Our Italian salad is fresh, crunchy, tasty, and easy to make. Serve it as a starter, side dish, or light lunch with a slice of bread or warm homemade focaccia.
Customize the salad by choosing your favorite add-ins, and season it with our homemade Italian dressing to add a bright and tangy taste. Let's see how!
Check out our best vegan salad recipe collection!
Our Italian salad is a versatile recipe you can make all year round to serve as a starter or as a side dish with most mains.
We make this recipe at least twice a week to boost the intake of fresh raw greens in our diet, and also make it because it tastes delicious, and we often eat it for lunch with a thick slice of sourdough bread.
Use our Italian salad recipe as a guideline, customizing it based on your tastes and preferences.
Here we will show you how to make a big one, with plenty of add-ins. Of course, you don't have to use all the ingredients, although you can if you want to make the best biggest Italian salad ever.
To season it, you can use a simple Italian vinaigrette made with olive oil, salt, and vinegar, or you can make our delicious homemade Italian dressing.
Either way, we are sure you are going to love this recipe. It's tasty, crunchy, fresh, and nutritious!
You can use romaine lettuce or replace it with other non-bitter green lettuce varieties such as iceberg lettuce, Batavia lettuce, little gems lettuce, butter lettuce, and oak leaf lettuce, and frisée or curly endive.
Radicchio is the purple-colored lettuce with a slightly bitter taste. It's a common ingredient in Italian salads; however, if you are not a fan of bitter flavors, you can keep it out.
Arugula is another popular green you can add to your Italian salad. If you don't like its slightly bitter and spicy taste, you can replace it with Lamb's lettuce, purslane, or watercress.
Celery adds a fresh, crunchy, slightly sweet flavor to the salad, and it's a staple in most Italian salad recipes.
We grate the carrot with the large holes of a box grater. It adds crunch, color, and a sweet taste.
Thinly sliced red onion adds a tangy and mildly sweet flavor that lifts all the other ingredients. For a milder flavor, use green or spring onions.
Pick your favorite tomatoes, as long as they are not overripe. We like to use Roma tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, grape tomatoes, vine tomatoes, and when we can find it, fresh San Marzano tomatoes.
Pick from homemade croutons, black olives, shaved parmesan cheese (for non-vegans), pepperoncini, sundried tomatoes, and mixed seeds or pumpkin seeds.
Homemade Italian Dressing
We make our Italian salad dressing with extra virgin olive oil, white wine or red wine vinegar, lemon juice, dried oregano, dried basil, garlic powder (or one clove of crushed garlic), pepper, salt, and optionally maple syrup.
Make the dressing
To a small mason jar, add the extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, vinegar, dried oregano, dried basil, garlic powder (or a peeled and crushed garlic clove), salt, pepper, and maple syrup.
Close the lid tight and shake the jar to emulsify the ingredients.
Mix the salad
Add chopped Romaine lettuce, chopped radicchio, arugula, halved cherry tomatoes, finely sliced red onion, grated carrots, and chopped celery to a large bowl.
Next, add your add-ins. We use black olives, peperoncini (jalapeños work too), homemade croutons, pumpkin seeds, and chopped sun-dried tomatoes.
Drizzle with the dressing, toss, and you are ready to serve it.
Serve this big Italian salad as an appetizer with a slice of our homemade focaccia.
Alternatively, you can serve it as a side dish with many of our plant-based dinners. For example, try serving it with protein, pasta, or risotto:
- Plant-based protein: for example vegan egg salad made with tofu cubes, tofu with mushrooms, or charred marinated tofu.
- Pasta: such as vegan meatballs on spaghetti in marinara sauce, the easiest pasta aglio e olio or our creamy mushroom pasta.
- Risotto: it's delicious as a side with tomato risotto, easy shredded zucchini risotto, or asparagus risotto.
Want more dinner ideas? Check out our best 65 Italian vegan recipes with plenty of pasta, pizza, and protein-rich dinners.
Simple side salad
If you want a lighter and simpler salad, try removing all the add-ins. This way, you'll get a simple side salad that is still crunchy, delicious, and full of veggies but a lot lighter, with fewer calories.
Also, instead of the Italian dressing, season this simpler salad with extra virgin olive oil, vinegar, and a pinch of salt. This is what Italians actually eat as a side salad.
Italian salad with Shaved Parmesan
For omnivores and flexitarians, adding shaved parmesan cheese is a great way to make this Italian chopped salad even tastier.
To shave a block of parmesan, we recommend using a vegetable peeler. Then, add the shaved cheese on top just before serving the salad.
Add some protein
There are a lot of recipes online that add chicken, salmon, and salami to Italian salad to increase its protein content.
However, we recommend using plant-based protein sources instead to keep the salad light and healthy. Try our pan-fried tofu cubes, air fryer tofu, roasted chickpeas, air-fried chickpeas, or white beans.
Make Ahead Tip
To make this recipe ahead of time, you can mix all the ingredients in a large bowl without adding the dressing.
This way, the salad will stay crunchy for about 12 hours in the fridge. Then, before serving it, add the Italian dressing and eat it right away.
The dressing contains vinegar and lemon juices, which makes the salad leaves soft and less crunchy. That's why you want to add it at the last moment.
This Italian salad is best eaten soon after you add the dressing. Leftovers keep in the fridge for about 24 hours, but the salad will lose its crunch after about 2 hours.
Don't add the dressing to store the salad for longer.
More Salad Recipes
If you love fresh and vibrant salads, check out these refreshing salad recipes:
- Rice salad inspired by Italian cooking tradition
- Eggplant salad with tender cubes of eggplant
- Chickpea salad with fresh veggies
- Couscous with aromatic pan-fried vegetables
- Quinoa chickpea salad with healthy plant-based protein
- Fennel and orange salad with pomegranate seeds
- Raw zucchini salad with homemade marinade and pine nuts
Or take your pick from our 25 best vegan salad recipes, including grain bowls and raw salads.
For many more side dishes ideas, check out our sides category page.
- 1 large head romaine lettuce chopped
- 2 cups iceberg lettuce chopped
- 2 cups radicchio chopped
- 2 cups arugula
- 1 carrot grated
- 1 stalk celery chopped
- 1 small red onion sliced finely
- 10 cherry tomatoes halved
ADD-INS (pick one or more)
- 1 cup homemade croutons
- ½ cup black olives pitted
- ⅓ cup pepperoncini chopped
- ⅓ cup sun dried tomatoes chopped
- ⅓ cup parmesan shaved
- 1 tablespoon pumpkin seeds
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons vinegar any
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- ½ teaspoon dried basil
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
MAKE THE DRESSING
- To a small mason jar, add the extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, vinegar, dried oregano, dried basil, garlic powder (or a peeled and crushed garlic clove), salt, pepper, and maple syrup.Close the lid tight and shake the jar to emulsify the ingredients.
MIX THE SALAD
- Add chopped Romaine lettuce, chopped radicchio, arugula, halved cherry tomatoes, finely sliced red onion, grated carrots, and chopped celery to a large bowl.Next, add your add-ins. We use black olives, peperoncini (jalapeños work too), homemade croutons, pumpkin seeds, and chopped sun-dried tomatoes.
- Drizzle with the dressing, toss, and you are ready to serve it.
- For omnivores and flexitarians, adding shaved parmesan cheese is a great way to make this Italian chopped salad even tastier.To shave a block of parmesan, we recommend using a vegetable peeler. Then, add the shaved cheese on top just before serving the salad.
If you liked this Italian salad, you might also enjoy: