Get a fun and exciting start to your meals with this antipasto salad!
It’s an Italian favorite chock-full of add-ins. Salami, mozzarella, olives, and pepperoncini are just the start.
Plus, this crowd-pleaser is effortless. So you can make it for potlucks, picnics, dinners, lunches, and more with minimal fuss.
What Is Antipasto Salad?
Antipasto salad is a classic Italian dish that’s all about the mix-ins. It’s jam-packed with cured meats, cheeses, marinated veggies, and crisp greens with oil and vinegar.
In Italian, “antipasto” translates to “before the meal.” Traditionally, it’s enjoyed as an appetizer or starter before the main course.
Some common ingredients are Salami, artichoke hearts, olives, tomatoes, lettuce, mozzarella, parmesan, and pepperoncini.
What goes in it can vary by region. But every antipasto has one thing in common. All the flavors, textures, and colors make it a feast for the senses!
The beauty of the antipasto salad is that it’s customizable. You can mix and match whatever you like.
For the best flavor and texture, use these ingredients:
- Iceberg – Iceberg has a nice crunch. But any crisp lettuce variety will do.
- Grape tomatoes – For a burst of sweetness and a garden-fresh flavor. You can also switch things up and use sun-dried tomatoes.
- Mozzarella – Fresh mozzarella is the best! It’s so chewy and creamy. Cut a ball into cubes or use bite-sized pearls.
- Marinated artichokes – Chop them into smaller pieces so you get a little in each bite. Also, be sure to drain the liquid before using. I prefer jarred, but you can use canned.
- Green olives – Jarred has a better flavor than canned. But use what you’ve got. If you prefer black olives, use those. Or try a medley of both.
- Salami – A classic choice! Chop it up into chunks. Other cured Italian meats like prosciutto are tasty options, too.
- Pepperoncini – They add a crunchy, tangy, vinegary, and mildly spicy flavor. For less spiciness, use banana peppers.
- Basil – Garnish the salad with fresh basil leaves to make it pop.
- Parmesan – Like most Italian dishes, this salad tastes better finished with freshly grated parmesan.
- Olive oil – Use a good quality extra-virgin olive oil for the dressing.
- Red wine vinegar – It adds brightness and acidity to the dressing. For a sweet version, use balsamic.
- Italian seasoning – A sprinkle of this seasoning will give the dressing a savory boost.
- Salt and pepper – Add a pinch to the dressing to taste.
How to Make Antipasto Salad
Quick and easy, this antipasto salad comes together in just three steps. It takes very little effort and no time at all.
Here’s how to make it:
- Make the dressing. Mix the ingredients for the dressing and set aside.
- Make the salad. In a large bowl, add all the salad ingredients. Toss it to combine.
- Drizzle the dressing and serve. Pour the dressing over the salad. Toss the salad again. Serve it immediately.
Tips and Variations
One of the many things I love about antipasto salad is it’s flexible. You can tailor it to suit your tastes.
Try any of these variations to make your tastebuds happy. Also, I threw in some tips to make it the best antipasto ever!
- Make it vegetarian-friendly. Skip the cured meat. Instead, use canned chickpeas.
- Choose other types of cheese. Asiago, provolone, burrata, and fontina are some ideas.
- Mix and match your favorite add-ins. Try different ingredients like mushrooms, prosciutto, roasted red peppers, sun-dried tomatoes, or Kalamata olives.
- Don’t dress it too soon. Keep it separate until you’re ready to serve so the lettuce stays crisp.
- Bottle the dressing in advance. The dressing will last in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. So you can make it in advance to save time later.
- Take a vinaigrette shortcut. You can make this dish even easier with a store-bought dressing like Italian vinaigrette.
- Pile on some pasta! Need to feed a large group of people? Ditch the lettuce and use pasta instead. All the add-ins create a mouthwatering pasta salad that’s sure to please a crowd.
- Wrap it up. Stuff all the ingredients into a tortilla to make a sandwich wrap. Just leave the dressing on the side and drizzle as you eat.
- Use quality ingredients. The better the quality, the better the flavor. Trust me!
How to Store
Do you have leftovers or want to meal prep? Here are the steps for both:
- To Store: Transfer leftovers to an air-tight container and refrigerate them. Enjoy them within one day.
- To Make Ahead: Add all the ingredients except for the dressing to an air-tight container. Store the salad and the dressing in two separate air-tight containers. Refrigerate them for up to 3 days.
On a side note, I don’t recommend freezing this salad.
The greens will wilt and the other ingredients won’t defrost right. Instead, it will be watery and unpalatable, which doesn’t do it justice.
The best way to enjoy it is fresh the day you make it. Just keep in mind, the longer it sits, the more soggy the lettuce gets.
What to Serve with Antipasto Salad
Antipasto salad is a fantastic first course and great as part of a larger meal. I love bringing it to potlucks, barbecues, and picnics. It’s always a big hit!
Most often, though, I serve it as part of a big Italian-style family dinner. A simple pasta, lean protein, and roasted vegetables are usually on the table.
Oh, and you can’t forget the warm bread!
But serve it with what you like to eat. For some inspiration, here are a handful of ideas:
- Italian bread like focaccia
- Crunchy breadsticks
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