If you are the sort of person who believes that a cheeseboard can stand in for a full meal, then this Antipasto Salad will be to your taste. And, might I add, your taste is excellent.
Why You’ll Love This Italian Salad Recipe
- Impressive and Easily Transportable. Which means it’s perfect to take along to potlucks. Antipasto salad looks good on a serving platter and everyone loves the big, bold flavors in this dish.
- Speedy Side. This pulls together quickly! Need a little extra something to round out that pasta dinner? This antipasto salad is the perfect side for Pesto Pasta or Vegetable Lasagna!
- No-Cook Summer Dinner Worthy. When you just want to sit on the patio and enjoy an effortless meal after work, this is it. (This Italian Chopped Salad is another great option).
- Easily Customizable. Make it meatless! Add more meat! Subtract the olives! (Wait! What are you doing?! Never subtract the olives!) Antipasto salad is one of those fabulous recipes that’s super versatile and forgiving, so you pretty much can’t go wrong.
5 Star Review
“It was superb. Everyone loved it. I could eat this salad every day.”— Carol —
More About This Antipasto Salad
Ready for your new go-to summer salad? Looking for an especially elevated excuse to turn a cheeseboard into dinner? Antipasto salad is the recipe for you!
So what is the difference between antipasto and antipasto salad?
- Antipasto is the traditional first course of an Italian meal.
- It usually includes a mix of assorted cured meats like prosciutto, mortadella and salami, cheeses, and marinated vegetables like artichokes and red peppers.
- An antipasto salad is made with those classic Italian starter items piled atop crisp greens, with a simple balsamic vinaigrette that ties this whole tasty situation together.
- Essentially, the lettuce is the only difference.
This is why it is called antipasto salad, because all these common first course ingredients are mixed into one delicious salad.
Like a good charcuterie board or Italian Pasta Salad, this simple antipasto salad makes friends wherever it goes.
Just about the only way I can imagine improving the recipe is by washing it down with a glass of crisp wine.
How to Make Antipasto Salad
- Romaine + Arugula. Our cold antipasto salad recipe starts with a base of crisp chopped romaine and peppery arugula. (Arugula is the base of this yummy Burrata Salad too!)
- Prosciutto. Silky and salty, this is always the first item on my antipasto board to disappear.
- Salami. Everyone loves it!
- Olives. A little briny. A lotta salty. I struggle with commitment and like a medley of green olives and kalamata olives here, but feel free to stick with just one if you have a preference. Do not use the olives from a can; while they have their place (supreme pizza), they don’t cut it here (nor in Niçoise Salad).
- Marinated Artichoke Hearts. To lighten things up.
- Roasted Red Peppers. Colorful and sweet. Prefer a little heat? Try pepperoncini.
- Feta. Salty, creamy, and absolutely scrumptious on this salad.
- Cherry Tomatoes. Bright and juicy, they bring the salad balance.
- Antipasto Salad Dressing. Some good-quality extra virgin olive oil, Dijon, garlic, and balsamic vinegar create a light and flavorful homemade Italian dressing that brings this salad to life.
- Make the base. Add the romaine and arugula to a bowl.
- Whisk Together the Dressing. Pour half of it over the lettuce.
- Assemble. Add your goodies and a bit more of the dressing. Finish with the feta and parsley. ENJOY!
- Antipasto Salad Wraps. Roll the ingredients up into a tortilla; layer on the lettuce first, followed by the cheese, meats, veggies, and a drizzle of dressing.
- Antipasto Salad Pizza. Brush pizza dough (perhaps my Whole Wheat Pizza Dough or try them on a Naan Pizza) with olive oil, then add some freshly grated Parmesan over the top. Bake until it’s golden and crispy on the edges, then pile the antipasto salad on top; slice and serve.
- Vegetarian Antipasto Salad. You can omit the meat altogether, substitute it with Grilled Eggplant and Grilled Zucchini, swap in a can of rinsed chickpeas, or use some high-quality plant-based meat substitutes.
- More Topping Ideas. Add slices of fresh mozzarella cheese, fresh basil leaves or oregano, marinated mushrooms, pepperoni, thinly sliced red onions—there are endless variations when it comes to antipasto salad.
- To Store. Cover and store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 1 day.
Meal Prep Tip
Up to 1 day in advance, chop the lettuce, prosciutto, salami, roasted red peppers, and tomatoes. Refrigerate until you’re ready to assemble the salad. You can also whisk the dressing ingredients together up to 1 day in advance, refrigerating until you’re ready to prepare the salad.
What to Serve with Antipasto Salad
- Cocktails. If you’re going to eat this al fresco on the patio, you should pair it with a light, summery cocktail like my Italian Margarita.
- Veggie Sides. Serve veggie side dishes like Roasted Zucchini or Roasted Asparagus alongside your antipasto salad or pile them right in!
- Bread. No Knead Focaccia or Rosemary Olive Oil Bread both complement the flavors in this salad.
- Whole Grains. You can bulk up the salad further with healthy full grains. Try farro for an extra-Italian option, quinoa for even more protein, or brown rice.
Recommended Tools to Make this Recipe
- Mixing Bowls. Ideal for preparing and serving this Mediterranean antipasto salad.
- Non-Slip Cutting Board. This cutting board won’t slip away while you’re prepping the ingredients.
- Salad Spinner. The easiest way to wash and dry lettuce.
Recipe Tips and Tricks
- Use the Best Ingredients. Like traditional antipasto, the success of antipasto salad relies on its ingredients. Choose good-quality ingredients and you’ll be rewarded with a dish that is so sublime, you’ll wonder if it’s ever worth cooking again.
- Don’t Forget to Pit the Olives. The downside of buying fancypants olives is that a lot of them still have the pits inside. If you don’t have an olive pitter, you can push the pits out with a stainless steel straw. Another option is to pit them with a chef’s knife—set an olive on a cutting board, place the blade of your knife on top of the olive (sideways, like you would to remove garlic skin), then press down on the blade with the heel of your palm to smash the olive. This loosens it from the pit so you can peel the olive “meat” away; it’s not pretty, but it does the job!
- Keep the Lettuce Crisp. If you’re making this for a party, I recommend bringing the dressing in a small jar and adding it just before serving to prevent the lettuce from getting sad and soggy.
FOR THE SALAD:
- 2 hearts romaine lettuce chopped into bite-size pieces (about 7 cups)
- 4 ounces baby arugula leaves about 4 cups
- 4 ounces Genoa salami quartered lengthwise, then cut into bite-size pieces
- 4 ounces sliced prosciutto chopped into bite-size pieces
- 6 ounces marinated quartered artichoke hearts drained and patted dry
- 1/2 cup mixed olives about 3 ounces
- 12 ounces roasted red peppers drained, coarsely chopped, and patted dry
- 1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes halved
- 1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese
- Chopped fresh parsley, basil, chives, or a combination
FOR THE DRESSING:
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon minced fresh garlic
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- In an extra-large bowl, place the romaine and arugula. In a small bowl or measuring cup, make the dressing: Whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, mustard, garlic, salt, and pepper until smoothly combined (or put all of the dressing ingredients in a mason jar, seal, and shake to combine). Pour half of the dressing over the salad and toss to coat. The leaves should be lightly moistened.
- Arrange the salami, prosciutto, artichokes, olives, red peppers, and tomatoes on top of the greens. Drizzle with a bit more dressing to moisten. Sprinkle with feta and parsley. Enjoy immediately or refrigerate for 1 hour prior to serving.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Sure! For antipasto pasta salad, toss the salad with 8 ounces of cooked whole wheat pasta noodles, tri-color tortellini noodles, or cheese tortellini. Make extra dressing and drizzle it over the salad to moisten as needed.
When serving a crowd, I prefer to serve an antipasto salad misto-style instead of an antipasto salad platter. Misto means “mixed” in Italian. After topping the salad with the antipasto ingredients, give everything a big toss to combine them all together. The platter presentation is when you leave each ingredient separated in the bowl. It’s striking and shows off each element individually, but can make it difficult for guests to ensure they’re sampling a little of all the ingredients.
The word “antipasto” comes from the Latin words “anti” which means “before” and “pastus” which means “meal.” So, when we talk about antipasto, we’re literally referring to the appetizer or starter that comes before everything else. Antipasto is the singular term, while antipasti refers to the collective or plural.