Best Italian Seafood Salad Appetizer (Insalata di Mare)

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Best Italian Seafood Salad Appetizer (Insalata di Mare)- This mixed seafood platter is a classic antipasto (appetizer) you will find in all over Southern Italy.

This recipe serves as a wonderful appetizer to accompany more classic Italian dishes- such as Classic Italian Lasagna Bolognese with Bechamel Sauce. Serve with a side of bread and soup. Don’t forget Classic Italian Tiramisu Recipe for dessert.

seafood- bread- crackers- appetizer
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Best Italian Seafood Salad Recipe

It’s a light, bright salad of gently cooked and marinated seafood, including shrimp, squid, scallops, and mussels, with lemon juice, olive oil, and parsley. Seafood salad is, at its heart, incredibly delicious and simple.

The seafood should be fresh and tender, the dressing bright and flavorful. It should be served chilled. That’s it, really. As I always say, the heart of Italian cooking is the highlighting the simple beauty of the ingredients.

If you desire a taste of Mediterranean style Italy in your home. TRY THIS RECIPE!

You will also love Crispy Calamari Air Fryer Recipe (Easy and Light), King Crab Salad Recipe (Simple and Easy), BEST Seared Scallops with Lemon Butter Sauce, Shrimp Salad with Old Bay, and Spaghetti Frutti di Mare (Seafood Pasta).

Simple Ingredients

  • Bay or sea scallops, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • Lemon zest
  • Lemon juice
  • Large shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • Kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • Garlic, crushed
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • Mussels, de-bearded and scrubbed (ask fish monger to do this for you)
  • Octopus and squid bodies and tentacles
  • Flat-leaf parsley

Tips for cooking seafood

  • Mussels are easy to cook. They cook quickly in an intense cloud of steam, dumping their own flavorful juices into the pot.
  • Shrimp are best poached by starting them in cool water and bringing them up to 170°F, which guarantees plump, tender flesh that’s not tight or mushy from overcooking.
  • Octopus or Squid, for this dish, needs a quick cook, just enough to remove it from its raw state, but not too much that becomes tough. Squid’s quick-cooking sweet spot is similar to shrimp’s.
  • Scallops, in the most general sense, are best raw or barely cooked. Even when seared, the goal is to brown the exterior well while leaving the rest as rare as possible. Always buy dry-packed scallops, which are infinitely sweeter and more flavorful than brined, wet-packed ones.

The fresh and slightly steamed seafood is dressed with a simple olive oil, lemon, salt, and parsley. These flavors are “of the sea”.

Italian insalata di mare (seafood salad)

How to make Italian Seafood Salad Appetizer

The preparation for this dish is takes a little preparation, but it is well worth it! In the end, it comes together quickly and highlights lots of fresh flavors.

After you cook the seafood separately, to achieve the best texture and flavor for each individual selection, you will toss it in a quick marinade. That’s it! It is a restaurant worthy Italian appetizer you can make at home.

Serving Italian Seafood Salad

This Seafood Salad is the appetizer of choice when preparing a menu for an Italian Christmas Eve supper celebration.

 It is common to serve it for the Feast of the Seven Fishes. This feast includes appetizers, soups, entrées, pasta dishes and so much more with the focus on all things fish and seafood.

We also eat it all summer long! When we spend our summers in Italy this is a MUST on our table. Whether we eat it at the local restaurant or make it ourselves it is a favorite dish we simple can’t go without.

I hope you give it a try and experience something new if you haven’t tried it!


We love the simple and beautiful flavors of this recipe as it is. If you want to change things a bit- try these ideas:

  • Add a little lemon juice for freshness
  • Use Bay Seasoning
  • Add a little fresh dill
  • Toss in some red onion
  • Toss with pasta to make a tasty pasta salad
  • Garnish with finely chopped green onions
  • Make it creamy by adding a little mayonnaise or sour cream

More pasta salad ideas: Easy Lemon Ricotta Pasta with AsparagusEasy Italian Tortellini Pasta SaladEasy Italian Style Pasta Salad with Arugulaand Greek Style Pasta Salad.

Don’t forget to make some Easy Soft Italian No Knead Bread! This recipe is amazing with a side of bread.

More Serving Suggestions

We love this salad as an appetizer. It goes well with Shrimp and Broccoli Pasta in Cream SauceOrzo Pasta with Shrimp, Sun-dried Tomatoes, and Artichokes, and a bright lemon dessert Frozen Lemon Dessert (Creamy Lemony Treat).

seafood- bread- crackers- appetizer

Can you make seafood salad ahead of time?

Yes, in fact, it is recommended to make it at least 12 hours before serving to allow the flavors to meld together in the refrigerator. This seafood salad is the ideal make-ahead appetizer for the holidays, summer time BBQ’s or any get-together any time of the year.

More Seafood Recipes:

Seared Scallops in Lemon Butter

Shrimp and Broccoli Pasta

Seafood Spaghetti (frutti di mare)

Mediterranean Salmon Salad

Octopus Salad Recipe

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seafood- bread- crackers- appetizer

Italian Seafood Salad (Insalata di Mare Antipasto)

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This mixed seafood platter is a classic antipasto (appetizer) you will find in all over Southern Italy. It’s a light, bright salad of gently cooked and marinated seafood, including shrimp, squid, scallops, and mussels, with lemon juice, olive oil, and parsley. Seafood salad is, at its heart, incredibly delicious and simple. 

  • Total Time: 35 min
  • Yield: 6 servings 1x


Units Scale
  • 1/2 pound (225g) dry-packed bay or sea scallops, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 teaspoons grated zest and 1 cup (240ml) juice from 8 to 10 lemons, divided
  • 1 pound (450g) large shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon (135ml) extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 2 pounds (1kg) mussels, de-bearded and scrubbed (ask fish monger to do this for you)
  • 1 pound (450g) cleaned squid bodies and tentacles, bodies cut into 1/2-inch rings and large tentacles halved lengthwise
  • 1/4 cup packed minced flat-leaf parsley leaves and tender stems (3/4 ounce; 20g)


  1. In a large saucepan, heat 2  garlic in 1 tablespoon (15ml) oil over medium heat until golden, about 4 minutes. Add 1 cup (240ml) water and bring to a simmer over high heat. Add mussels, cover, and cook until all mussels have opened, about 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer mussels to a large bowl and refrigerate until chilled.
  2. Add 4 cups (960ml) cold water to mussel-steaming liquid. Add shrimp and squid to poaching liquid and set over medium-high heat. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until liquid temperature reaches 170°F on an instant-read thermometer.
  3. Continue cooking until shrimp are cooked through and no longer translucent in the center.  Using a slotted spoon, transfer shrimp and squid to a large bowl, then refrigerate until chilled. Discard poaching liquid.
  4. Pick all mussels from their shells, discarding shells. Cut shrimp in half lengthwise down the middle. In a medium bowl, combine parsley, remaining 1/2 cup (120ml) lemon juice, lemon zest, remaining 1/2 cup (120ml) olive oil. Whisk well.
  5. Drain scallops. In a large bowl, combine scallops, shrimp, squid, shelled mussels, and dressing. Season with salt and toss well. Dressed seafood can be refrigerated for up to 2 days and will improve in flavor during that time.
  • Author: Elena
  • Prep Time: 15 min
  • Cook Time: 20 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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