This Simple Italian Salad is loaded with olives, pepperoncini, red onion, and cherry tomatoes and tossed with a zesty Italian dressing. This easy side dish salad takes just minutes to make and is perfect to serve with pasta or a wide variety of meals.
This Italian Salad recipe has got so much going on in the flavor department. It’s like antipasto in salad form and it is delicious!
This should be your go-to side dish salad recipe when you’re craving something fresh and crunchy with a warm and cozy pasta dish. As much as I love it with an Italian-inspired meal, it’s perfect for a wide variety of menus and can even be made into a main dish salad with the addition of a little protein.
- Romaine lettuce – Romaine hearts are the center most part of a head of romaine and a classic choice for an Italian Salad. The leaves are lighter in color and sweeter in flavor than the outer dark green leaves. You’ll need one romaine heart for this recipe.
- Butter lettuce – I love the contrast of tender butter lettuce with crunchy romaine. For some nice color contrast, look for a bagged butter lettuce blend.
- Red onion – Thinly sliced.
- Cherry or grape tomatoes
- Black olives – Be sure to buy pitted whole olives and slice them in half if they are very big. We love black olives but you can opt for green or Kalamata olives if you prefer them.
- Pepperoncini– Jarred pickled pepperoncini are sweet, mild and tangy and not at all spicy. They add so much classic Italian flavor!
- Croutons – Homemade croutons like my Hot Dog Bun Croutons (pictured in this post) or the Focaccia Croutons I do with my Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad are a perfect choice.
- Italian Dressing – This salad is delicious with my easy Homemade Italian Dressing (pictured above) but also really good with any type of dressing you love (see ideas below).
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Shaved Parmesan cheese – To get nice, thin shavings from your block of Parmesan, use the slicing blade on a box grater or run a vegetable peeler along one of the flat sides.
The Best Dressing for Italian Salad
While I love this salad with bold and zesty Homemade Italian Dressing, I don’t hesitate to use most any dressing I happen to have in the fridge. Try it with Light and Creamy Blue Cheese Dressing with some extra crumbles of blue cheese over the top. Honey Balsamic Vinaigrette is another great choice. Whether homemade or store-bought, toss this salad with your favorite dressing and make it something a little different each time.
How to Make Italian Salad
- Combine all the salad ingredients in a large bowl, except the Parmesan, croutons and dressing. Toss to combine.
- Add the croutons and drizzle the salad with as much dressing as desired. Toss again (being careful not to break up the croutons). Garnish with pepper and Parmesan shavings and serve with extra dressing on the side.
- Pasta tossed with Easy Homemade Spaghetti Sauce
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- Pasta Bolognese
- Creamy Baked Rigatoni with Meat Sauce
- Crock-Pot French Dip Sandwiches
Simple Italian Salad
- 1 romaine heart, chopped (3 cups)
- 4 cups loosely packed butter lettuce blend
- ½ small red onion, thinly sliced
- 1 cup halved red cherry or grape tomatoes
- ½ cup pitted medium black olives, whole or halved
- ½ cup jarred sliced pepperoncini
- 1 cup croutons, like Hot Dog Bun Croutons
- ¾ cup Homemade Italian Dressing, or your favorite salad dressing
- freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- ¼ cup shaved Parmesan cheese, see Notes
- Combine all the ingredients, except the Parmesan, croutons and dressing. Toss to combine. Add the croutons and drizzle with as much dressing as desired. Toss again to distribute the dressing (being careful not to break up the croutons). Garnish with pepper, to taste, and Parmesan shavings. Serve with extra dressing on the side.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated using generic ingredients, and is an estimate not a guarantee. For more accurate results, please refer to the labels on your ingredients at home.