13 Greens That Will Forever Change the Way You Think About Salads

Do you want to make your salads spicy, sweet, peppery, savory, or sour — without adding an ounce of dressing?

You can dramatically enhance the flavor profile of a salad simply by using the following greens along with (or in place of) lettuce. And with Tower Garden, you can easily grow them yourself!

Note: To make this list easier to navigate, plants are ordered alphabetically.

1. Arugula

Baby arugula is commonly included in grocery store salad mixes. It’s famous for a delightfully nutty, peppery punch.

2. Asian greens

Common in stir-fry dishes, Asian greens such as bok choy, tatsoi, and mizuna are slightly spicy. For salads, younger leaves are typically best, as they’re milder in flavor.

3. Dandelion

Once you taste the earthy, slightly bitter leaves of dandelion, you’ll wonder who decided the plant was a weed. (Pro tip: dandelion flowers are an easy way to dress up a salad.)

4. Herbs

OK, they’re technically not greens. But herbs make fantastic salad toppers. From the floral notes of lavender to the refreshing nip of mint, these robust plants heighten the degree of dynamism in any dish, salads included.

5. Frisée

Also known as chicory and curly endive, frisée is a piquant, highly textured green that accents and complements other foods well.

6. Kale

Kale needs little — if any — introduction. But because it’s rich in fiber and loaded with vitamins, this faintly bitter green deserves a place in your salads.

7. Mâche

Sometimes called “the mayonnaise of greens,” mâche (or lamb’s lettuce) is a treat. Use this delicate crop to add a sweet, buttery taste to your salads.

8. Mustard

You may know mustard best for its seeds, which are used to make the yellow condiment often squeezed onto hamburgers and hot dogs. The plant’s leaves can introduce a similar pungency to your salads.

9. Nasturtium

Nasturtium can diversify your salads in both color and flavor. How’s it taste? Well, “nasturtium” comes from “nasus” and “tortus,” Latin words that roughly translate to “twisted nose” — so that may give you an idea.

10. Sorrel

As the most unique-tasting green I’ve ever eaten, sorrel is comparable in flavor to a sour green apple. The crop’s high levels of oxalic acid cause this tanginess.

11. Spinach

Perhaps the most celebrated salad green next to lettuce, spinach can be a little challenging to grow. But a simple, pleasant taste and dense concentration of nutrients makes the effort well worth it.

12. Swiss chard

Compared to the other plants on this list, Swiss chard is mild. Try using young leaves to balance out the flavors of bolder salad greens, such as sorrel or mustard.

13. Watercress

Watercress will bring bitterness to your salads — so you’ll likely want to use it sparingly. But since it’s one the most healthful superfoods you can grow, even small portions will significantly increase the nutritional value of your salads.

Ready to grow a sensational salad?

I hope this list inspires you to grow something a little unconventional.

If you need ideas for how to use the interesting greens above, check out these 10 simple salad recipes »

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