Salads come in many shapes and sizes. Some are almost an afterthought of lettuce and fridge-drawer vegetables, but the Italian chopped salad is much more iconic. A thick bed of dressed Romaine lettuce topped with ALL the good toppings. A good chopped salad will have a mix of tangy pickled vegetables, cured meats, cheeses, and crunchy fresh vegetables.
While this salad was made to be served alongside hearty fare like pizza, chicken parmesan, or pasta dishes, it is plenty hearty enough to be the star of dinner on its own. It also makes wonderful lunches!
Homemade Italian Vinaigrette
I make my vinaigrette by combining fresh lemon juice, mustard, vinegar, olive oil, sugar, dried oregano, salt, and pepper in a glass jar with a lid. Shake it up for a few seconds to combine the ingredients and its ready to go!
You can definitely store this in the fridge for up to 1 week, but it’ll separate and solidify in the fridge so run the jar under some warm water and give it a shake to bring the dressing back to room temperature before serving.
You don’t have to make your own vinaigrette for this salad though. There is enough going on here that you could get away with a good quality store-bought vinaigrette like Newman's Own. You don’t want a vinaigrette that’s overly sweet and it should have lots of herbs and acidity.
Pickled Vegetables Are the Star
The thing I love most about a good Italian chopped salad is a mix of pickled vegetables. I used pepperoncini and roasted red peppers for this version, but you could experiment with other options. Chopped up pickled vegetables like cabbage, okra, or even spicy pickles would all be fine additions to the salad.
The saltiness and tanginess of the pickled vegetables is important here because it cuts through some of the richness in this salad that comes from the cheese and meat. Don’t skip it!
- Trade out the meat with other cured meats like pepperoni or capicola. Or leave out the meat entirely for a vegetarian version.
- Add even more pickled items like olives or capers to the salad if you’d like
- Change up the base of the salad with slivered kale or baby spinach.
Make it a Meal!
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Classic Chopped Italian Salad
For the Italian vinaigrette
1 lemon, juiced
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
For the salad
2 heads romaine lettuce, chopped
1/2 red onion, chopped
1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
4 ounces genoa salami, chopped
8 ounces fresh mozzarella, chopped
1/2 cup sliced pepperoncini
1/4 cup sliced roasted red peppers
10 fresh basil leaves, chopped
Making the dressing:
In a jar with a lid add the lemon juice, mustard, vinegar, sugar, oregano, olive oil, kosher, salt, and black pepper. Add the lid and shake for 10 seconds until all of the ingredients are thoroughly combined. Taste and adjust seasonings to your liking.
The vinaigrette can be made in advance and stored in the fridge for up to 1 week. It’s best served at room temperature.
The dressing will separate and solidify in the fridge, so run the jar under some warm water and give it a shake to bring the dressing back to room temperature before serving.
Make the salad:
Add the chopped Romaine to a large bowl and drizzle with a few tablespoons of dressing. Top the romaine with the red onion, chickpeas, cherry tomatoes, mozzarella, pepperoncini, roasted red peppers and basil. Stir together well before serving. Add more dressing, if desired.
Serve the salad in bowls with pasta or pizza for a classic Italian meal.
Leftovers and storage:
If you are planning to store this salad for later, I would recommend storing it without the dressing.
If you do dress it and have some leftovers, that’s okay—the dressed salad will keep for 1-2 days in the fridge. The greens just wilt pretty quickly once they are dressed.
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|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 34g||44%|
|Saturated Fat 9g||46%|
|Total Carbohydrate 25g||9%|
|Dietary Fiber 9g||31%|
|Total Sugars 9g|
|Vitamin C 44mg||219%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|