Are you ready for this super simple 15 minute Italian salad?!?! Cause we all need a good Italian salad in our lives! Don’t you agree?!
This Italian salad was inspired by my dairy free zuppa toscana soup that I made way back in February. Have you made the zuppa toscana soup it yet?! If not, you really need to get on that because it’s sooo good! Anyways, I served that soup to some friends one night along with a quick side salad that I threw together. Since the soup is Italian and both of my friends worked at Olive Garden I went for an Italian inspired salad with a zippy Italian salad vinaigrette. I knew it was destined to be a recipe on the blog.
This recipe is also inspired by Olive Garden’s Italian side salad that comes with pretty much every meal. You can read about how I ate there often as a kid and embarrassing stories in this post – the other thing I loved about Olive Garden as a kid was that side salad. It was crunchy and the dressing was sweet and tangy. There were tons of crunchy croutons and 2 black olives that I always had to fight my dad for, it was pure bliss. That salad was one of the only salads I would eat as a kid.
Can you believe it? Me not liking salads, but there was a time. Thankfully I grew out of that salad hating phase!
My version of that Italian salad has a little bit more sophistication to it, if I don’t say so myself. Instead of iceberg lettuce (because you all know how I feel about iceberg lettuce) I use crunchy romaine lettuce. I added some cucumber and artichoke hearts for extra flavor and texture, red onion of course, and grape tomatoes for more of a bite. And ALL of the black olives, like an entire 15 ounce can of them because 2 is never enough. I’m looking at you Olive Garden! That Italian vinaigrette is made with red wine vinegar for plenty of tang and a ton of Italian seasoning for all the flavor. Trust me, you’re going to want to put it on everything!
The two things that I didn’t end up putting on this salad was some croutons and Parmesan cheese. I had every intention to but found I didn’t really need it with all the other flavorful and crunchy things. But feel free to add some. Try my gluten free stove top croutons, if you are so inclined.
What’s great about this Italian salad is that it’s simple to put together (only 15 minutes!), it’s healthy, and makes a great side salad. OR add some leftover chicken if you want to make it into a meal.
- ¼ cup red wine vinegar
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning*
- ¼ teaspoon onion powder (if not already in Italian seasoning)
- 1 to 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 to 2 teaspoons honey (or sub maple syrup if vegan)
- 2 teaspoons dijon mustard
- salt and pepper to taste
- 2 heads romaine lettuce, chopped
- 1 15 ounce can quartered artichoke hearts
- 1 15 ounce can whole black olives
- 1 cup grape tomatoes
- ½ cucumber, sliced
- 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
- 1 to 3 pickled hot peppers (optional)
- Make the dressing: Add all ingredients to a mason jar and shake until well combined, set aside. OR whisk all ingredients in a small mixing bowl.
- Assemble the salad: Add all of the salad ingredients to a large miking bowl or serving bowl. To make it look pretty place all the lettuce in the bottom of the bowl and top with each veggie in sections.
- Serve: Just before serving toss the salad with the dressing. The salad is best when fresh but if you have leftovers it can be stored without the dressing for up to 1 day in an air tight container in the fridge.
Feel free to add leftover chicken or other protein to turn this salad into a meal.