Italian Chopped Salad
on Oct 13, 2022
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Endlessly customizable, this Italian chopped salad recipe has romaine, radicchio, chickpeas, sun-dried tomatoes, pepperoncini and so much more. Add protein for carnivores or keep it vegetarian. Enjoy it on its own as an entrée salad or pair it with a main dish. Even though this salad has lots of components, it is just as versatile as a basic arugula salad with lemon vinaigrette.
Table of Contents
When it comes to salads, it doesn’t get much better than one that’s chopped. The range of flavor and textures all packed into a bowl (or piled high on a plate) is just so irresistible that you keep going back for more.
Beverly Hills restaurant La Scala is credited for inventing this style of salad back in the 1960s. Chopping everything into small, uniform pieces makes it much easier and less messy to eat. That original version involves romaine, iceberg, salami, mozzarella and chickpeas. My recipe takes inspiration from it, but then swaps some ingredients and adds others. This is the best thing about salads like this one, you can customize them however you want while still respecting the original.
What Makes A Good Chopped Salad
Start with fresh ingredients. You need to make sure that your romaine lettuce and radicchio are crisp and fresh. There’s no room for wilted or limp leaves. Together they are your salad base that you layer in the rest of the ingredients.
Embrace variety. Each forkful of a chopped salad should be different than the next. That’s what really keeps you devouring it. A bite of tomato, one with a little cheese and another with spicy pepperoncini all create that irresistible quality.
Go off script. Make the vinaigrette recipe as written, but you can be more spontaneous when it comes to the salad part. Chopped salads are a wonderful way to use up random leftovers like roasted vegetables or even pasta.
This is what you need for the salad:
- Red onions
- Sun-dried tomatoes
And for the vinaigrette:
- Dried oregano
- Red pepper flakes
- Whole grain mustard
- Red wine vinegar
- Fresh lemon juice
- Olive oil
- Salt & pepper
Chopped salads are snowflakes; no two are ever quite the same. With certain ingredients you have options, depending on your taste and what you have in your kitchen.
- Cheese: I love pungent gorgonzola, but if you want something more mild, try torn fresh mozzarella, cubed provolone or shaved Parmesan cheese.
- Tomatoes: Besides sun-dried or jarred roasted tomatoes, you can use halved grape or cherry tomatoes. I also like to include my own slow-roasted tomatoes.
- Olives: You can use Kalamata olives or even green olives such as Castelvetrano or Cerignola. They should be pitted, and if they aren’t sliced, you can roughly chop them.
Besides making swaps to the recipe, you can also include some additions:
- Hard-boiled eggs: Give each person a whole egg on the side or chop a few and throw them right into the salad bowl.
- Cucumbers: Dice an English cucumber because it has less seeds and better flavor than other varieties.
- Avocados: Dice a ripe avocado and stir it in.
- Salami is a classic chopped salad ingredient. Cut this cured meat into small cubes or thin strips. If you are feeding a mix of vegetarians and carnivores, just serve it on the side and people can add it in.
- Protein: Chicken (roasted, grilled or rotisserie) as well as steak, salmon or shrimp would be great if you really want to turn this into an entrée salad.
- Croutons: Crunchy and golden, make a batch of homemade croutons. If you are planning to have leftovers, only add them when you’re ready to eat the salad. The croutons will get soggy if they are mixed in the salad and sit in the chill of the fridge.
- Nuts or seeds: Try toasted walnuts, pistachios, sunflower seeds or pepitas for gluten-free crunch.
How To Make An Italian Chopped Salad
1. Assemble the salad ingredients. Pull out a large bowl for this. You should have plenty of room for the romaine, radicchio, chickpeas, onions, sun-dried tomatoes, pepperoncini, olives, gorgonzola and parsley.
2. Stir together the salad. Because there are so many ingredients, I like to do this before I add the Italian dressing. Then I know each component is well distributed throughout the lettuce.
3. Make the vinaigrette. Whisk the garlic, oregano, red pepper flakes, salt, pepper, honey, mustard, vinegar, lemon juice and olive oil in a small bowl.
4. Toss the salad in the vinaigrette. Don’t just dump all of it in at once. Start with a little, so the salad is lightly dressed. Then you can serve the extra on the side, so everyone can add more if they want.
Since this has Italian flavors, pasta is an obvious choice to serve with it:
Cherry Tomato Eggplant Pasta
Sheet Pan Gnocchi and Roasted Vegetables
Sun Dried Tomato Pasta
Rigatoni and Tomato Sauce
Lemon Pepper Spaghetti
Roasted Cauliflower Spinach Pesto Pasta
This recipe serves 4-6 people. You absolutely can make it for meal prep if you’re not planning to feed a crowd. So the salad doesn’t get soggy, only add dressing to the amount you are planning to eat at one time.
The salad can be kept in the refrigerator in an airtight container up to 3 days. Store the vinaigrette separately in a jar.
More Salad Recipes
Did you make this chopped salad? Please leave a rating and comment below. Thanks!
Italian Chopped Salad
- For salad
- 2 hearts romaine chopped
- 1 small head radicchio chopped
- 1-15 ounce can chickpeas drained and rinsed
- 1/2 small red onion thinly sliced
- 3/4 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes from a jar oil drained
- 5 pepperoncini thinly sliced
- 1/3 cup sliced pitted black olives
- 1/3 cup crumbled gorgonzola cheese
- 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
- For dressing
- 1 garlic clove minced
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- 1 pinch red pepper flakes
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 2 teaspoon whole grain mustard
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- To make the salad, combine the romaine, radicchio, chickpeas, onions, sun-dried tomatoes, pepperoncini, olives, gorgonzola and parsley in a large bowl.
- Stir the salad ingredients together.
- For the vinaigrette, in a small bowl whisk together the garlic, oregano, red pepper flakes, salt, pepper, honey, mustard, vinegar, lemon juice and olive oil.
- Drizzle the vinaigrette into the salad, tossing to combine.
- Cheese: torn fresh mozzarella, cubed provolone, shaved parmesan
- Tomatoes: halved cherry or grape tomatoes
- Olives: Kalamata, Castelvetrano or Cerignola
- Hard-boiled eggs
- Protein: grilled, roasted or rotisserie chicken, steak, salmon, shrimp
- Homemade croutons
- Nuts or seeds (walnuts, pistachios, sunflower seeds, pepitas)
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.
Originally published October 30, 2017. Updated: October 13, 2022.