If you’re looking for a light and refreshing salad that skips the lettuce but not the flavor, this is it No lettuce salad is your answer. Filled with garbanzo beans, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers and a delicious dressing on a bed of cottage cheese, it’s a hearty and healthy salad that’s perfect for any meal.
Whether you enjoy this salad as a light meal or as a side dish, it’s a simple and nutritious option that’s anything but boring. We’ve been making a version of this salad for YEARS when we’re hungry for veggies but not looking for a traditional lettuce salad. We really think you’ll love this lettuce-free, flavor-packed salad as much as we do!
Without ingredients for lettuce salad
- Garbanzo Beans: These give our salad a nice, hearty base and bring some protein power.
- Tomatoes: These little gems bring freshness and a hint of sweetness as they make the salad seem alive.
- Red onion: It adds a sharp and delicious kick that elevates the flavor.
- Mini cucumbers: They give the salad that hearty crunch we all love and add a refreshing vibe.
- Balsamic vinegar: This stuff adds some sweet and sugary goodness to our dressing, making it very tasty.
- Olive oil: It pairs perfectly with balsamic vinegar for a simple yet flavorful dressing.
- Fresh lemon juice: This flavorful addition brings a burst of citrus freshness that brightens the entire dish.
- Sea salt: Just a pinch of this magical spice enhances flavors and makes everything taste even better.
- Freshly ground pepper: A slight bitterness that plays nicely with all the other flavors.
- All Bagel Toppings: This is the secret ingredient that makes our salad unique and salty.
- cottage cheese: It’s the creamy, protein-packed base that makes this salad filling and delicious.
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Easy ingredient changes
This salad is super versatile! We always use whatever vegetables we have on hand, so this recipe is really a variation on a super versatile salad. Easy ingredient swaps include:
Cheese: we used 2% cottage cheese, but feel free to use any variety of cottage cheese you like!
Vegetables: any variety of tomato or onion would be an easy swap for the cherry tomatoes and red onion this recipe calls for. Likewise, you can also use any variety of cucumber.
Canned beans: the garbanzo beans in this recipe add nice flavor and protein, but another white bean like cannellini beans will work too.
Nuts and spices: We love the savory flavor of all bagel seasonings, but pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, or a chopped nut like almonds or pecans would also complement this recipe well.
Top tips for lettuce-free salad
Serve immediately or store separately: grab this cottage cheese salad if you plan to serve it right away, but if you plan to prepare it for later, we recommend storing the vegetables and dressing separately from the cottage cheese.
Make yours: don’t have all those vegetables on hand? No problem! This lettuce-free salad is super versatile. Check out some of our easy replacements above.
How to serve this salad without lettuce
You can serve this salad as a main meal or side dish. My family recently had this with grilled steak and baked potatoes and it was a perfect fresh pairing. For dessert, try a seasonal fruit crisp like cherry crisp or triple berry crisp.
As for how to eat this salad, you can absolutely enjoy it as is with a fork, BUT the dip options are also endlessand some of our favorites include:
- Toasted slices of French bread
- Tortilla chips
This salad is best made and served immediately, but if you are preparing or saving your meal for later, we recommend keeping the fresh ingredients on top of the cottage cheese layer, or better yet, in a separate container.
Avoiding mixing the fresh ingredients into the cottage cheese layer will keep this salad looking great and prevent the dairy from separating from the moisture of the vegetables.
Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 48 hours.
Photo: The photos taken in this post are by Ashley McGlaughlin of The Edible Perspective.