If you’re looking for a light and refreshing salad that skips the lettuce but not the flavor, this No Lettuce Salad is your answer. Packed with garbanzo beans, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, and a zesty dressing on a bed of cottage cheese, it’s a satisfying and wholesome salad that’s perfect for any meal.
Whether you’re enjoying this salad as a light lunch or 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.
It’s such a Fit Foodie Studio staple when there’s “nothing to eat for lunch.” We truly think you’ll love this lettuce-free, flavor-packed salad as much as we do!
No Lettuce Salad Ingredients
- Garbanzo beans: These give our salad a nice, hearty base and bring in some protein power.
- Cherry tomatoes: These little gems bring in freshness and a hint of sweetness, plus they make the salad look vibrant.
- Red onion: Adds a sharp and savory kick that takes the flavor up a notch.
- Mini cucumbers: They give the salad that satisfying crunch we all love and add a refreshing vibe.
- Balsamic vinegar: This stuff adds a bit of sweet and tangy goodness to our dressing, making it oh-so-tasty.
- Olive oil: It pairs perfectly with the balsamic vinegar for a simple yet flavorful dressing.
- Fresh lemon juice: This zesty addition brings a burst of citrusy freshness that brightens up the whole dish.
- Sea salt: Just a pinch of this magical seasoning enhances the flavors and makes everything taste even better.
- Freshly ground pepper: A little kick of spiciness that plays nicely with all the other flavors.
- Everything bagel seasoning: This is the secret ingredient that makes our salad unique and savory.
- Cottage cheese: It’s the creamy, protein-packed base that makes this salad satisfying and delicious.
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Easy Ingredient Swaps
This salad is super versatile! We’re always using the veggies we have on hand, so this recipe truly is just one variation of 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’d like!
- Veggies: any variety of tomatoes or onion would be an easy swap for the cherry tomatoes and red onion this recipe calls for. Similarly, 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 also work.
- Nuts & seasonings: we love the savory flavor of everything bagel seasoning, but pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds or a chopped nut like almonds or pecans would also complement this recipe well.
Top Tips for No Lettuce Salad
Serve immediately or store separately: plate this salad with the cottage cheese if you’re planning to serve it immediately, but if you’re hoping to meal prep it for later, we recommend storing the veggies and dressing separately from the cottage cheese.
Make it your own: don’t have all these veggies on hand? No problem! This no lettuce salad is super versatile. Check out some of our easy substitutions above.
How to Serve This No Lettuce Salad
You can serve this salad as a main meal or a side. My family recently had this with grilled steak and baked potatoes and it was a perfect fresh pairing. For dessert, try an in-season fruit crisp such as cherry crisp or triple berry crisp.
As for how to eat this salad itself, you can absolutely enjoy it as is with a fork, BUT the dipping options are also endless, and some of our favorites include:
- Toasted slices of French bread
- Tortilla chips
This salad is best made and served immediately, but if you’re meal prepping or saving for later, we recommend keeping the fresh ingredients on top of the cottage cheese layer, or even better, in a separate container.
By avoiding mixing the fresh ingredients into the cottage cheese layer, you will keep the gorgeous look of this salad and avoid the dairy separating from the moisture of the veggies.
Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 48 hours.
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The Best No Lettuce Salad
- 15 oz. garbanzo beans drained and rinsed
- 10 oz. cherry tomatoes halved
- ½ small red onion minced
- 5-6 mini cucumbers sliced into half moons (1 large cucumber will work, too)
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- ½ teaspoon everything bagel seasoning + more to taste
- 2 cups 2% cottage cheese for serving
- Add the garbanzo beans, tomatoes, onion, and cucumbers to a bowl and toss to combine. Drizzle the ingredients with the balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and lemon juice. Toss again.
- Season with salt, pepper, and everything bagel seasoning and toss.
- Serve the salad over ⅓ cup of cottage cheese. Season with more everything bagel seasoning, to taste.
Tips & Notes
- Chopped larger tomatoes will also work for this recipe.
- We prefer mini cucumbers, but English or regular cucumbers will work, too.
- The balsamic vinegar offers a bit of sweetness to the salad. If you use a different type of vinegar, you may need to whisk it with a few teaspoons of honey or sugar before adding it to the salad.
Photography: photos taken in this post are by Ashley McGlaughlin from The Edible Perspective.