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Published November 1, 2023. This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy.
This easy-to-make Italian Salad recipe is loaded with fresh greens, vegetables, and tomatoes tossed in a simple vinegar and oil dressing for the perfect start to any meal. You will love the flavors of this classic salad.
Italian salad has many variations and ingredients depending on where and who makes it. In Italy, it is a simple combination of tomatoes, olives, onions, herbs, and occasionally cucumbers tossed in a simple vinegar and oil dressing. In the United States, other vegetables are included, like olives and peppers, while also using leafy greens as the base.
When these simple salads were first brought to life, they were created based on what was in season and what was available, coupled with how to make them taste as best as they could. It can also be customized to your liking using ingredients you enjoy. While any dressing will work, I recommend using the simple vinegar and oil I used to compliment the salad without masking the flavor of any of the fresh vegetables.
Ingredients and Substitutions
- Lettuce – Romaine lettuce works best. However, you can use green or red-leaf lettuce or any of your favorite greens.
- Peppers – Any color bell pepper will work, although a red, yellow, or orange will be sweeter and have more flavor.
- Tomatoes – Any fresh tomato will work in this recipe. I prefer to use beef steaks, Roma’s, or San Marzano’s.
- Cucumbers – Any bread of cucumber works well.
- Onions – You can use a red, white, or sweet onion.
- Pepperoncini’s – This is optional, but some jarred pepperoncini add a little tang and zip to the Italian salad.
- Olives – I used a combination of Castelvetrano and black olives. However, you can use any pitted olive in this.
- Vinegar – Red wine vinegar is best to use, but you can also use balsamic/
- Oil – Olive oil is the only oil to use in this.
- Herbs – Some dry oregano adds a lot of flavors to this. You can substitute with dry basil.
- Cheese – freshly grated parmigiano Reggiano takes this salad ot the next level.
How to Make an Italian Salad
Cut the lettuce down into bite-sized pieces.
Prepare the vegetables.
Add the lettuce to a large bowl with the peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, pepperoncini’s, oregano, parmigiano, salt, and pepper.
Pour the vinegar and olive oil around the outside edges of the bowl.
Mix the salad, losing a large spoon and fork until combined.
Serve with additional parmigiana cheese.
Make-Ahead and Storage
Make-Ahead: Keep the dressing separate and the salad accompaniments separate, but you can prepare this up to 2 days ahead of time for freshness. Don’t season it until it’s ready to serve.
How To Store: If you can keep the seasoning and vinaigrette separate, cover, and keep it in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
Chef Notes + Tips
- Feel free to add a protein like cooked chicken, fish, or steak.
- You can also substitute the vinegar with fresh lemon juice.
- If you are using a larger tomato, then use 3 instead of 6.
More Salad Recipes
Easy Italian Salad Recipe
- 1 large head Romaine lettuce
- 1 seeded julienne red bell pepper
- ½ quarter sliced cucumber
- 6 quarter sliced roma or san marzano tomatoes
- ¼ peeled and thinly sliced red onion
- ½ cup sliced pepperoncinis, no juice
- ¼ cup pitted Castelvetrano olives
- ¼ cup pitted black olives
- 1 teaspoon dry oregano
- ¼ cup finely grated parmigiano Reggiano cheese
- 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- ¼ to 1/3 cup olive oil
- coarse salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste
- Cut the lettuce down to bitesize pieces.
- Prepare the vegetables.
- Add the lettuce to a large bowl with the peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, pepperoncini’s, oregano, parmigiana, salt, and pepper.
- Pour the vinegar and olive oil around the outside edges of the bowl.
- Mix the salad losing a large spoon and fork until combined.
- Serve with additional parmigiana cheese.