Classic Chopped Italian Salad - Serve as a Colorful Dinner

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Classic Chopped Italian Salad - Serve as a Colorful Dinner

Salads come in many shapes and sizes.

Some are almost an afterthought to the lettuce and greens from the fridge drawer, but chopped Italian slaw is much more iconic.

A thick bed of romaine lettuce topped with ALL the good ingredients.

A good chopped salad will have a mix of spicy marinades, meats, cheeses, and crisp fresh greens.

Though this salad was made to be served alongside hearty dishes like pizza, chicken parmigiana, or pasta dishes, it's healthy enough to be the star of the dinner on its own.

Homemade Italian Vinaigrette

I make my vinaigrette by combining fresh lemon juice, mustard, vinegar, olive oil, sugar, dried oregano, salt, and pepper in a glass jar with a lid.

Shake for a few seconds to combine the ingredients and voila!

You can definitely keep this in the fridge for up to 1 week, but it will separate and solidify in the fridge.

So place the jar in warm water and shake to bring the sauce back to room temperature before serving.

You don't need to make your own vinaigrette for this salad.

There's enough going on here that you can get away with a vinaigrette bought from a good quality store like Newman's Own.

You don't want a vinaigrette that is too sweet and has a lot of herbs and acidity.

Pickled vegetables are the star

My favorite thing about a good Italian chopped salad is a mix of pickled vegetables.

I used pepperoncini and roasted red peppers for this version, but you can experiment with other options.

Chopped pickled vegetables like cabbage, okra, or even spicy pickles would make great additions to the salad.

The salt and heat of the pickled vegetables are important here because they take away some of the richness of this salad that comes from the cheese and meat. Do not jump!

Easy replacements

  • Swap out the meat for other cured meats, such as pepperoni or capicola. Or skip the meat entirely for a vegetarian version.
  • Add even more pickled items, like olives or capers, to the salad, if you like.
  • Swap out the base of the salad for chopped kale or baby spinach.

Make a meal!

This is a pretty hearty salad, but if you want to make it a full main dish, serve it with some baked salmon like this Easy Baked Salmon, Grilled Chicken with Yogurt, or even sliced flank steak.


For the Italian vinaigrette

  • 1 lemon, squeezed
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons of sugar
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

for the salad

  • 2 heads of romaine lettuce, chopped
  • 1/2 red onion, chopped
  • 1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1 liter of cherry tomatoes cut in half
  • 4 ounces genoa salami, chopped
  • 8 ounces fresh mozzarella, chopped
  • 1/2 cup sliced pepperoncini
  • 1/4 cup sliced roasted red bell pepper
  • 10 fresh basil leaves, chopped


Making the dressing:

In a pitcher with a lid, add the lemon juice, mustard, vinegar, sugar, oregano, olive oil, kosher, salt, and black pepper.

Add lid and shake for 10 seconds until all ingredients are well combined. Taste and adjust seasonings to your liking.

Make the salad:

Add chopped romaine lettuce to a large bowl and drizzle with a few tablespoons of the dressing.

Top lettuce with red onion, chickpeas, cherry tomatoes, mozzarella, pepperoncini, roasted red peppers, and basil.

Mix well before serving.

Add more sauce if you like.


Serve the salad in bowls with pasta or pizza for a classic Italian meal.

Leftovers and Storage:

If you plan to save this salad for later, I recommend saving it without the dressing.

If you season and have leftovers, that's fine - seasoned salad lasts 1-2 days in the fridge.

Vegetables wilt quickly after dressing.

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