Round out your favorite meal with this easy and delicious everyday Italian salad! Crisp greens, juicy tomatoes, tangy olives, and crunchy croutons make this a winner every time.

Want to really go all out? Try making homemade croutons and don’t miss this best ever homemade Italian salad dressing.

Large bowl of Italian salad with romaine, tomatoes, peppers, olives, and croutons.

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Who doesn’t love a classic Italian salad? This is the sort of deliciousness that goes with just about any Italian or Italian-inspired dinner you might crave for dinner, and is perfectly satisfying in any season.

You might have been introduced to a basic Italian salad Olive Garden-style, where it’s endlessly refillable and passed around family style (along with those irresistible breadsticks). And to be honest, that is some good stuff right there! But it’s so easy to make this yourself at home, and even better-tasting. Just think: fresh, crispy lettuce, tangy shaved Parmesan, juicy tomatoes, crunchy croutons – and the opportunity to personalize all the other add-ins to your liking.

YES. Your favorite Italian dinner just leveled up. It doesn’t hurt that Italian foods are some of the easiest and most popular to make at home, so this is the perfect thing to round out your menu.

What’s in an Italian salad?

Of course you can – and should! – customize what goes in your bowl, but for starter’s sake here’s what you’d find in a classic Italian salad.

Prep bowls filled with washed romaine lettuce, Pepperoncini peppers, red onions, tomatoes, cheese, black olives, and croutons.

Assembling the salad, of course, couldn’t be simpler – just chop all the ingredients into a size of your liking, and toss together.

One tip: be sure your romaine is washed and dried well. Some swear by a salad spinner for this, but it’s also easy to spread the rinsed romaine out across clean kitchen towels and dab lightly to dry.

What’s the best Italian salad dressing?

We love this full-on homemade Italian salad dressing, which is easy to make ahead or in a large batch and store in the fridge. But no beef if you use a bottle – Newman’s Own or Ken’s brands are tried and true in our house!

And if you want to go homemade but zero fuss, just combine three parts olive oil with one part red wine vinegar, add a pinch each of salt, pepper, and oregano or Italian seasoning, and shake or whisk really well. Bam: fastest ever homemade Italian-ish dressing.

Variations and other add-ins

Of course, like all good side salads, this is 100% customizable, so consider this the perfect time to clean out your fridge and make it your own!

  • Swap the greens. Use spring mix or any other type you like.
  • Swap the cheese. Pecorino, Ricotta salata (hint: not the same as regular ricotta!), or feta are lovely.
  • Add more veggies! Try radicchio, red cabbage, chopped cucumbers, matchstick carrots, chopped bell pepper, sun-dried tomatoes, or artichoke hearts.
  • Add herbs! A sprinkle of fresh parsley, basil, or oregano are especially nice.
  • Add protein! Try crispy chickpeas, grilled chicken, grilled steak, or tuna.
  • Add nuts. Pine nuts, walnuts, or any others you love add another layer of flavor and texture.

We tend to go light on the Pepperoncinis and swap the black olives for Kalamatas. That’s leaning a little into Greek flavors, but hey, it’s all Mediterranean, and all delicious, right? 🙂

Bowl of salad surrounded by extra veggies and salad tongs ready to serve.

Favorite Italian recipes

We love to eat a simple Italian salad alongside comfort food favorites like stuffed shells, tortellini Alfredo, or Tuscan chicken. It’s also outstanding to round out lighter fare like grilled chicken breasts or kabobs.

Don’t forget to round out your feast with some soft garlic breadsticks!

More easy side salads

If you’re searching for more side salad inspiration, here are some of our go-to recipes!

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Everyday Italian Salad

Level up your favorite meal with this easy Italian salad! Crisp greens, juicy tomatoes, tangy olives, and crunchy croutons make this a winner every time.

Ingredients

  • 1 head leafy romaine lettuce or 2 romaine hearts roughly chopped
  • 1/2 red onion thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup shaved Parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup Pepperoncini peppers whole or sliced
  • 1/2 cup black olives whole or sliced
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes
  • freshly-ground black pepper to taste
  • croutons store-bought or homemade
  • Italian salad dressing store-bought or homemade

Instructions

  • To make the salad, place all ingredients in a large salad bowl. Drizzle with dressing and toss to combine.

Notes

This is super customizable and flexible depending on what you like and have on hand! Here are some ideas for variations and other add-ins:
  • Swap the greens. Use spring mix or any other type you like.
  • Swap the cheese. Pecorino, Ricotta salata (hint: not the same as regular ricotta!), or feta are lovely.
  • Add more veggies! Try radicchio, red cabbage, chopped cucumbers, matchstick carrots, chopped bell pepper, sun-dried tomatoes, or artichoke hearts.
  • Add herbs! A sprinkle of fresh parsley, basil, or oregano are especially nice.
  • Add protein! Try crispy chickpeas, grilled chicken, grilled steak, or tuna.
  • Add nuts. Pine nuts, walnuts, or any others you love add another layer of flavor and texture.

Nutrition Estimate

Calories: 82kcal, Carbohydrates: 7g, Protein: 5g, Fat: 4g, Saturated Fat: 2g, Cholesterol: 7mg, Sodium: 317mg, Potassium: 342mg, Fiber: 3g, Sugar: 3g, Vitamin A: 3853IU, Vitamin C: 37mg, Calcium: 124mg, Iron: 1mg
Did you make this recipe?Leave a review below, then snap a quick picture and tag @nourishandfete on Instagram so I can see it!
Landscape photo of salad bowl and ingredients.