Italian Chopped Salad
Whether this Italian Chopped Salad truly has any Italian origin or not ceases to matter once you've tasted it. Imagine the best Italian deli sandwich you've ever tasted … only without the bread. Trust me, you won't even miss it.
There's a local pizza chain in the area where I live and they make a salad like this that I crave But since there's not a location very close to me, I used my best memory and a little ingenuity to come up with this recipe.
4 Important Things
- The ingredients | There are lots of recipes for salads by this name online and there's quite a range of suggested ingredients! But I have clear preferences for how it's put together. It should have salami, fresh pecorino, garbanzo beans ( canned or homecooked from dry), roasted red peppers, a sweet spicy pepper such as peppadews, tomatoes and red onion. You can make substitutes of pepperoni, mozzarella, fresh red peppers, pepperoncinis, white onion … but I can't vouch for the flavors like I can the ones I list!
- The "chop" size | Because it's a "chopped" salad, I think the size of the chop is important. For it be perfect, the dice of everything should be about ¼ inch square. It might sound picky … and you don't have to get the ruler out! … but it really does matter!
- The lettuce | I like the sturdiness of romaine to hold the weight of the other ingredients and to stand up to the vinaigrette and, but in a pinch, green leaf lettuce will work just fine. Again, though, the chop is important. Slice across the leaves, then slice in the opposite direction to create small bite-sized pieces. Remember, it's a "chopped" salad.
- The dressing | The best dressing for this is my standard homemade Dijon vinaigrette. I usually measure (and by that, I mean that I "eyeball" it!) and shake it to mix in a jar. The measurements given in the recipe card below will provide more than you need for one salad. It keeps well in the refrigerator, but if the olive oil solidifies, just let it sit out for a bit to come back to temperature.
Toss the lettuce with all the other ingredients and ½ to ¾ cups of vinaigrette. Start slow with the vinaigrette and add more only after tasting.
Italian Chopped Salad
- 1 large head of romaine lettuce cut in small bite-sized pieces
- 4 ounces salami chopped in ¼-inch dice
- 4 ounces fresh pecorino cheese (not aged) chopped in ¼-inch dice
- ½ cup cooked chickpeas See notes
- ½ cup roasted red peppers chopped in ¼-inch dice
- ¼ cup peppadew peppers chopped small
- ¼ cup red onion chopped in ¼-inch dice
- 1 medium tomato chopped in ¼-inch dice
For the Dijon Vinaigrette
- 1 cup olive oil
- ¼ cup red wine vinegar
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- ½ teaspoon granulated garlic
- Salt and pepper to taste
- After everything is diced, mix in a large bowl.
- Mix all the ingredients for the vinaigrette in a jar and shake till well combined.
- Pour about ½ cup of vinaigrette over the salad ingredients and stir to mix well. Taste, and only add more vinaigrette as needed.
- Serve immediately.
- I like to use romaine lettuce because of the way it holds up to the other ingredients and the vinaigrette, but green leaf lettuce is a good choice, too.
- You can make substitutions if you want … pepperoni instead of salami, mozzarella instead of pecorino, fresh red peppers instead of roasted, pepperoncinis instead of peppadews, etc … and it will still be delicious. It just won't be THIS salad.
- Peppadews are small red peppers that are slightly sweet and slightly spicy. Pepperoncinis are not at all slightly sweet and sometimes too spicy.
- I don't mind having some of the vinaigrette kept over in the fridge because I use it so often on most salads. However, feel free to scale the recipe down if you prefer.
- To cook dried chickpeas, soak ⅓ cup for 8-12 hours, then bring them to a low boil in a large pot. Simmer for 1-2 hours on the stove (depending on how soft you want them). A slow cooker can also be used: set on High for 4 hours, or on Low for 8-9. Another alternative is using the Instant Pot. Set it on manual for 12 minutes.