Want to replicate the famous Olive Garden salad? You’ve come to the right place. This copycat recipe is the real deal!
A visit to Olive Garden means enjoying an unlimited supply of green salad. Fresh and flavorful, it’s definitely something I look forward to whenever I dine there.
A mix of lettuce, onion, olives, tomatoes, pepperoncini, and croutons is tossed with a rich Italian dressing. It’s such a vibrant color combination!
The ingredients also offer complementing flavors and varying levels of crunch.
With this easy copycat recipe, you can enjoy the winning salad in the comfort of your own home.
Olive Garden Salad
Dining at Olive Garden is always fun. From its addictive breadsticks to heartwarming soups, it knows a thing or two about comfort food.
But out of all the fantastic food items they offer, it’s their garden salad I crave again and again.
With its marvelous flavor and texture combinations, can you blame me? One bite gives you crunchy and soft and salty, tangy, with a bit of heat.
The creamy dressing ties all the ingredients together beautifully, creating one mind-blowing culinary experience.
What is Olive Garden Salad Made Of?
- Iceberg Lettuce Garden Salad Mix – The base of the salad. A bag of lettuce mix contains chopped lettuce, red cabbage, and carrots. It’s a crisp and colorful combination.
- Red Onion – For a touch of sharp, spicy flavor.
- Black Olives – It has large whole olives, rinsed, drained, and pitted.
- Pepperoncini Peppers – The combination of spicy, sweet, and tangy is perfection.
- Roma Tomatoes – Slice them in wedges for a pretty presentation.
- Croutons – Add them for crunch.
- Salad Dressing – Use Olive Garden signature dressing Or Italian dressing.
- Parmesan Cheese – Add it to taste. Use freshly grated parmesan for a garnish. A block of cheese is cheaper than pre-shredded, and it doesn’t contain anti-caking agents.
- Ground Black Pepper – Add it to taste.
How to Make Olive Garden Salad
Once you see how easy it is to make this salad at home, it’ll be a new dinner staple. Follow these easy steps to prepare it.
- Chop the lettuce. If you’re not using a salad mix, slice the onion, pepperoncini, and tomatoes. Be sure all the veggies are dry. If they need to be rinsed, pat them dry with paper towels.
- Prepare the dressing. Store-bought is fine, but you can also make your own garden salad dressing.
- Toss the ingredients. Place the lettuce, onion, olives, pepperoncini, tomatoes, and croutons in a large bowl. Give them a quick toss.
- Drizzle the dressing on top. Toss it well until the mix-ins are completely coated. Sprinkle freshly-grated parmesan cheese and ground black pepper on top and serve. Yum!
What Is Iceberg Lettuce?
Iceberg lettuce or crisphead lettuce is a cabbage-looking bulb made up of crisp and crunchy, pale green leaves.
Its crisp nature and mildly sweet flavor make it an ideal salad component. Its firmness and large surface area make it excellent for salad wraps, too.
It’s not the most nutritious among other lettuces and greens. But iceberg lettuce is still loaded with Vitamins A and K, as well as folate.
Tips for Making The Best Salad
- Fresh is best. I like it best when the greens and veggies are still super crisp and juicy, not sad and wilted. Don’t make the salad ahead of time. Prepare the components beforehand and toss them together right before the meal.
- Beware of onion overload! Red onions have a very strong, pungent flavor. It’s best to slice them thinly so they won’t overpower the salad. A mandoline easily does the trick. An alternative would be to soak them in ice water to reduce their sharpness.
- Perfect your pepperocini. You can use either raw or pickled pepperoncini for this salad. You can soften raw pepperoncini by marinating them in honey, vinegar, salt, and pepper.
- Master the salad mix. I like to use a bag of iceberg lettuce mix for convenience. But if whole lettuce and carrots are what you have, that’s okay, too! Just chop and shred them yourself. You can even mix in some Romaine and escarole for variety.
- The drier ingredients, the better. Be sure the salad ingredients are dry before tossing them together. Otherwise, the moisture will make the dressing runny.
- Power it up with protein. Top it with protein to transform it from a side dish to the main entree. I’m talking grilled chicken, shrimp, or even steak.
- Let other veggies shine. Mix in whatever veggies you have on hand. Roasted red peppers, cucumber slices, corn kernels, you name it!
- Bulk it up. Add in some beans for substance. If you want to make your salad extra filling, half a cup of canned chickpeas or white beans will get the job done.
- Get fruity with it. Fresh fruits and berries add color and flavor. I’m talking watermelon, cantaloupe, all kinds of berries, and more.
- Add cheese, cheese, and more cheese! It doesn’t have to be solely parmesan. How about some blue cheese crumbles, mini mozzarella balls, or cubes of cheddar?
How to Make Homemade Dressing
Feel free to use store-bought dressing for this salad. Either the Olive Garden Signature dressing or any Italian dressing works.
However, if you want to control the taste and consistency of your dressing, make it yourself. It requires a handful of ingredients, but if you look closely, they’re all common pantry staples.
Also, it couldn’t be easier to make. Just whisk all the ingredients in a bowl, and it’s ready to go.
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