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Big Classic Italian Salad

Classic Italian Salad with tomatoes, parmesan cheese, olives, onion, pepperoncinis, and homemade Italian dressing. This extra crunchy salad is bursting with big bold flavors and makes the best side dish for big families!

Large bowl of Italian salad with a golden serving spoon, golden napkin, and bowl of cherry tomatoes to the side.

Whenever I’m bringing a side dish to a potluck or an event that requires food, I find a traditional huge Italian salad is always a great option.

First and foremost, I find a good portion of people enjoy having some form of fresh vegetables included in a meal so fresh salads or roasted veggies are always a good idea.

Secondly, this amazing Italian salad recipe includes a plethora of big flavors and textures, which makes it extra enticing. It will make you go back for seconds or thirds. This simple side salad takes crisp lettuce to a whole new level.

And finally, this simple recipe is so customizable! Just see the Recipe Adaptations section below for customization ideas.

This salad recipe is designed to make A LOT of salad, ideal for family gatherings, holidays, or any special occasion where you’re looking to feed a crowd.

If the salad is one of the only side dishes you’re serving, it very comfortably serves 8. If a couple of other sides are involved, this salad can easily serve upwards of 12 people. 

In this sense, if you’re serving less than 8 people, I recommend halving the recipe. While I’m almost always up for leftovers, I try not to make too much salad because leftover salad isn’t my favorite once it gets soggy.

One of the best parts about this amazing salad recipe is it comes together lightning fast! All it takes is a few minutes of prep and you’ve got yourself a massive, impressive side dish that the whole family will love!

Wooden serving bowl full of Italian chopped salad with a napkin to the side and a bowl of cherry tomatoes.

The whole ingredient list can be found any grocery store, so you will have no problem finding everything you need.

Ingredients for Italian Chopped Salad:

Italian Dressing Ingredients:

The simple ingredients for my easy Italian dressing recipe are extra-virgin olive oil, white wine vinegar (or lemon juice or red wine vinegar), garlic powder, onion powder, dried parsley, dried oregano, black pepper, and sea salt. 

This combination of ingredients makes a delicious dressing to tie the hearty salad together.

If you prefer using fresh garlic or fresh herbs, feel free to do so.

Italian Salad Ingredients:

Romaine Lettuce: The leafy greens that make the base of this salad. I like using romaine lettuce but some people use iceberg lettuce.

Any kind of fresh greens will work, including Spring greens or baby spinach, but romaine hearts have a marvelous crunch.

Kalamata Olives: Olives bring a briny, rich, tangy flavor to the salad. If you prefer black olives or green olives, feel free to make the swap.

Otherwise, pick up pitted sliced kalamata olives for a delicious addition.

Pepperoncinis: Adding a kick of heat and some extra crunchy pepperoncini peppers contribute more briny flavor. If you prefer mild food, skip the pepperoncinis.

Salami: A classic addition to Italian chopped salad, we cut salami slices into thin strips for some meaty deliciousness and protein.

Red Onion: Adding zingy flavor to this big bold salad, we need some red onion. If raw red onions are too much, replace them with green onions or omit them altogether. 

Cherry Tomatoes: Fresh tomatoes bring a burst of juicy flavor. I like cutting cherry tomatoes or grape tomatoes in half, but chopped roma tomatoes, vine-ripened tomatoes, or heirloom tomatoes work great too.

Juicy tomatoes are a great way of adding more vegetables to the dish with bursts of moisture and tanginess. 

Parmesan Cheese: Fresh grated parmesan cheese adds that delightful cheesy flavor which ties all the classic Italian flavors together.

Looking for ways of customizing this simple salad recipe? Here are some ideas.

Recipe Adaptations:

  • Switch out the zesty homemade Italian dressing for Caesar dressing, balsamic vinaigrette, or any of your favorite homemade dressing recipes.
  • Add any of your favorite fresh vegetables, such as diced avocado, bell peppers, Persian cucumbers or English cucumbers, carrots, celery, raw broccoli, sprouts, etc.
  • If you’re a fan of nuts or seeds in your salads, feel free to toss some in! Pine nuts, pumpkin seeds, and walnuts are my top recommendations. Almonds, sunflower seeds, and pecans work too though!
  • Love adding cheese to your salads? Add fresh mozzarella cheese, provolone cheese, or chopped gruyere or gouda cheese. Dairy-free cheese works too for a dairy-free option.
  • Get creative with your “Italian” add-ins. You can add artichoke hearts, sun-dried tomatoes, capers, and more!
  • Want to turn this into a main course? Add rotisserie chicken, chopped steak or tri tip or sauteed shrimp to add extra protein for a complete meal.
  • Include homemade croutons or store-bought croutons for extra crunch in this big Italian salad.
  • Swap the dried oregano and dried parsley for Italian seasoning in the dressing.
  • Add one can of garbanzo beans, cannellini beans, or kidney beans (drained first).

Now that we’ve covered the basic ingredients for Italian chopped salad, let’s make it!

How to Make Italian Salad:

Add the ingredients for the salad dressing to a small bowl or measuring cup and mix well to combine. Set aside until ready to use, and stir well just before using.

Italian salad dressing ingredients in a measuring cup.

Chop the romaine lettuce, tomatoes, and onions. Add all of the salad ingredients to a very large bowl or large serving bowl. Note: this salad recipe makes a huge salad so if you don’t have a large mixing bowl, use two bowls.

Ingredients for Italian chopped salad in a large bowl.

Drizzle your desired amount of dressing over the salad and toss well to combine. Save any extra salad dressing in a mason jar for up to 2 weeks.

Pouring salad dressing into the bowl with the salad ingredients.

Taste the salad for flavor and add more parmesan cheese and/or dressing to your personal taste. You can also add more of any of the ingredients for extra flavor.

Large bowl of Italian salad with wooden spoons to the side, freshly tossed.

Serve Italian salad with your main dish and enjoy!

Green salads are best when served fresh but this salad stays crunchy for about 12 hours. If you have any leftovers, store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 day following prep.

Wooden bowl full of Italian salad with fresh veggies and homemade dressing

So the next time you’re craving a big salad with plenty of flavor, whip up this quick and simple Italian salad recipe!

If you love making great salads, also try out these reader favorites!

More Salad Recipes:

Italian salad for every occasion!

Large bowl of Italian salad with a golden serving spoon, golden napkin, and bowl of cherry tomatoes to the side.

Massive Classic Italian Salad

A big, hearty Italian chopped salad recipe with all sorts of flavorful goodies! Easy to customize and the perfect side dish for any event necessitating food.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 0 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
10 Servings

Ingredients

Italian Dressing:

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 3 Tbsp white vinegar, rice vinegar, or lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp dried parsley
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt

For the Salad:

  • 14 to 16 ounces romaine leaf lettuce, chopped*
  • 1 cup kalamata olives, sliced
  • 1 cup pepperoncinis
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes, halves
  • 2 cups salami, cut into strips
  • ½ cup red onion, thinly sliced
  • 6 ounces grated parmesan cheese, to taste (about ½ to 1 cup of grated parm)

Instructions

  • Add the ingredients for the salad dressing to a small bowl or measuring cup and mix well to combine. Set aside until ready to use, and stir well just before using.
  • Chop the romaine lettuce, tomatoes, and onions. Add all of the salad ingredients to a very large bowl or large serving bowl. Note: this salad recipe makes a huge salad so if you don’t have a large mixing bowl, use two bowls.
  • Drizzle your desired amount of dressing over the salad and toss well to combine. Save any extra salad dressing in a mason jar for up to 2 weeks. Taste the salad for flavor and add more parmesan cheese and/or dressing to your personal taste. You can also add more of any of the ingredients for extra flavor.
  • Serve Italian salad with your main dish and enjoy!

Notes

*This is roughly one large head or two packages of pre-cut romaine lettuce.

Nutrition

Serving: 1Serving (of 10)Calories: 281kcalCarbohydrates: 6gProtein: 9gFat: 25gSaturated Fat: 6gPolyunsaturated Fat: 3gMonounsaturated Fat: 14gCholesterol: 36mgSodium: 963mgFiber: 3gSugar: 2g
Course: Salad
Cuisine: American
Keyword: big salad recipes, chopped salad recipes, entrée salad recipes, filling salad recipes, healthy salad recipes, Italian salad, salad recipes
Servings: 10 Servings
Calories: 281kcal
Author: Julia

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