Classic Italian Chopped Salad Recipe

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Classic Italian Chopped Salad Recipe– is a delicious and colorful Italian-American dish that combines a variety of fresh vegetables, Italian deli meats, cheeses, and a tangy vinaigrette dressing. It’s easy to make and one the best salads for any occasion.

Serve with homemade focaccia or Italian bread.

Italian chopped salad with all of the ingredients on top of the lettuce in sections to show all the colors and flavors.
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Best Italian Chopped Salad

I love a good chopped salad! This kind of salad is a great way to use up loads of fresh produce and Italian meats and cheeses. The satisfying crunch of fresh veggies, the creamy goodness of cheese, and the savory zing of deli meats. It’s like a taste explosion you can’t resist!

You will also love Italian Rice Salad and Antipasto Pasta Salad.

Italian chopped salad tossed with dressing and gold salad servers.

Simple Ingredients

Using the best ingredients, from ripe, juicy tomatoes to vibrant bell peppers and fragrant herbs, takes this salad to the next level of yumminess. You can also make it your own, customizing it with your favorite ingredients.

ingredient shot.

For the Salad:

  • Romaine lettuce
  • Radicchio
  • Iceberg lettuce
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Red onion
  • Cucumber
  • Bell pepper
  • Pepperoncini
  • Black olives (Kalamata or Gaeta)
  • Green olives (Castelvetrano or Cerignola)
  • Provolone cheese
  • Mozzarella cheese
  • Salami or pepperoni
  • Fresh basil leaves
  • Fresh parsley
ingredients for the salad dressing.

Homemade Italian Vinaigrette:

  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Red wine vinegar
  • Garlic
  • Dijon mustard
  • Dried oregano
  • Salt
  • Black pepper

See the recipe card for quantities.

How to Make Italian Chopped Salad

This loaded chopped salad comes together in little time! It’s one of those filling main dish salads.

how to make Italian chopped salad step-by-step: adding the salad as the base in the bowl.

Combine the chopped Romaine, radicchio, and iceberg lettuce in a large salad bowl.

Italian chopped salad with all of the ingredients on top of the lettuce in sections to show all the colors and flavors.

Add the cherry tomatoes, red onion, cucumber, bell peppers, garbanzo beans, black olives, green olives, pepperoncini, provolone or mozzarella cheese, parmigiano cheese, salami or pepperoni, and basil.

how to make Italian chopped salad step-by-step: salad dressing mixed with a whisk to combine.

In a small bowl or jar with a lid, whisk together the olive oil, red wine vinegar, minced garlic, Dijon mustard, dried oregano, salt, and black pepper. Set the vinaigrette aside to let the flavors meld.

Drizzle the vinaigrette over the salad. Start with about half of it and toss everything together. Add more vinaigrette as needed to achieve your desired level of dressing.

Toss the salad until all the ingredients are well coated with the vinaigrette, and the flavors are nicely distributed.

Taste the salad and adjust the seasoning with additional salt and pepper, if necessary.

Serve your Italian Chopped Salad immediately as a main course or side dish. It’s delicious on its own or with a fresh Italian bread plate.

Substitutions

If you’re making Italian Chopped Salad and don’t have all the listed ingredients, you can make substitutions to suit your preferences or use what you have. Here are some common substitutions:

  • Lettuce Variations: You can use different types of lettuce or greens, such as arugula, spinach, or mixed greens, instead of the Romaine, radicchio, and iceberg lettuce.
  • Tomato Alternatives: If you don’t have cherry tomatoes, you can use regular tomatoes, grape tomatoes, or even sun-dried tomatoes for a different flavor.
  • Onion Substitutes: Red onions can be replaced with sweet onions, shallots, or green onions (scallions).
  • Pepper Choices: You can use any color bell pepper you have on hand, whether red, green, yellow, or orange.
  • Cheese Options: Experiment with cheeses like feta, goat cheese, gorgonzola cheese, parmesan cheese, or cheddar cheese if you don’t have provolone or mozzarella.
  • Meat Variations: Instead of salami or pepperoni, you can use other deli meats like ham, turkey, or roast beef. Or skip the meat altogether for a vegetarian version.
  • Olive Substitutions: If you don’t have black or green olives, you can use one type of olive or other varieties, such as Sicilian or Spanish olives.
  • Fresh Herb Choices: Feel free to substitute basil and parsley with other fresh herbs like cilantro, dill, or chives.
  • Vinaigrette Options: You can use your favorite vinaigrette or Italian dressing from the store if you don’t have the ingredients for the homemade vinaigrette.
bowl of Italian chopped salad with dressing on the side.

Variations

Italian Chopped Salad is a versatile dish that can be customized to suit your taste. Here are some recipe variations and ingredient substitutions you can try:

  • Vegetarian Option: To make a vegetarian version, omit the deli meats like salami or pepperoni and use marinated or grilled tofu, chickpeas, or additional cheese for protein.
  • Mediterranean Twist: Add ingredients like artichoke hearts, roasted red peppers, and capers to give the salad a Mediterranean flavor. You can also use feta cheese and oregano in the dressing.
  • Seafood Variation: Incorporate seafood for a different twist. Add grilled shrimp, chopped cooked crab or lobster, or even canned tuna.
  • Green Variations: Experiment with different greens like arugula, spinach, butter lettuce, or mixed spring greens to change the base of the salad.
  • Dressing Options: Try different dressings like a balsamic vinaigrette, Italian style creamy dressing, or a lemon-herb dressing for a unique flavor profile.
  • Nuts and Seeds: Add some crunch and nutrition with toasted pine nuts, chopped walnuts, or sunflower seeds.
  • Roasted Vegetables: Roast some vegetables like zucchini, eggplant, or cherry tomatoes for a deeper, roasted flavor.
  • Croutons: Top the salad with homemade or store-bought croutons for an extra crunch.
  • Grilled Chicken: If you’d like to add more protein, grilled chicken breast or thigh slices work well.

Feel free to mix and match these variations to create a chopped salad that suits your preferences and dietary restrictions. Chopped salads are very adaptable and can be tailored to your taste or the ingredients you have on hand.

close up of bowl with salad ready to eat with extra cheese on the side.

How to Store Leftovers

For the best results, consume the leftovers within a day or two and re-dress the salad just before serving to maintain freshness. Store the simple vinaigrette in a separate container.

Top Tips

  • Fresh Ingredients: Use the freshest ingredients available, as the quality of your vegetables, cheese, and meats greatly influences the taste of the salad.
  • Chop Uniformly: Ensure all the salad components are chopped into uniform bite-sizes for a balanced texture and flavor in each bite.
  • Keep It Cold: Store the salad components in the refrigerator before assembling, and serve it chilled for the best taste and texture.
  • Dressing on the Side: If you’re making the salad ahead or serving it to a large group, offer the dressing on the side so guests can dress their salad to their liking and prevent it from becoming too soggy.
  • Customize to Taste: Don’t hesitate to customize the salad with your favorite ingredients or make substitutions based on dietary preferences or what’s in your kitchen.

FAQs

What is Italian chopped salad?

Italian Chopped Salad is a popular Italian-inspired salad that typically includes a combination of fresh vegetables, cheeses, deli meats, and a vinaigrette dressing.

Can I make an Italian Chopped Salad in advance?

Yes, you can prepare the salad components in advance and store them separately, but it’s best to dress the salad just before serving to prevent wilting.

Can I make a vegetarian version of Italian Chopped Salad?

Absolutely, you can omit the deli meats and use ingredients like marinated tofu, chickpeas, or additional cheese for protein in a vegetarian version.

Where did Italian chopped salad come from?

Chopped salad is thought to have originated in New York City’s early 20th-century delicatessens and restaurants, where it became popular due to its easy preparation and fresh, flavorful ingredients. It’s a salad style that emphasizes finely chopped or diced ingredients for a balanced and satisfying meal.

Make Ahead Mason Jar Salad

Turn this into a mason jar salad for easy meal prep by splitting it into 4 separate jars and layering the ingredients. Store dressing separately.

Best Italian Chopped Salad in a white serving bowl with a small jar of tomatoes on the side.

Looking for other recipes? Try these:

What to Serve with Italian Chopped Salad

These are my favorite dishes to serve with Italian Chopped Salad:

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Best Italian Chopped Salad Recipe

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5 from 1 review

Classic Italian Chopped Salad Recipe– is a delicious and colorful Italian-American dish that combines a variety of fresh vegetables, Italian deli meats, cheeses, and a tangy vinaigrette dressing. It’s easy to make and one the best salads for any occasion.

  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 46 servings 1x

Ingredients

Units Scale

Salad:

  • 4 cups chopped Romaine lettuce
  • 1 cup chopped radicchio
  • 1 cup chopped iceberg lettuce
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/4 cup chopped red onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped Persian cucumber or English cucumber
  • 1/2 cup chopped orange or red bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 cup chopped black olives (Kalamata or Gaeta)
  • 1/4 cup chopped green olives (Castelvetrano or Cerignola)
  • 1/4 cup pepperoncini, diced
  • 1/2 cup cubed provolone cheese or mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup shaved parmigiano cheese
  • 1/2 cup cubed Italian salami (dry) or pepperoni
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves

Vinaigrette:

  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • Salt and black pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Start by making the vinaigrette. In a small bowl or jar with a lid, whisk together the olive oil, red wine vinegar, minced garlic, Dijon mustard, dried oregano, salt, and black pepper. Set the vinaigrette aside to let the flavors meld.
  2. In a large salad bowl, combine the chopped Romaine, radicchio, iceberg lettuce, cherry tomatoes, red onion, cucumber, bell peppers, garbanzo beans, black olives, green olives, pepperoncini, provolone or mozzarella cheese, parmigiano cheese, salami or pepperoni, and basil.
  3. Drizzle the vinaigrette over the salad. Start with about half of it and toss everything together. Add more vinaigrette as needed to achieve your desired level of dressing.
  4. Toss the salad until all the ingredients are well coated with the vinaigrette, and the flavors are nicely distributed.
  5. Taste the salad and adjust the seasoning with additional salt and pepper, if necessary.
  6. Serve your Italian Chopped Salad immediately as a main course or side dish. It’s delicious on its own or with a fresh Italian bread plate.

Feel free to customize this recipe by adding or omitting ingredients to suit your taste. You can also adjust the quantity of the vinaigrette to your preference. Enjoy your classic Italian Chopped Salad!

  • Author: Elena
  • Prep Time: 15 min
  • Category: Savory
  • Method: Italian
  • Cuisine: Italian

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About Elena

My dream is to share delicious wholesome recipes that you will share around the table with all your loved ones. The memories surrounded by food are the heart and soul of CucinaByElena.

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2 Comments

  1. Delicious! I especially love the spiciness of the radicchio combined with the salami and homemade dressing. I will be saving this recipe and making again in the future. Would be perfect to bring to a friends house, or a party. Colorful, beautiful and healthy. Thank you Elena!