This Italian Salad is tossed in an easy homemade Italian vinaigrette, and tastes like a house salad you’d get from an Italian restaurant. You can make it in just a few minutes!
Why You’ll Love It
It’s delicious. The dressing alone will make you want to lick your plate clean. When you pair it with fresh veggies, crunchy croutons, and a little shredded Parmesan, it’s hard to resist.
It’s easy. All you have to do is shake a few ingredients together in a jar to make the dressing, then pour it over chopped veggies. The whole thing should take less than 15 minutes to assemble!
It’s easy to customize. If you need a gluten-free recipe, make your own homemade croutons using gluten-free bread, or omit them all together and use canned or crispy baked chickpeas instead. If you prefer another type of cheese, such as feta or provolone cheese, feel free to swap that, too.
It’s allergy-friendly. The dressing is naturally nut-free, dairy-free & vegan, so if you need a vegan recipe you can simply leave off the cheese.
It’s versatile. You can serve the leftover dressing over cooked pasta for an easy pasta salad, or serve this salad as a side dish for practically any main course you love. When you add your favorite protein on top, like baked chicken breasts, it can even become the main course! (Try baked tofu for a vegetarian option.)
Ingredients You’ll Need
What is in an Italian salad recipe?
- Homemade Italian dressing
- Chopped lettuce
- Red onion
- Cherry tomatoes
- Parmesan cheese
- Croutons or beans
That covers the basics, but you can also add any extra toppings you love, such as olives, artichoke hearts, or fresh basil.
Iceberg lettuce is a common base for an Italian salad, but I tend to use a mix of romaine lettuce and radicchio, when I can find it. The radicchio adds extra color and a spicy and slightly bitter flavor, so feel free to leave it out if that doesn’t appeal to you, or if you can’t find it at the store.
How to Make the Best Italian Salad
1. Prepare the toppings.
If you haven’t already done so, be sure to prepare baked croutons or roasted chickpeas, if you’d like an added crunch. You can also use store-bought croutons if you prefer.
Croutons can be made a day in advance, but roasted chickpeas are best served right away. When adding chickpeas to this salad, I usually just use rinsed & drained chickpeas straight from the can, so I don’t have to worry about baking them. They add a nice texture, and extra protein & fiber at the same time!
2. Prepare the dressing.
In a mason jar with a lid, add the extra virgin olive oil, red wine vinegar, lemon juice, mustard, garlic, dried oregano, salt, and pepper. Stir or shake well to combine, then set it aside.
In a large bowl, add the chopped romaine lettuce, radicchio (if using), cherry tomatoes, red onions, pepperoncinis (cut into slices to help distribute the flavor), chickpeas, and shredded Parmesan cheese.
Drizzle on a generous portion of the homemade Italian vinaigrette, and toss well. Taste the salad and add more dressing, if needed. Then add the crunchy croutons and serve right away.
Storage & Make Ahead Tips
The lettuce will become soggy if you store it after adding the dressing, so I recommend only preparing what you plan to eat right away.
The Italian salad dressing will keep well in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days, so this is an easy option to make in advance as part of your meal prep routine.
You can store the chopped veggies in separate containers in the fridge, and quickly assemble this salad when you are ready to eat. It’s almost like having a salad bar ready to go in your fridge!
More Salad Recipes To Try
Thai Salad with Peanut Dressing. When you want something a little different, this salad combination is hard to beat! It’s lightly sweet and tangy, with a creamy peanut ginger dressing.
Strawberry Spinach Salad. This is the perfect summer salad, topped with a delicious Lemon Poppy Seed Dressing. A definite must-try when strawberries are in season.
Ultimate Spring Salad. Featuring fresh spring veggies, like asparagus and creamy avocado, this salad is the perfect way to welcome warmer weather. The basil dressing is amazing!
Vegan Caesar Salad. This creamy salad is made without using mayo or eggs, but it tastes just as satisfying as the real thing!
Italian Salad Ingredients
- 1 head Romaine lettuce , chopped
- 1 small head radicchio , chopped (optional)
- 1/2 red onion , thinly sliced
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes , sliced in half
- 1/2 cup sliced pepperoncini (optional)
- 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
- 1 cup croutons (or canned chickpeas)
- ⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder (or 1 minced garlic clove)
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- ¾ teaspoon fine sea salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- To prepare the dressing, add the olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice, mustard, garlic, oregano, salt, and black pepper to a mason jar with a lid. Stir or shake very well, until the dressing looks well mixed. Set it aside as you assemble the salad.
- To prepare the salad, add the chopped romaine, radicchio (if using), red onion, tomatoes, pepperonchi, and Parmesan to a large bowl. Add a generous drizzle of dressing, and toss well to combine.
- Taste the salad and add more dressing, to taste. You might not use all of the dressing, and in that case you can save it in the fridge for a future salad. Add the croutons shortly before serving, so they won't get soggy. (Or use chickpeas for a protein-rich swap.) Serve the salad right away for the best taste and texture.
- Leftover veggies and dressing can be stored separately in airtight containers in the fridge for up to 5 days. I don't recommend storing the salad for too long after adding the dressing, as the lettuce will become soggy quickly. (So will the croutons!)
If you try this Italian Salad recipe, please leave a comment and star rating below letting me know how you like it.
Questions and Reviews
I love the simplicity of this salad. I made it for meal prep this week, along with the baked chicken you linked above. So fresh and flavorful! I skipped the croutons and it was still amazing. One thing about the dressing – the oil started to solidify after a day in the fridge, so I left it out since I would be using it over a few days. I’m terrible at remembering to take it out early to get to room temp!
Mouth watering salad dressing. Obsessed!