, thick dressings that a lot of restaurants serve – gross! But I’m also not a big fan of vinegar and a lot of lighter dressing options are heavy on that. Some of my favorite dressings are ones made with tahini, almond or peanut butter, or a mixture of oil and lemon or lime juice. If I make my own vinaigrette at home, I go light on the vinegar and I make sure to add sweet elements to the salad, which I find makes the acidity of the vinegar more palatable. I also really like sweet dressings – the Ginger-Lime Dressing for this salad recipe is sweetened with honey.
Add Some Substance + Excitement
A plate of greens and cucumbers with a token tomato or two is not a meal! Not only are those salads not filling, but they’re boring too – I need something to chew on! Something to savor! I need some excitement in my salad! Some of my favorite additions are fresh fruit, marinated tofu or tempeh, chickpeas and other legumes, nuts and seeds, and whole grains. Cooked wheat berries are especially good in a salad because they hold their texture even when sitting in dressing for a while. We have some more ideas for meal-worthy salads here.
This Nectarine and Avocado Salad ticks a bunch of those boxes for me – it’s got fruit, tofu, a sweet homemade dressing made with lime juice, and chewy wheat berries. It manages to be both light and filling at the same time and it’s highly customizable. Brown rice or quinoa can be swapped in for the wheat berries; peaches or oranges for the nectarines; your favorite vinaigrette for the Ginger-Lime Dressing. Make yourself a salad you can enjoy and dig in!
A light-yet-filling salad that's perfect for a summer dinner. Inspired by Better Homes & Gardens' Honey-Lime Rice Salad.
- 1 (5-ounce) package spring mix salad greens
- 2 nectarines, pitted and sliced
- 1 medium avocado, pitted, peeled, and sliced
- 1 cup wheat berries, cooked according to package instructions and cooled
- 1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
- 1 (8-ounce) package marinated tofu, cubed (optional)
- 1/4 cup lime juice
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 2 tablespoons tamari
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons minced cilantro
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh mint
- 2 teaspoons lime zest
- 2 teaspoons minced ginger
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Divide the greens into 4 large bowls. Place the nectarines, avocado, wheat berries, sliced onion, and tofu on top of the greens.
- Whisk together the dressing ingredients and season to taste with salt and pepper. Drizzle the dressing onto the salads and serve.
I used Chimichurri hemp tofu for this salad, but any flavor of baked marinated tofu will work. Add it cold or cook it on an indoor grill or in a skillet first.