This Italian salad is a blend of fresh greens, cucumber, cherry tomatoes, olives, cheese and croutons, all tossed together in a homemade dressing. A colorful and easy salad that is quick to make and always gets rave reviews from family and friends!
When pizza, pasta or another Italian style delicacy is on the dinner menu, I always serve an Italian salad on the side. You just can’t go wrong with fresh veggies, crunchy croutons and parmesan in a creamy dressing!
How do you make Italian salad?
Start by preparing the dressing which is a blend of olive oil, vinegar, Italian dressing mix, herbs, spices and a bit of mayonnaise. Whisk everything together until the dressing is smooth and creamy. Place romaine lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, red onions, olives, parmesan cheese, pepperoncinis and croutons in a bowl. Drizzle the dressing over the salad then toss to combine. Serve immediately and enjoy!
Tips for the perfect salad
- I often buy a bag of pre-washed and pre-chopped lettuce to save some time.
- The dressing will stay fresh in the refrigerator for up to a week in a jar or airtight container.
- This salad is best when served immediately, as the lettuce will soften as it sits in the dressing.
- You can chop the veggies up to 8 hours before you plan to serve the salad.
- I use a mandoline to slice my red onions as thin as possible.
- Any type of cucumber will work here – I typically use an English cucumber which doesn’t need to be peeled or seeded.
- You can buy shaved parmesan in tubs at the grocery store, typically in the deli area. Or grab a block of cheese and a vegetable peeler and make your own shavings!
- In a hurry? You can use your favorite store bought Italian dressing instead of making your own.
Italian salad flavor variations
This salad is delicious as-is, but you can absolutely add other ingredients to make the flavors your own.
- Lettuce: Swap out the romaine for spinach, a mixed greens blend, butter lettuce or iceberg lettuce. Add some shredded radicchio for a bit of extra color and flavor.
- Protein: Turn this Italian salad into a main course by adding diced cooked chicken, canned chickpeas or diced salami.
- Vegetables: Feel free to add extra veggies such as roasted red peppers, marinated artichoke hearts, shaved fennel, mushrooms, grilled zucchini or shredded carrots.
- Cheese: Instead of parmesan, you can also use fresh mozzarella balls or cubes of provolone cheese.
- Add-Ins: Add extra flavor with sun dried tomatoes or pine nuts. Or stir in some cooked penne or rotini to turn it into a pasta salad!
Once you try my zesty and heart Italian salad, you’ll find yourself making it every week; it’s just that good!
More salad recipes you’ll enjoy
Italian Salad video
For the salad
- 6 cups romaine lettuce coarsely chopped
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes halved
- 3/4 cup cucumber quartered and sliced
- 1/4 cup red onion thinly sliced
- 1/3 cup pepperoncini peppers whole
- 1/2 cup black olives sliced
- 3/4 cup croutons
- 1/4 cup parmesan cheese shaved
For the dressing
- 1 packet Italian dressing mix
- 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/3 cup white wine vinegar
- 1/4 cup water
- 1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
For the salad
- Place the lettuce, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, red onion, pepperoncini, olives, croutons and parmesan in a large bowl.
For the dressing
- Place all of the ingredients in a medium bowl. Whisk until smooth.
- Pour approximately 2/3 cup of dressing over the salad. Toss until well combined, then serve immediately.