Adding a side salad to your meal is a great way to increase nutrition and balance out your meal. This easy Italian salad recipe with it's Italian salad dressing recipe is one you'll want to save and make over and over because it's one of the best salad recipes. It's easy to make and the whole family will love it. The homemade salad dressing is so much better than store bought.
This salad even makes reluctant vegetable eaters happy to eat salad. The combination of spices and ingredients is perfection. But we've got variations and additional add-ins that you might love. Keep reading to learn how to make this salad gluten free or vegan.
What is Italian Salad?
Italian salad, in the United States, is usually referring to a romaine lettuce based salad with red onions, red tomatoes, black olives, parmesan cheese and an Italian salad dressing including olive oil and vinegar.
While Italians usually serve salad during or after the main course, Americans traditionally serve it before or during the main course.
Italian Salad Ingredients:
- Greens: I prefer green or red leaf lettuce. Cut to bite sized pieces.
- Vegetables: Slice red onions and pepperoncinis to add to your salad. You could also consider cucumbers or your favorite vegetables.
- Tomatoes: I prefer using cherry tomatoes, sliced in half. You could use your favorite tomatoes chopped into bite sized pieces.
- Olives: To us, black olives are a must in an Italian salad.
- Cheese: A good grated parmesan cheese can make all the difference in an Italian salad. Mix it in with everything or grate it fresh on top.
- Croutons: Make your own or buy some for convenience.
- Dressing: The best salads have a homemade dressing. Use a bottled one if you must. Ours includes garlic, Italian seasoning, granulated sugar, black pepper, sea salt, red wine vinegar and olive oil.
- Garnish: Adding an optional garnish always makes me feel like I'm really going the extra mile. This salad includes fresh parsley for garnish
How to Make Italian Salad:
Making this salad is easy! Anyone, with any kitchen skills, can make this salad. The kids can help make this, easily. Younger ones might need a little extra help but they'll love helping in the kitchen.
Step 1: Begin with the Italian salad dressing recipe. Place finely minced onion and garlic, Italian seasoning, sugar, pepper, and salt in a large mixing/salad bowl. Whisk together.
Step 2:Add vinegar and whisk to combine.
Step 3: While continuously whisking, drizzle olive oil into the mixture until all of the ingredients emulsify. It will naturally separate over time.
Step 4: Add lettuce. Top with remaining salad ingredients and toss to coat everything with the salad dressing from the bottom of the bowl.
Step 5: Add croutons and parsley if desired immediately before serving.
- Add protein: Add a cooked chicken, steak, pork, shrimp, salmon, or tofu to the top of this salad to make it a complete meal. You could also add some quinoa.
- Add beans: Toss is some roasted or canned (and rinsed) chickpeas. This also adds extra protein.
- Add extra veggies: Dice up some red or green bell peppers, cucumbers, kohlrabi or radishes. Roast some red peppers or consider adding canned artichoke hearts.
Making this gluten free is easy! Omit the croutons or make some gluten free ones with gluten free bread. The salad and dressing are naturally gluten free.
It is easy to make this a vegan salad. Omit the cheese. Check to make sure the croutons are vegan.
Generally, homemade vinaigrettes and Italian salad dressing can be kept refrigerated for up to 2 weeks. Store in an airtight container and refrigerate. Shake or whisk again before using.
CHICKEN IN WINE SAUCE
THE BEST SALMON
- 1 tablespoon red onion - finely minced
- 1 clove garlic - finely minced
- ½ teaspoon Italian seasoning
- 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
- ½ teaspoon black pepper - coarse
- sea salt - to taste
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar - balsamic or white wine vinegar also work
- 3-4 tablespoons olive oil
- ½ red onion - thinly sliced
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes - halved
- ½ cup pepperoncinis - sliced
- 1 cup black olives
- ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
- 1 head green or red leaf lettuce
- croutons - as needed
- fresh parsley for garnish
- Place finely minced onion and garlic, Italian seasoning, sugar, pepper, and salt in a large mixing/salad bowl. Whisk together.
- Add vinegar and whisk to combine.
- While continuously whisking, drizzle olive oil into the mixture until all of the ingredients emulsify.
- Add lettuce. Top with remaining salad ingredients and toss to coat everything with the salad dressing from the bottom of the bowl.
- Add croutons and parsley if desired immediately before serving.