Visit your local farmer's market or grocery store and you'll be amazed at the variety of greens that can serve as a bed for all kinds of salads. Keep the croutons and goopy dressing if you must, but upgrade to one of these nutritious, delicious iceberg alternatives:


You may have seen this green on the menu at Italian restaurants as it originates from the Mediterranean region. A delicate green with fairly undefined edges, arugula tastes peppery rather than bitter. Arugula leaves' softness makes them ideal for mixing in with cooked vegetables as well as serving as a salad base. Try it mixed with caramelized walnuts, diced apples, and cheese shavings.


Also known as curly endive or curly chicory, frisee leaves are tinged with yellow. Frisee is quite different from arugula in that it's crunchy and slightly bitter. Elegant in appearance, it makes a nice backdrop for a variety of salads.


This deep-red Italian green is sold either as a round or oval head of tightly packed leaves. It's quite bitter, so you may want to use the leaves as a garnish rather than create an entire salad from them. Another popular option is to sauté the greens, which turns them brown and transforms their bitterness into sweetness. Cook it up with pasta and sausage for a hearty winter entrée.

Romaine Lettuce

This lettuce, unlike iceberg, is large and leafy. Each leaf has a thick center rib that provides a distinct crunch and also a slightly bitter tang. The Caesar salad is created with romaine lettuce, but you can use it with virtually any kind of dressing and topping. Try it with grilled chicken and thin slices of red onion for a healthy lunch.


Also known as lamb's lettuce, mache features tiny leaves that are very delicate and can bruise easily. They're mild and slightly sweet, but their small size means it may be impractical to create an entire salad from them. Use a larger, sturdier green as a base and garnish with mache.

Red Leaf Lettuce

Heads of red leaf lettuce feature uneven ruffled leaves that provide texture and visual interest. This lettuce is quite mild, making it a good choice for a salad base.