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Last updated on June 3rd, 2024 at 05:12 pm

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Italian Chopped Salad [video]

This Italian chopped salad is the perfect delicious mix of savory meat, creamy cheese, fresh vegetables, and crunchy seeds coated in a tangy lemon and red wine dressing. You can serve this for lunch, as a side dish, an appetizer, or even a main entrée for dinner. It has everything you need to fill everyone up, and since it is all chopped, you get all the flavors in every bite. It is incredibly easy to make, and you will be surprised by its rich taste and different textures!

You cannot beat this Italian chopped salad because it has everything: meat, cheese, veggies, seeds, and omg lots of flavor. Those in the mood for a savory meal will enjoy it because of the ham, salami, and cheese, while those who like tangy veggies will love the red onions, olives, and bell peppers. 

If your kids do not like black olives and pine nuts, replace them or skip them. If someone does not like red onions, substitute them for shallots or leeks. With so many different ingredients, it is easy to ensure everyone gets what they like. It is quite versatile because you can change the meats, cheese, and vegetables as you need to.

When I serve this loaded salad to guests, I usually leave out the dressing and set out bowls of different homemade dressings, including Catalina, Greek, French, and ranch, as well as the lemon red wine dressing and the balsamic glaze. That way, everyone can choose what they like. Most people choose Italian dressing, whether it is because of the name or the flavor.

Why you will love this recipe

  • Light and hearty: With meat and veggies, it is both a hearty meal and a light snack.
  • Lots of flavor: You get a burst of flavor in every single bite.
  • No cooking required: You do not have to heat the house by turning on the oven.
  • Fast and easy: Chop, toss, and serve.

What you’ll need to make this Italian chopped salad

Special items:

  • Knives – For chopping.
  • Bowls – For mixing.

Salad ingredients:

  • Lettuce – I use Romaine lettuce, chopped into chunks about one to two inches in size.
  • Onion – Red onion is what I prefer, sliced thin.
  • Tomatoes – Cherry tomatoes cut in half into bite-size pieces. Drained so the salad does not get soggy.
  • I recommend black olives, cut in half, for the right flavor.
  • Meats – I chose salami and ham, cut into cubes to go with the Italian flavor.
  • Bell pepper – I use red bell pepper, also cut into cubes.
  • Cheese – Mozzarella is the best Italian cheese for this salad. Cut into cubes, of course.
  • Pine nuts – Add crunch and some piney flavor to every bite.
  • Sunflower seeds – These also add crunch but also nuttiness.
  • Basil – Slightly spicy and sweet, fresh chopped basil adds a lovely accent.
  • Balsamic glaze – is a sweet, tangy, thick syrup for extra flavor before serving the salad.
  • Parmesan cheese – Freshly grated just before serving.

For the lemon dressing:

  • Lemon juice – Be sure to squeeze the juice yourself for the freshest taste.
  • Red wine vinegar – Adds a fruity aroma with a sour and smoky grape flavor.
  • Olive oil – I prefer extra virgin olive oil because it is light and mild.
  • Oregano – The ultimate Italian herb. You cannot make anything Italian without oregano’s grassy, herby taste.
  • Salt – Kosher salt is best for its clean taste.
  • Pepper – I only use freshly ground black pepper for the best flavor.

How to make Italian chopped salad?

  1. Mix the salad: First, combine all of the salad ingredients in a large bowl.
  2. Make the dressing: Then, mix all the dressing ingredients in a small bowl.
  3. Combine and serve: Last, add dressing to the salad and toss until coated. Then, serve drizzled with balsamic glaze and parmesan cheese.

Expert tip

How to properly chop a salad

The professional way to chop a salad is to use a mezzaluna knife. However, unless you are a professional, you may not have one of these specialized utensils in your kitchen. The curved handle typically has two blades and two handles, so you can hold it and rock it back and forth to cut a bunch of things at once without them getting stuck together. The more economical salad mezzalunas are usually smaller and can be held in one hand.

They also sell salad choppers made just for chopping lettuce and other types of vegetables. Some of them come with bowls so that the vegetables fall right into the bowl as you chop them. These are fine for lettuce and a few other vegetables, but I like to use a good chopping knife to cut the meats, cheese, bell peppers, and tomatoes.

Depending on the size of the vegetables you include, you can chop them together with a knife, a chopper, or a mezzaluna knife. If you want them all the same size but they are different sizes and shapes, you will have to use different methods. And for watery veggies like tomatoes, you should always do them separately.

Recipe variations and add-ins:

  • Different meats: You can add any meat you like, such as chicken, beef, turkey, pork, or even bacon.
  • Add seafood: Although it is not that Italian, seafood would also be great in this salad like shrimp, scallops, canned tuna or clams.
  • More veggies: Any kind of veggies would mix well, including broccoli, cauliflower, mushrooms, carrots, peas, and radishes.
  • Hot stuff: Add some chopped jalapenos or chili peppers to make your Italian salad hot. 
  • Sweet and savory salad: Sweeten it with fruits like pineapple chunks, chopped apples, mandarin oranges, cherries, berries, and melon.
  • Extra cheesy: You can never have too much cheese. Toss in some cheddar, Monterey, pepper jack, and parmesan.

Serving suggestions:

  • Serve with rolls or bread to soak up the dressing. Try my slow cooker bread, which only needs five ingredients.
  • Since it is Italian, why not serve it with spaghetti, ravioli, or zucchini lasagna rollups
  • This is a great potluck meal, and perfect for backyard bbq parties, especially when paired with some grilled corn on the cob.
  • For dessert, serve some Italian ice, tiramisu, or gelato.

Frequently asked questions

What is a chopped salad?

A chopped salad is popular with bite-sized veggies and meats rather than big pieces of lettuce and tomatoes. The pieces are all cut the same size, so they blend better to get a balanced taste in every bite. Many chopped salads have ingredients that will offer you salty, tangy, sweet, and spicy tastes in one bite. This salad has meat, veggies, cheese, nuts, and sweet dressing for various flavors.

How do I store lettuce before using it in a salad?

Before it is cut, you can store lettuce in a plastic container with a loose lid that allows air circulation. But do not wash it first. You want it to be dry and stay dry. Place a paper towel at the bottom to absorb any moisture. Once you have cut the lettuce, you have to put it in a bag, no matter what kind it is. First, make sure it is dry and wrap it in paper towels. Then, seal the bag with all the air squeezed out and store it in your salad crisper in the fridge.

How do you chop romaine lettuce for a salad?

First, rinse your lettuce and dry it well. You do not want a soggy salad. Then, place it on a cutting board and slice it in half lengthwise to make two long, skinny halves. Turn it upside down and cut off the core at an angle in a triangle shape. Now, flip it over and slice it into quarters or smaller pieces, making them as small as you like before turning halfway and cutting in the other direction.

What are some excellent salad dressings for Italian chopped salad?

You can use any dressing or sauce on this chopped salad besides the dressing I called for in this recipe and the balsamic glaze. Actually, it is so full of flavors that you can eat it with no dressing at all! I have enjoyed several of my homemade dressings, like Greek, Ranch, and Caesar. These rich and creamy dressings pair well with the different tastes in this salad. Thousand Island dressing and Catalina dressing would also be great choices because they are sweet.

How to store leftovers:

  • Refrigerate: If you will not eat it all, do not add dressing to the whole salad. You should keep the salad ingredients fresh in a baggie or sealed container in the fridge for several days and the dressing in a jar for five days.    
  • Freezing: Freezing is not recommended.   

More salad recipes:

Recipe tips:

  • When preparing the dressing, I recommend to let the ingredients sit together for 5-10 minutes to get the most flavor.
  • Store lettuce in a plastic container with a paper towel to stay dry until you use it.
  • Do not mix the dressing with the whole salad if you are not going to consume it all at once.
  • If you are not a fan of vinegar, you may replace it with the same amount of lemon juice. Any citrus juice will also be a good alternative.

Italian Chopped Salad Recipe

This Italian chopped salad is the perfect delicious mix of savory meat, creamy cheese, fresh vegetables, and crunchy seeds coated in a tangy lemon and red wine dressing.

  • Prep Time15 MIN
  • Cook Time
  • Servings 4 servings

Ingredients

Salad:

  • 1 large head Romaine lettuce chopped
  • 1 red onion sliced
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes halved
  • 1 cup black olives pitted and halved
  • 8 ounces deli ham cubed
  • 8 ounces salami cubed
  • 1 red bell pepper cubed
  • 1 1/2 cups mozzarella cheese cubed
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts seeds
  • 1/4 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/3 cup fresh basil leaves chopped

Dressing:

  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Garnish:

  • Balsamic glaze
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese grated

Instructions

  • Combine all "Salad" ingredients in a large bowl.
  • Combine all "Dressing" ingredients in a small bowl.
  • Add to the salad and toss to combine.
  • Serve immediately, drizzled with balsamic glaze and sprinkled with parmesan cheese.

Nutrition Facts

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Comments

(9)
Erin | Dinners, Dishes and Dessert

Erin | Dinners, Dishes and Dessert

Looks absolutely fantastic! I'm excited to make this!

Sandra

Sandra

I really love everything about this salad!! SO good and really amazing!

Sandra

Sandra

I loved it! Packed full of amazing flavors!

Krista

Krista

Now THIS is my kind of salad! Looks amazing!

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