This super simple and satisfying Vegetable Salad showcases a colorful medley of chopped raw veggies tossed with fresh garlic, herbs, oil, and vinegar.
It’s an excellent make-ahead side for cookouts, dinner parties, potlucks, meal prep, and more.
Who said a side salad must have lettuce?
This fresh vegetable salad recipe results in a delicious and nutritious side salad without any lettuce or leafy greens. Instead, each bite delivers crisp cucumber, sweet red bell pepper, crunchy radish, zesty onion, and bursts of juicy tomato.
As for the seasonings and dressing, I kept it as simple as possible.
I tossed the veggies with fresh garlic, parsley, dill, balsamic vinegar, and olive oil, which added just enough dimension to enhance the flavor of the fresh vegetables.
This easy salad is perfect when the vegetables are in season. Not to mention, there’s no dairy or mayo, so it’s suited for spring and summer outdoor gatherings.
You can also easily swap the basic vegetable salad ingredients with your favorite vegetables, veggies currently in season, or items you have on hand.
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
Here are four reasons why this salad recipe is a keeper:
- The ease. All you have to do is wash, chop, and mix the herbs and veggies with oil and vinegar, and you’re done.
- The flexibility. You can stick with the main ingredients or customize the recipe from top to bottom with your personal preferences.
- The options. You can serve this chopped vegetable salad as a light first course, a tasty side dish with grilled meats and fish, or a refreshing filling in wraps and rice bowls.
- The fiber. Despite the lack of lettuce & leafy greens, this salad is filling thanks to the abundance of fiber and nutrient-rich vegetables.
Ingredients for A Crunchy Vegetable Salad
Here are the ingredients you will need for my favorite healthy vegetable salad recipe.
You can follow the recipe as is; you can adapt it to your taste preferences or just use up the ingredients you have on hand.
- Cucumbers – English, Persian, and small-field cucumbers are the best in raw salads as they’re nearly seedless, and the thin, mild-flavored skin doesn’t need to be peeled. You can use a large garden cucumber, but you may want to remove the skin and scoop out the watery seeds before chopping.
- Tomatoes – I used halved cherry tomatoes, but grape tomatoes or any sweet-acidic tomato with low water content, like plum or roma, work.
- Red bell pepper – These are the sweetest, best-tasting bell pepper. So I don’t recommend substituting them for a different color, but you can always add orange and yellow bell peppers if you like.
- Radishes – They add a pleasantly peppery-sweet bite, distinct crunch, and a pop of pink, red, or purple.
- Celery – Crunchy celery is a perfect addition to this fresh salad. It’s slightly sweet and adds a bright green color to the dish.
- Onion – Thinly sliced red or sweet white onions are best. However, chopped chives are a great way to add complexity without pungency if you don’t like raw onion.
- Garlic cloves – Raw garlic is often overlooked as a salad ingredient. However, a couple of minced cloves add fantastic flavor without overpowering the other ingredients.
- Fresh herbs – A handful of fresh parsley and dill brightens up every bite with even more fresh flavor.
- Salad dressing – I like tossing the veggies and herbs with a straightforward mixture of balsamic vinegar and extra-virgin olive oil. This basic recipe lets the raw ingredients shine.
How to Make a Vegetable Salad
Here are the step-by-step instructions on how to make a crunchy vegetable salad without lettuce:
- Chop the vegetables and herbs: This fresh vegetable salad is a great way to sharpen your knife skills, so grab a cutting board and your best chef’s knife and chop all the veggies and herbs into small pieces, placing them in a large salad bowl as you finish each.
- Make the dressing: In a separate small bowl, whisk the balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Likewise, you can add the dressing ingredients to a mason jar with a tight lid and shake until combined.
- Toss the salad: Pour the dressing over the chopped veggies and herbs, season with a generous pinch of salt, and toss to combine.
- Chill, then serve: Place the bowl in the fridge for at least 30 minutes to give the flavors more time to mingle. Serve chilled or at room temperature.
Vegetable salads are very easy to make. All you have to do is clean and chop the vegetables, mix them with the dressing, and you are done.
But there are still a few tips and tricks that will help you take your salad from good to great:
- Use fresh-crisp produce. Maybe it goes without saying, but you should only use the freshest of the fresh ingredients in raw salads. Sad-looking soft vegetables or vegetables that started to dry out in the refrigerator should go into soups and stews and never into a raw salad.
- Chop the veggies small. Consistent bite-sized pieces are easier to chew and result in a chopped salad with a better mouthfeel. For example, instead of biting into a big chunk of celery or onion, you get a little bit of each ingredient in every bite.
- Let the salad marinate. This salad tastes even better once the vegetables have had some time (at least 30 minutes but no longer than 3 hours) to absorb the aromatic, savory flavors of the herbs, garlic, olive oil, and vinegar.
- Add a variety of fresh herbs. Fresh herbs add flavor and nutrition to any meal. Use fresh parsley, dill, cilantro, basil, chives, rosemary, or oregano to find your favorite.
Raw chopped vegetable salads vary from one recipe to the next. Get creative with the different components and make this veggie salad your own.
Customize the vegetable mix
Add more fresh vegetables:
- hearts of palm
- green peas
Add a variety of fresh herbs
Fresh herbs are an excellent way to brighten up the final flavor and boost the nutrient content of raw salads.
You can try the following:
Customize the basic dressing
If you want to make your homemade dressing a bit more fun, here are a few ingredients that will help you kick it up a notch:
- flaxseed oil
- sesame oil
- lemon juice
- lime juice
- white wine vinegar
- red wine vinegar
- apple cider vinegar
- dried herbs
Mix-ins for flavor and nutrition
Make it even more fiber-packed and filling by adding one or two of the following ingredients:
- black beans
- sunflower seeds
- pumpkin seeds
- feta cheese
- freshly shredded parmesan cheese
- fresh mozzarella cheese
Storing & Making Ahead
Storing: Transfer vegetable salad leftovers to a large glass container with a good lid and keep refrigerated for 1-2 days. Do not freeze.
Make ahead: Toss the salad in dressing 30 minutes to 3 hours before serving it, but DO NOT add the salt. Instead, just set it in the fridge and season it with salt before serving.
Meal prep: For meal prep purposes, toss the chopped vegetables and herbs together, but hold off on the salt and dressing. Then, for the next few days, you can season individual servings of the salad with olive oil, vinegar, and a pinch of salt.
Frequently Asked Questions
How are vegetable salads typically served?
This versatile salad is easy to incorporate into practically any meal. Here are a few healthy serving suggestions:
- As a side dish with simple meat and seafood entrees like Yogurt Marinated Chicken Kebabs, Roasted Salmon, or Meatballs without Breadcrumbs.
- As a filling for healthy grain and rice bowls.
- As a topping with lightly toasted crusty bad or on avocado toast.
Why is my vegetable salad watery?
Raw vegetables are naturally high in water, so tossing them with salt or acid extracts the natural moisture, ultimately causing a sad, soggy salad.
To prevent this, allow the veggies to marinate no longer than 2-3 hours and season with salt immediately before serving.
More Fresh Vegetable Salad Recipes
If you like vegetable salads made with raw veggies, check out these healthy recipes:
- Raw Beet Salad
- Raw Turnip Salad
- German Cucumber Salad
- Mediterranean Tomato Salad
- Healthy Cabbage Salad
- Romaine Lettuce Salad
- 3-4 small field cucumbers or 1/3 English cucumber, chopped
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes. sliced in half
- 1 red bell pepper, cored and diced
- 9 radishes, chopped
- 2-3 celery stalks, diced
- 1/3 medium onion, thinly sliced
- 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 generous handful fresh parsley, chopped
- 1 generous handful fresh dill
- 2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 3 Tbsp olive oil
- salt to taste
- Chop all the vegetables and herbs and place them into a salad bowl.
- In a small bowl, mix the balsamic vinegar with olive oil and pour over the vegetables.
- Season with salt and toss to combine. Place in the fridge for 30 minutes to allow the flavors to blend.
If making ahead, don't add salt to the salad. Just store it in the fridge and season with salt before serving.
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Nutrition InformationYield 4 Serving Size 1/4 of recipe
Amount Per Serving Calories 162Total Fat 11gSaturated Fat 2gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 9gCholesterol 0mgSodium 200mgCarbohydrates 16gFiber 3gSugar 8gProtein 3g
Nutrition facts provided on this website are an estimate and not guaranteed to be accurate. Please see a qualified health care provider for personalized diet advice and make sure that each of the ingredients is allowed in your diet.