Italian Chopped Salad Recipe

A good, Italian chopped salad is a thing of beauty. It can be a complete meal all on its own, or make a wonderful side salad to a main, Italian meal.

Most Italian chopped salads have meat in them. Salumi, salami, and other processed meats. But a plant-based version is just as satisfying and you don’t get all the overly processed meats that might taste good, but really are not very good for you at all.

Clean Eating Italian Chopped Salad Recipe

This type of salad is a delicious, refreshing dish that includes a variety of fresh vegetables.

You can include many different vegetables in this salad. I give you suggestions below. However, traditional, Italian-cured meats like salami, prosciutto, and pepperoni are not added here for obvious reasons.

Whether served as a main dish or as a side salad, an Italian chopped salad is hearty, full of flavor and completely filling all on its own. It has a satisfying crunch and pairs well with many other dishes if you want to round out your meal. It’s perfect for a quick and easy lunch, dinner, or even a picnic.

What Is A Chopped Salad?

You could also refer to a chopped salad as a tossed salad. Instead of layering on the ingredients, you toss everything. And also, all ingredients get chopped.

What’s The Point Of A Chopped Salad?

Bloomberg interviewed experts on this, and what they came up with were the following two points:

  1. A chopped salad is easier to eat, making it more portable and better for lunches on the go.
  2. A chopped salad tastes better because you release much of the flavor with chopping. The smaller pieces also make it easier to get all the different ingredients into your mouth at once, giving you a better overall flavor with each bite.

I have to say, I agree wholeheartedly. I love that I get all the flavors with every bite!

What Is The History Of The Italian Chopped Salad?

The Italian Chopped Salad was created as a way to use up leftovers from antipasto platters. Most people believe that it was invented in Italian-American communities in the US, in the early 1900s. The leftovers from these platters were simply chopped into bite-sized pieces and tossed together with a simple vinaigrette dressing.

The Salad Dressing

The dressing for an Italian chopped salad is traditionally very simple. Just some oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper will do the trick. But if you want, you can use any vinaigrette you like. Most will work well here.

A Well-Balanced, Italian Chopped Salad Has A Lot Of Things Going For It

  • A fair variety of crunchy vegetables.
  • A bit of protein.
  • A nice balance of oil and vinegar.
  • A tasty dose of salt and pepper.

What Would You Eat An Italian Chopped Salad With?

  • By itself as a main meal
  • As a side salad to spaghetti or other pasta dinners
  • As a side salad to a pizza dinner
A closeup looking into a clear, plastic bowl filled with Italian Chopped Salad.

Recipe Additions

What else can you add to this salad? Here are some suggestions:

  • Roasted garlic cloves
  • Pepperoncini
  • Grated cheese such as provolone cheese, mozzarella or parmesan.
  • Sliced turkey or ham
  • Fresh herbs such as fresh parsley or fresh basil

Salad Dressing Variations

For the dressing, you can try using red wine vinegar, lemon juice, dijon mustard, salt, and black pepper for an alternative homemade Italian vinaigrette. You can also add dried herbs such as dried oregano. Make a big batch and store leftovers in jars with a lid for future salads. Nothing beats a good homemade Italian dressing! Simply whisk or shake well before each use.

Dietary Variations

Vegan – This salad is vegan already. No changes are needed.

Keto – Toss in any meat you’d like and go a little heavy on the healthy oil.

Dairy-Free – This recipe is already dairy-free. You’re good to go!

Sugar-Free – Yep, you guessed it. It’s already sugar-free! But if you use a bottled dressing, you’ll want to read the ingredients to avoid sugar.

What Is This Chopped Italian Salad Made Of?

Romaine lettuce – I love to use romaine hearts. But use whatever you have. Even regular green lettuce will work. You can also use iceberg lettuce if you prefer that.

Tomatoes – Any type will work. Either large tomatoes or smaller ones like cherry tomatoes.

Cooked chickpeas – Canned is fine with no sugar added.

Sliced black olives – Canned or jarred as long as they are packed in water, not oil.

Red onion – Chop these fine or into strips for the best texture and flavor.

Sun-dried tomatoes  – Finely chopped

Cucumber – Cut into small chunks. This can be a regular cucumber or an English cucumber.

Extra virgin olive oil – Or any light-flavored oil you prefer.

Balsamic vinegar

Salt and pepper – To taste

How To Make The Best Italian Chopped Salad

Closeup of an Italian Chopped Salad.

Combine all the chopped salad ingredients in a large bowl and toss well, then serve.

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Clean Eating Italian Chopped Salad Recipe

Italian Chopped Salad

A tasty side salad for an Italian dinner, or a plant-based main course for those reducing their meat consumption. Either way, it’s delicious and satisfying!
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Course: Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine: Italian
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 4 servings
Calories: 386kcal



  • 1 large salad bowl


  • 4 cups chopped romaine lettuce
  • 2 cups chopped tomatoes
  • 2 cups cooked chickpeas (if canned, then drain and rinse)
  • 1 cup sliced black olives
  • 1 cup chopped red onion
  • ¼ cup chopped sun dried tomatoes (finely chopped)
  • 2 cups chopped cucumber
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste


  • Combine all the chopped salad ingredients in a large bowl and toss well, then serve.
    Closeup of an Italian Chopped Salad.


Please note that the nutrition data below is a ballpark figure. Exact data is not possible.


Serving: 0.25the recipe | Calories: 386kcal | Carbohydrates: 41g | Protein: 11g | Fat: 21g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Sodium: 730mg | Potassium: 996mg | Fiber: 11g | Sugar: 15g | Vitamin A: 4495IU | Vitamin C: 21.9mg | Calcium: 141mg | Iron: 5.2mg

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