My Italian chopped salad is a salad lover's favorite, absolutely filled with lots of cool, colorful and vibrant ingredients and zesty flavors. Prepared with chopped romaine greens, salami, mozzarella, bell peppers, onions, Kalamata olives, and tomatoes all tossed together with a homemade herbed red wine vinaigrette, this chopped salad is the perfect light-yet-hearty meal!
A Favorite Chopped Salad Brimming with Zesty Ingredients
When I first moved to Los Angeles many, many years ago, my parents would come out from Michigan to visit me from time to time and we would make a fun day of going to the Santa Monica pier and to the beach.
Afterwards, we'd make a stop for a bite at a favorite Italian eatery on Third Street Promenade for a family meal out, always making it a point to get the hearty Italian chopped salad they offered on their menu to share as an appetizer.
My dad and I have always been huge fans of chopped salads brimming with finely diced veggies and other savory morsels dressed with a zippy vinaigrette, and this particular version definitely delivered...
It was a huge salad filled with lots of finely cubed mozzarella cheese, savory dry salami, and veggies with crisp-crunchy textures, and my, oh, my did we enjoy grazing on it, and catching up as a family.
It is these precious memories of sitting around the table with loved ones that informs so much of my recipe development, and this Italian chopped salad is a perfect example of a special-yet-simple dish which is easy to replicate at home using a little imagination to enjoy any time the craving comes.
My mouthwatering Italian chopped salad recipe features chopped romaine greens (in place of classic iceberg lettuce), finely cubed mozzarella cheese, Italian dry salami, green bell peppers, Roma tomatoes, onions, Kalamata olives, plus fragrant basil and parsley.
And with the herbed red wine vinaigrette, which provides a flavorful pop and ties everything together, this Italian chopped salad is the perfect hearty salad to share as a starter with loved ones, or to make a light and healthy complete meal out of!
My Italian Chopped Salad Recipe with Red Wine Vinaigrette
What I love about preparing a big, fresh, Italian chopped salad to munch on is how quick and easy it is with a handful of fresh veggies, plus a few pantry staples for the red wine vinaigrette.
Because I love the deep green color and crunchy texture of romaine hearts, I like to use those and chop them up very finely to use as the “bed” of the salad that the rest of the savory morsels will get added to. But if you prefer iceberg lettuce, feel free to use that!
Here's a quick look at my Italian chopped salad recipe: (or just jump to the full recipe...)
- To get started, I finely chop about 4 romaine hearts until bite-size, and toss these into a large bowl.
- Then, I simply finely dice up the green bell pepper, some red onion, some whole-milk mozzarella cheese, a bit of dry salami and little handful of fresh basil and parsley, and toss those in with the romaine. These veggies are placed into the fridge to keep cool until I'm ready to dress and serve the salad.
- To prepare the herbed red wine vinaigrette, I add all of the ingredients to a large bowl and whisk together, just until emulsified.
- Because I really love a little garlic toast with my chopped salad, I then toast up some good quality rustic bread, drizzle with olive oil, rub it with a fresh garlic clove, and serve on the side to scoop up the chopped salad with.
- To assemble, I toss the Italian chopped salad with the dressing, and either spoon into one large bowl or platter if sharing, or spoon into individual bowls and serve with a wedge of garlic toast on the side.
Italian Chopped Salad
by Ingrid Beer
This Italian chopped salad is brimming with mozzarella, salami, peppers, tomatoes and olives, plus a zesty red wine vinaigrette!
Yield: Serves 4
Nutrition Info: 603 calories per serving (with 1 garlic toast wedge)
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 0 minutes
Total time: 20 minutes
Italian Chopped Salad Ingredients:
- 4 romaine hearts, halved and chopped into small dice
- 2 Roma tomatoes, seeded and chopped into small dice
- 1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped into small dice
- ½ red onion, chopped into small dice
- ⅓ cup Kalamata olives, pitted and chopped into small dice
- 8 ounces whole-milk mozzarella cheese, cut into small dice
- 4 ounces (about ¼ pound) Italian dry salami, chopped into small dice
- 1 tablespoon fresh basil, chopped fine
- 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped fine
- 2 slices French bread or other rustic bread (for optional garlic toasts)
- 2 teaspoons olive oil (for optional garlic toasts)
- 1 garlic clove, papery skin removed and halved (for optional garlic toasts)
- Pinch salt/pepper
Herbed Red Wine Vinaigrette Ingredients:
- ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 2 garlic cloves, pressed through garlic press
- ¼ teaspoon Dijon mustard
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon Italian seasoning
- Pinch ground black pepper
- ¾ teaspoon sugar
- ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Begin by gathering and prepping all of the chopped salad ingredients according to the ingredients list above to have ready and organized for use.
- To a large bowl, add the romaine hearts plus the remainder of the ingredients up to and including the parsley, and set this aside in fridge while you prepare the vinaigrette and the optional garlic toasts.
- Gather and prep all of the red wine vinaigrette ingredients according to the ingredients list above to have ready and organized for use.
- To make the vinaigrette, add all of the ingredients up to and including the sugar to a medium bowl, and whisk to combine; next, begin slowly adding the oil, whisking until vinaigrette is emulsified. Set aside.
- If preparing the garlic toast wedges, toast the slices of bread until golden brown; once toasted, drizzle 1 teaspoon of olive oil onto each slice, and rub the garlic clove half liberally over both slices. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt/pepper, and cut the toast on the bias to make four wedges total. Set aside as the salad garnish.
- To assemble the Italian chopped salad, pour the vinaigrette over the chopped salad and thoroughly toss to coat. Check and adjust the salt/pepper, if necessary, and divide the salad equally among 4 plates, or spoon in to a large bowl or platter. Serve with garlic toast wedges on the side.
Tips & Tidbits for my Italian Chopped Salad:
- Romaine lettuce for crunch and flavor: Anytime I can opt for a lettuce with lots of green color, I like to do that. Romaine lettuce is nice and crunchy, and bit more flavorful than iceberg lettuce, so I use that as my base for this chopped salad. However, if you prefer iceberg, or have that on hand already, feel free to use that.
- Dry Italian salami, or your favorite kind: I love the flavor of dry, Italian salami with its savory, robust flavor. However, feel free to use your favorite kind of salami, and simply chop it up into tiny pieces before adding to the salad.
- Whole-milk mozzarella for creamy flavor: While fresh mozzarella is a great option for this recipe, I like to use whole-milk mozzarella as it is slightly firmer and very easy to cube into small pieces. If you opt for fresh mozzarella, be sure to pat it dry of any brine it is packed in to keep the salad from getting soggy.
- Prepare your Italian chopped salad ahead, for convenience: If you'd like to prep this hearty salad to serve the next day, simply chop all of the veggies, cheese, salami and greens, and add them to a large bowl, then cover with plastic wrap and keep in the fridge. Prep the dressing and keep that in a container in the fridge as well. When ready to serve, take the dressing out of the fridge about 20-30 minutes before dressing the salad to allow it to come to room temp. To assemble, prepare the garlic toasts (if serving those), then toss the salad with the vinaigrette, and serve.
Hungry for more cool and refreshing salad recipes? Check out this Greek Salad, this Panzanella Salad, this Avocado Salad with Zesty Lime Dressing, this Honeycrisp Apple Salad, or this Mexican Wedge Salad!
Cook's Note: This recipe was originally published in 2012, and has been updated with even more love!
Katie @ OhShineOn
I love this recipe so much. Totally reminds me of my summer in Italy -- can you believe it's been almost a year?! I'd love to go back. Have you ever been? Oh wow, I could eat my way through that country and never have another care in the world!
Love all of Italy. The food is so diversified by region. All ingredients are so very fresh. Will go back any time just to wallow in the food and wine and beautiful people. This recipe is so good. I added chopped red onion on one occasion and switched out the dry salami for a mortadella.
The Cozy Apron
Wonderful, Lorna! Thank you for your lovely comments.
Wow, this looks so good!! Mediterranean flavors are my favorite, and this combination sounds like Italian comfort flavors at their best. My only question is, did you find the dressing too strong in flavor since the recipe calls for raw garlic in the vinaigrette?
Hi Patrick, thanks for your comment and question. I personally really
like the slightly spicy kick that the garlic in the vinaigrette
provides in this particular type of salad. It's a bold salad to begin
with and I find that the garlic provides some added zip considering
the quantity of ingredients in this recipe.
This looks packed full of flavor and family tradition! I love the garlic toast on the side; I would totally scoop up this salad on a wedge of that toast!
This is a nice twist on the traditional chopped salad. Looks delish!
Made this for dinner tonight and it was a big hit! Simply delicious! Thanks so much for sharing your recipe.
Hi Suzanne, so thrilled you gave the recipe a try and came back to comment on your experience- thank YOU! Glad you enjoyed it.
My mom makes a very similar dish every summer, so I can imagine how good it tastes.
She boils curly pasta and lets it cool off. In the meanwhile she chops up onions, cucumber, tomatoes, red bell peppers, rucola salad, dry salami and mozarella cheese. She mingles it then in a bowl with the pasta and tops it off with salt, pepper and olive oil. It was always a huge hit on warm summer evenings!
Hi Esther, sounds really tasty- thanks for coming by to share!
Do you use all of the salad dressing for the four servings of salad?
Hi Delora, I would use all of the dressing for the four servings, but my recommendation to you would be to start slowly, and add a little at a time, depending on your personal taste. Try about half at first, toss the salad to combine, and if you feel you need more, go ahead and add more; you can always add, you can't take away, right?
Thank you for sharing your recipe. I made it for my family and it was a big hit. I added some chopped up chic peas and a little more olive oil to the dressing with some freshly squeezed lemon. It was delish!!!!
The Cozy Apron
Hi Pam, thank you for coming back to share with me your experience with this recipe! Your additions sound great - a little extra protein from the chickpeas is always a plus! Glad you and your family enjoyed this.
This salad was great, and the dressing was fabulous! We will have to put it into the weekly rotation!
The Cozy Apron
Michelle, thanks so much for sharing that! And I'm honored to potentially have it go into the weekly rotation—perfect for spring/summer!
This looks wonderful- 4 romaine hearts seems like a lot of lettuce to me, so perhaps I am not thinking of the same thing. In our grocery stores we get 3 romaine hearts to a bag- is this the same as yours roughly? If not, how may leaves would this be? Might be a stupid question!
The Cozy Apron
Hi Diane, no such thing as stupid questions! 🙂 My reasoning was 1 romaine heart per person roughly, as when you chop it up finely, it isn't all that much. I bought the 3 pack plus used one more heart; but just go with the 3 hearts—a 3 pack—if you prefer (or if you think the 4 would be too much for your needs) and you should be just fine. (My portion size was fairly large on this salad.) Hope you enjoy!
This recipe was so delicious! I did modify the salad ingredients to my family's preference, for instance, I added only a sprinkling of onions and omitted the pepper. The dressing has excellent flavors with no modification.
Thanks so much for sharing this recipe, this one will be in made again very soon!
The Cozy Apron
Maggie, so glad you and your family enjoyed this salad! It's great that you modified to your family's taste, too. Thank you for your comments!
I made this salad last night for our lunches this week. I'm eating it now and there is a party in my mouth. I normally hate salad but this sald is so delicious. Thank you for sharing.
The Cozy Apron
Hi Monique! Being the self-professed hater of salads that you say you are, I'm thrilled that you actually decided to even make this recipe! 🙂 I'm so glad you're enjoying it, and I thank you for taking the time to share your comment with me. Happy grazing!
The directions are not very clear it doesn't state when to add the ingredients
The Cozy Apron
Hi Suz, so sorry it's not clear! This was one of our early recipes, and I can see that the wording could be better. What I'm saying is to combine the romaine hearts with the remainder of the ingredients up to and including the parsley in a large bowl. Hope that helps! Please enjoy. 😉
I’m making this salad for my husbands pot luck party. How far in advance can I make it? I want it to still look nice. Thank you
The Cozy Apron
Kathryn, you could toss the greens (and other salad ingredients) together and have the actual salad ready, but I wouldn't add the dressing until the last minute because the salad will become soggy as it sits, as you can imagine.
Can your husband add the dressing and toss the salad before he lays it out on the pot luck table? If not, I would suggest that perhaps the dressing be served separately, on the side, for folks to add to individual portions.
Better that than soggy greens, lol! 😉
Hope you all enjoy.
I want to pin this recipe to my salad board but there is no pin button. What happened?
The Cozy Apron
Hi Rebecca, the "pin" button does work, but it now appears when the image is tapped. I, myself, have been able to pin these images, so it is working; however, it does seem to be a little bit fickle.
Try to tap the picture, and the red "pin it" icon should appear, though give it a moment, if needed. If you're still having issues doing it this way, then tap and hold the picture, and you should be asked if you'd like to "share"; then proceed with how you'd like to share (i.e. Pinterest, etc.)
Hope this helps!
This is such a great recipe and have made this salad for years now. We love it and it is even better in the summer saving us from the heat. Thank you for posting it! This last week was the first time I did the garlic bread like you describe, and WOW, I did not realize what we were missing. Everyone, including my company, thought it was wonderful. I don't think I can ever go back to garlic powder/salt on my bread ever again. Thank you!!
The Cozy Apron
Cherylann, thanks so much for sharing this with me! I'm so very happy to read that you've been enjoying this recipe for years now, sharing it with friends and family. And kudos to you for trying out that garlic toast—isn't it super flavorful?! Nothing like fresh garlic rubbed on bread. 😉