This Italian salad with a homemade, perfectly balanced Italian dressing is the tastiest, freshest side to accompany any main dish! 

an italian salad loaded with red onions, parmesan cheese, cherry tomatoes, and olives sitting in a bowl

What makes Italian Salad so good?

This salad is what *all* salads should be: really delicious, loaded with colors and flavors, fresh, and simple. The lettuce, tomatoes, olives, pepperoncini peppers, and red onion pair so beautifully together, and the shaved parmesan cheese (if you tolerate dairy) really takes it all over the edge! 

Serve it as a side salad alongside your favorite pizza or pasta dish or as a meal salad with grilled chicken or shrimp on top! 

Italian Salad Ingredients:

The ingredients for both the salad and the homemade dressing (which is a must in our book!) are so simple. Here’s what you’ll need:

the ingredients for an italian salad in different sized bowls and plates on a marble surface

For the Dressing

  • Red Wine Vinegar – to start, you’ll need a ¼ cup of red wine vinegar.
  • Extra-Virgin Olive Oil – you’ll also need a ¼ cup of extra-virgin olive oil.
  • Lemon Juice – to add some acidity, you’ll need 1 tablespoon of lemon juice (about ½ a lemon’s-worth of juice).
  • Honey – while this ingredient is totally optional, 2 teaspoons of honey adds a hint of sweetness that is *so* yummy.
  • Spices + Seasonings – as for spices and seasonings, you’ll need 1 tablespoon of Italian seasoning, 1 teaspoon of garlic powder, 1 teaspoon of fine sea salt, 1 teaspoon of cracked black pepper, and (optionally, but for a kick of spice) a pinch of red pepper flakes.

For the Salad

  • Romaine Lettuce – the base of the salad itself is romaine lettuce! You’ll need 6 cups of chopped romaine here.
  • Cherry Tomatoes – you’ll also need 1 cup of halved cherry tomatoes.
  • Kalamata Olives – a ½ cup of pitted and halved kalamata olives add a really delicious brininess to the salad.
  • Pepperoncini Peppers – you’ll also need a ½ cup of sliced pepperoncini peppers.
  • Red Onion – a ¼ of a thinly sliced red onion adds the perfect punch of flavor + a really nice crunch!
  • Shaved Parmesan – we use a ½ cup of shaved parmesan here, but feel free to omit this if you’re dairy-free!
  • Cracked Black Pepper – for an added depth of flavor, garnish with cracked black pepper!

How to make this Italian Salad?

The beauty of salads is that they are EASY to pull together! Here’s what you’ll need to do:

  1. Make the dressing – start by adding the dressing ingredients to a jar or bowl and either shake (if your jar has a tight fitting lid) or whisk to combine.
  2. Combine the veggies – combine the chopped romaine, cherry tomatoes, kalamata olives, pepperoncini peppers, red onion, and shaved parmesan.
  3. Toss with dressing – pour the dressing over the assembled salad and toss to combine!
  4. Serve + enjoy.
an italian salad loaded with red onions, parmesan cheese, cherry tomatoes, and olives sitting in a bowl

Is there an Italian Salad dressing that goes best with this recipe?

The dressing recipe that we wrote to go along with this salad is, in our opinion, the very best accompaniment to this Italian salad! It’s a perfectly balanced blend of red wine vinegar, EVOO, lemon juice, honey, and spices, and it is *so* SO good. 

If you don’t have time to make your own dressing, though, don’t worry! Use your favorite store-bought Italian dressing if that feels more doable. 

What to serve with an Italian chopped salad?

This Italian salad is so yummy as a veggie side next to your favorite Italian meal (think: a pasta bake, spaghetti, lasagna, or your favorite cheesy pizza), but if you’re not up for a big night of Italian cooking, this salad is also really delicious next to your favorite grilled protein (think: grilled chicken, shrimp, steak, or fish). 

If you’d like to make this salad the star of the show, feel free to throw some protein on top of it (sliced grilled chicken would be delicious) and enjoy it that way!   

an italian salad loaded with red onions, parmesan cheese, cherry tomatoes, and olives sitting on a small bowl with a fork sticking out of it

Can you store this Italian salad recipe?

Sure! Here’s the deal, though: dressed salads get soggy really easily. For this reason, it’s best to store the salad and the dressing separately. 

Does this Italian Salad make enough for a large group?

This salad makes about 4 generous servings, so if you need more than that, be sure to double or even triple the recipe!

Italian Salad

5 from 1 vote
By Amber Goulden
Prep: 10 minutes
Total: 10 minutes
Servings: 4 servings
This simple Italian Salad is the perfect side dish with a tangy dressing all the best toppings!


For the Dressing:

  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice about 1/2 lemon
  • 2 teaspoons honey optional
  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon cracked black pepper
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes optional

For the Salad:

  • 6 cups chopped romaine lettuce
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes halved
  • 1/2 cup kalamata olives pitted and halved
  • 1/2 cup peperoncini peppers
  • 1/4 red onion thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup shaved parmesan
  • Cracked black pepper for garnish


  • For the dressing: add all ingredients to a small bowl or mason jar with lid and whisk or shake to combine. 
  • Add the lettuce, tomatoes, olives, pepperoncini, red onion, and shaved parmesan to a large bowl, then pour the dressing over top and toss to combine. Garnish with cracked black pepper and serve.


Calories: 263kcal | Carbohydrates: 20.6g | Protein: 7.1g | Fat: 19.5g | Saturated Fat: 4.3g | Cholesterol: 7.2mg | Sodium: 887.9mg | Fiber: 7.2g | Sugar: 5.6g

Additional Info

Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Italian
Servings: 4 servings
Calories: 263
Keyword: italian salad, side salad

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Brandi Schilhab

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