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!