- Food: Italian Chop Salad
- Writer: Nicolas Wilson
- Content-Type: Food Blog
Today I’d want to set a challenge for you (and myself). I challenge us all to start cooking a big fresh salad on Sundays so we can eat salad for the rest of the week.
Let’s start with this massive, colorful, and, dare I say, greatest Italian chopped salad.
You might even reach for the salad before reaching for the bag of chips if you have a really good salad in the fridge.
That’s what happened to me! I’ve had four different versions of this salad in the last few weeks (especially the final form you see here), and I’m still hungry for more.
When I ordered an Italian chopped salad and a pricey Neapolitan pizza down the street, it inspired me to make this salad.
I asked for the chopped salad without the bacon, and it lacked that salty, savory, gimme-more edge without it. Crispy bacon is the only meat I miss when I’m not eating it.
The Best Chopped Salad
I set out to make a better meatless Italian chopped salad, and this is what I came up with. Crisp lettuce, radicchio, red onion, fresh tomatoes, pepperoncini peppers, and provolone cheese are among the customary ingredients.
I tried a few different types of cheese, but it’s no surprise that provolone is the most popular—it’s the best. You could, however, easily omit it in favor of a fantastic dairy-free/vegan salad.
There are a few surprise components in this salad that elevate it to new heights. First, chickpeas, which aren’t uncommon but provide heft to this salad.
I also included celery for added crunch and sun-dried tomatoes for added flavor. Sun-dried tomatoes’ umami flavor compensates for the umami-rich pork found in most Italian chopped salads.
Toss all of those ingredients in a strong, homemade Italian vinaigrette and you’ve got yourself a salad that’ll keep you coming back for more. Smaller servings as a side dish or larger portions as a light supper have both appealed to me.
Italian Chopped Salad
|Time to Prepare: 20 minutes
20-minute total time
Salad Yield: 6 to 8 side serving
With chopped fresh greens and veggies in a simple Italian vinaigrette, this is the tastiest Italian chopped salad dish. This salad is both vegetarian and vegan-friendly.
This recipe serves 6 to 8 people as a side dish or 3 to 4 people as a dinner (a lot). The salad will keep for up to 4 days if stored separately from the vinaigrette.
- 10 ounces chopped romaine lettuce* (about 2 medium or 3 small heads, chopped)
- ½ medium head of radicchio*, finely chopped (about 2 cups)
- ½ medium red onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
- 2 ribs celery, chopped
- 1-pint cherry tomatoes, thinly sliced
- ⅓ cup stemmed and thinly sliced pickled pepperoncini peppers
- ⅓ cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, rinsed and roughly chopped
- 1 can (15 ounces) chickpeas, rinsed and drained, or 1 ½ cups cooked chickpeas
- 1 cup (4 ounces) ¼″ cubes of provolone cheese (optional)
- ⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- ⅓ cup red wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 10 twists of freshly ground black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon salt, more to taste
- Pinch of red pepper flakes, for heat (optional)
- Combine the chopped lettuce, radicchio, onion, celery, cherry tomatoes, peppers, sun-dried tomatoes, chickpeas, and cheese in a large serving bowl (if using). Combine the ingredients in a mixing bowl and set aside.
- In a liquid measuring cup, combine all of the ingredients to make the dressing. Blend everything together until it’s smooth. If the dressing doesn’t knock your socks off, season with extra salt (I usually add one to two more pinches of salt).
- If you’re going to serve the entire salad at once, drizzle in enough dressing to lightly cover the salad and toss to incorporate. I prefer to keep the salad and dressing separate so that I can eat it for several days. Simply re-whisk the dressing before drizzling (if the olive oil freezes in the refrigerator, don’t panic; this is normal; simply reheat it up for 5 minutes at room temperature or in the microwave for 10 to 20 seconds).
- TO MAKE IT DAIRY-FREE/VEGAN: Leave out the cheese! It’s still fantastic even without it. Maple syrup can be used instead of honey to make a vegan dressing.
- NOTES ON ROMAINE AND RADICCHIO: If you’re in a rush, buy two bags of chopped romaine/radicchio mix and chop it into even smaller, bite-sized pieces. Although radicchio is bitter and difficult to come by, I felt it gave a unique flavor to this salad. If you don’t like it or can’t find it, don’t bother. Feel free to use the entire head if you like it.