If you asked me about the heartiest, dinner worthy salad that I make, my answer would be Italian Salad. This Italian Salad recipe is lighter than a sandwich, with beans for heft rather than bread, but it's equally satisfying.
I hadn't made it, or even thought of it, for ages and then I saw this post from Heidi of FoodieCrush and immediately wrote a grocery list.
I made a several tweaks to her recipe, adding kalamata olives, using cannellini beans instead of chickpeas, and making the dressing slightly more astringent because I love a vinegary bite. This salad is amenable to most any variety of olive, bean, cured meat or cheese that you love, so make it your own!
- Add a zesty edge with sliced pepperoncini, Giardiniera, or marinated artichoke hearts.
- Toss in a handful of halved cherry tomatoes (or grape tomatoes), torn radicchio, or thinly sliced sweet red pepper or zucchini for added flavor depth.
- Swap in coarsely grated parmesan cheese or chunks of fresh mozzarella for the provolone.
- Add in buttery black olives or tangy green olives in place of or in addition to kalamata olives.
- Replace salami with pepperoni or other thinly sliced, cured meat. (Or use a combination of two or three.)
Serve this as a meal on its own or as a hearty side salad. And definitely note the Italian Salad Dressing (Italian vinaigrette) recipe - it's a go to for me for all kinds of green and pasta salads - especially my favorite Italian Pasta Salad. Just the right amount of smooth spice and vinegar kick!
More Must-Try Salad Recipes
- Strawberry Spinach Salad (So easy to make and unbelievably good!)
- Spinach Salad (This recipe is a family heirloom that's better than jewelry!)
- Nicoise Salad (A simple and delicious French bistro classic!)
- Greek Salad (We eat this on repeat!)
- Greek Farro Salad (A hearty version of the classic that's great for picnics.)
- Caesar Salad (I worked for years to perfect this one. Please try it!)
How to Make Italian Salad
Step 1: Make Italian Salad Dressing: whisk vinegar, mustard, garlic, shallot and Italian seasoning together in a medium bowl. Add beans to and set aside to marinate for 10 minutes.
Step 2: To a large salad bowl add lettuce, provolone cheese, salami, sun dried tomatoes and beans with dressing; toss to combine and serve.
Italian Salad Recipe Video
For the Italian Salad Dressing:
- 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
- 1 small clove garlic minced
- 1 teaspoon minced shallot or red onion
- ½ teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the Italian Salad:
- 15 ½ ounce can cannellini beans drained (or 1 ½ cups home cooked)
- 1 head romaine lettuce chopped
- 4 ounces provolone cheese diced small
- 4 ounces salami sliced into thin ribbons
- 6 oil packed sun dried tomatoes coarsely chopped
- 12 kalamata olives pitted and coarsely chopped
To make the Italian dressing:
- In a medium bowl, whisk together vinegar, mustard, garlic, shallot and Italian seasoning. Slowly drizzle in olive oil, whisking constantly. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
For the salad:
- Add cannellini beans to dressing and gently stir to combine. Let stand 10 minutes.
- Place chopped romaine in a large salad bowl. Top with cheese, salami, sun dried tomatoes, olives and beans with dressing. Gently toss to combine ingredients and coat with dressing; serve.
- Even though it adds 10 minutes, it worth it to give the beans time to marinate in dressing before tossing with the rest of the ingredients. Gives them so much flavor!
- Don't hesitate to swap in some of your favorite meats, cheeses, and/or beans in this recipe. Or add homemade croutons to make it heartier and more like a sandwich! Feel free to make it your own!