For many, the word salad conjures images of bowls of crisp green freshness tossed with any combination of more flavorful freshness. And while green salads will always be a mainstay in the salad category, gone are the days when a salad was considered diet food.

If you break it down, a salad is any delicious combination of meats, fruits, vegetables, and pastas that make for good eating! Here’s where you can find some of the best specialty entree salads in the city.

If you have a hankering for a seafood salad…

Allegro Seafood Grill
58 Kossuth Street
(973) 344-4500

Stop by Allegro Seafood Grill for their Salada de Polvo (Octopus salad) or some Salada de Buzios do Mediterraneo (Conch salad in Vinaigrette Dressing). Expand your appreciation of octopus outside of calamari. And when’s the last time you had some conch without having to board a plane?

If you’ve got a taste for a hearty pasta salad…

Andros Diner
6 Wilson Avenue
(973) 344-2626

Andros Diner will hook you right up with their Mediterranean Spinach Pasta Salad. It’s made with penne, baby spinach, tomatoes, onions, olives, cucumbers, roasted red peppers and fresh mozzarella. Balsamic vinaigrette dressing served on the side.

If you want to keep things light with a fruit salad…

Sweet & Green Café
61 Halsey Street
(973) 732-5869

Try one of the fruit bowls at Sweet & Green Café. In addition to granola, sliced coconut and banana, the Lychee Valentine Kale Bowl contains lychee, edible rose petals, strawberry and honey. The Island Beach Coconut Bowl has vanilla protein, mango, pineapple and honey. And the Coco Acai Bowl contains chocolate protein, mango, pineapple and Nutella.

If you like some protein (aka meat) in your salad…

Tops Diner
500 Passaic Avenue, Harrison, NJ
(973) 481.0490

How about the Jamaican Jerk Chicken Salad with black beans, corn, tomatoes, feta cheese, cucumbers and quinoa in a house vinaigrette dressing at Tops Diner? There’s also the Steak House Salad with romaine hearts, tomato, crumbled bleu cheese and tobacco onions, served with Ranch dressing

NICO’s Ancient Grain Salad

When creating a summer salad for modern tastes and appeal, Andrew Watterson, executive chef at NICO Kitchen + Bar at NJPAC, looks to “ancient” grains for inspiration.

Watterson, who has a background in French cooking, uses red quinoa as the centerpiece of his Ancient Grain Salad. He tosses the quinoa with shaved Brussels sprouts, baby kale, feta cheese, pine nuts and cherry tomatoes, and bathes everything lightly in an herb vinaigrette.

How to prepare quinoa for the Ancient Grain Salad:

1 carrot, peeled
1/2 onion, peeled
1 celery stalk
1 bay leaf
1 cup red quinoa
1 1/2 cups vegetable stock, seasoned lightly with salt and pepper

Rinse quinoa well with cold water in a mesh colander. Add all ingredients to a sauce pot and simmer until quinoa is tender. Cool on a sheet tray, remove vegetables.

Chef Watterson’s Herb Vinaigrette:

1/2 cup champagne vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup chopped fresh herbs
(parsley, chervil, tarragon, chives)
1 minced shallot
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard

Add all ingredients except oil to a blender and pulse fine. With blender running on low, slowly drizzle in oil until emulsified. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Harry Potter at NJPAC