My Chopped Italian Salad is your excuse to open up the doors and take dinner outside. It’s a combination of crunchy veggies and Mediterranean flavors that just can’t be beat.
A chopped Italian salad is made for outdoor eating
There’s something so liberating about the arrival of warmer weather. We may not get to go to the park or the beach or our favorite restaurant, but we can sure as heck get out to the backyard, and this chopped Mediterranean salad was just made for balmy evenings and family cookouts. Later on, hopefully, we’ll be bringing it to potlucks, church suppers, and neighborhood barbecues, but for now, I’m happy with baby steps 😉
And while it’s perfect for potlucks because there’s no mayo involved, it does double duty as a healthy working lunch. Make a batch on Sunday and eat it all week. You’ll get lots of fresh crunchy veggies, and a dose of protein to keep you going.
I love to compose colorful chopped salads like this one with each healthy ingredient radiating out like spokes of a color wheel.
Because why shouldn’t salad making be a creative exercise? A composed salad is simply one that you arrange, instead of randomly toss. You can make it this way ahead of time, wrap in plastic, and then toss it with the dressing dramatically at the table just before serving. Everybody will oooh and aaah.
Ingredient suggestions for a chopped Mediterranean salad
(They’ll come equally from the fridge and pantry, making this a versatile recipe.) Do you need them all? No! Mix and match, use whatever says “Italian’ to you.
- radicchio ~ this is the ‘greens’ portion of the salad, although it happens to be a rich magenta. Could be romaine, or arugula, too.
- colorful bell peppers
- chickpeas ~ white beans would work also
- peperoncini ~ or any other marinated pepper
- salami ~ leave it out for vegetarians
- black and green olives
- cauliflower ~ or zucchini
- cherry tomatoes
- parsley ~ could be basil
- red onion
- mozzarella ~ could be diced provolone
This chopped salad is hearty enough to be a meal in itself
If you know me you know I love salad for dinner. My husband doesn’t always share my passion, he’ll take a tiny portion as a side dish, while I’ll make a meal of it. But that’s ok, because I know I’m doing my body good. You’ll feel healthy but not deprived…just add some crusty bread and a nice glass of wine 🙂
Make a simple Italian vinaigrette for this Mediterranean salad
No need to do anything fancy, a classic dressing will do. I use extra virgin olive oil, red wine vinegar, and some dried Italian herbs. Salt and pepper finish it off. It’s basically the homemade version of the stuff in the bottle; delicious, without the chemicals.
Tip: when using dried herbs, always crush them between your fingers first, that revives the flavor and aroma.
The salad is sturdy enough to make ahead
If you do make it ahead, leave out the tomatoes until you’re ready to serve, they don’t do well in the refrigerator. Dress it lightly and reserve the rest for when you’re ready to eat. Then add extra if necessary.
If you love chopped salads like I do, check these out!
Chopping salads not only makes them pretty, it makes them easier to eat, and allows you to get so many great flavors and textures in every bite. Chunky chopped salads keep well, and make ideal side dishes for outdoor entertaining.
Chopped Italian Salad
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 3 Tbsp red wine vinegar
- 1/4 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp dried Italian herbs
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp sugar
- 1 small head of radicchio, diced
- 1/2 cup each, red pepper, yellow pepper, and orange pepper, diced
- 1/2 cup canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 1/4 cup peperoncini, chopped
- 1/2 cup sliced or chopped salami
- 1/4 cup black olives, sliced
- 1/4 cup green olives, sliced
- 1/2 cup small cauliflower florets
- 1/2 cup cherry tomatos, halved
- 1/4 cup minced parsley
- 1/4 cup minced red onion
- 1/2 cup diced cucumber
- 1/2 cup mozzarella pearls
- Whisk together the dressing and taste to adjust any of the ingredients. Set aside.
- Add all the salad ingredients to a side shallow salad bowl. You can arrange them like I did, or not. Toss with enough dressing to your taste. If you're not serving right away you can reseve some of the dressing for later.