Antipasto Salad… The salad that is fit to be an any time meal. This bright and colorful salad is a great no-cook recipe that can be a wow worthy side dish, or stand alone main.
Every single bite would be tad bit different here, as this antipasto salad is loaded with salami, pepperoni, plump mozzarella balls, olives, artichokes, sweet cherry tomatoes and many more great antipasto favorites.
The mix of “meat, cheeses and vegetables” is always a winning combination. All you need is to present it in a cheeseboard fashion, and you end up with a great company first course, or an easy weeknight meal.
We’ve been hooked on antipasto dinners for a few years. We usually raid those antipasto salad bars at our local grocery store. It makes a great dinner along with fresh crusty bread and some nice glass of red.
It’s not just a salad at the Beisers’, but a very easy no cook dinner. So making a salad out of our usual favorite antipasto ingredients was just a matter of artfully presenting them over a bed of lettuce, and shaking up a tasty, zesty homemade Italian dressing to drizzle all over.
You Will Love this Antipasto Salad Recipe, Because
1. It’s gorgeous looking with bright and colorful ingredients, and can be a huge crowd puller at get togethers, potlucks, picnics and parties.
2. It can be served as a main dish, as it’s very hearty and full of protein power, or can be a drool worthy side or first course for any Italian dinner.
3. There is absolutely “No Cooking” involved for this meal. None!!
4. It’s highly customizable and versatile, meaning YOU add whatever you like in your antipasto salad, or whatever is available at any given time. You can swap cheeses, olives and meats to your preference.
5. It’s a perfect combination of meat, cheese and veggies, making it a well rounded meal.
6. If you are watching your carbs, this is the salad for you. This antipasto salad is low carb and keto-friendly.
7. It’s EASY to make (literally as easy as arranging everything in a bowl). But it tastes and looks super fancy and gourmet, like charcuterie on a bed of lettuce! You can prep it ahead of time and simply toss everything with dressing when ready to serve.
What is Antipasto, or Antipasti?
Antipasto, or Antipasti, is the traditional first course of an Italian meal. Literally, the word “antipasto” is derived from the Latin word “anti” meaning “before” and “pastus,” which means “meal.”
Thus, the antipasto course simply refers to the dish that precedes all others. It’s nothing but an appetizer course, as we say in English, or hors d’oeuvre in French.
Antipasti (plural form) can be served on individual plates, in bite-sized pieces on a plate that is passed around the table, or presented as an elegant centerpiece for grazing.
These beautifully prepared, skillfully arranged plates have cured meats, specialty cheeses and pickled vegetables like artichoke hearts, pepperoncini and different types of olives. They are often reserved for special occasions, such as family reunions, celebrations after religious ceremonies, special gatherings of friends, or romantic dinners.
A good antipasto plate offers an appealing mixture and contrasts of textures, tastes and colors.
So how about taking this antipasto concept and creating a salad on a bed of lettuce, along with a super simple homemade Italian dressing… And then, Antipasto Salad is born.
What’s in an Antipasto Salad?
Just get your favorite antipasto ingredients and load it up in bowl. Today we are using:
- Romaine lettuce – We are using romaine, but you can use any of your other favorite lettuce or salad greens on hand.
- Genoa salami – Genoa salami is great in this salad. Feel free to use any of your favorite salami. You can purchase Genoa Salami either at the deli counter, or they often have it pre-packaged with the specialty deli meats.
- Pepperoni – Buy good quality pepperoni, normally available at the deli counter or with the specialty deli meats. You can buy it in log form and slice it yourself, or buy thick pre-cut slices.
- Prosciutto – Silky and salty, it goes great along with the other cured meats.
- Mozzarella balls – They are also called mozzarella pearls. You can use plain mozzarella balls, or the marinated variety. They add creamy, soft, delicious texture to the salad.
- Provolone cheese – Cubed. This is a little hardier than the mozzarella balls.
- Cherry tomatoes – Sliced in half. Always use fresh and ripe ones for that bright sweetness in the salad.
- Artichoke hearts – Jarred and marinated. We use quartered artichoke hearts that come perfectly cut for you. Just drain and then they go straight in your salad bowl.
- Olives – We used half black olives and half green olives. You can play with any type of your favorite olives here.
- Pepperoncini – Slice up and add into the salad for a sweet and spicy combination. They are slightly sweet, but mostly tangy with a little heat.
- Sweet drop red peppers – They are our favorite sweet tiny peppers out of the antipasto bar. You can skip if not available.
- Fresh basil leaves – Optional.
- Italian dressing – Extra virgin olive oil, red wine vinegar, lemon juice, garlic powder, Italian seasoning, salt, sugar, red chili flakes.
How to Make the Best Antipasto Salad
1. Make a quick homemade Italian dressing: Make the dressing first, as it will have time for all the flavors to mingle together as you arrange the rest of the salad. Simply mix all the dressing ingredient in a mason jar, cover and shake it well, or whisk it till properly blended in a bowl.
2. Assemble Salad: Add lettuce to a large bowl as a base, then arrange the rest of the salad ingredients. Drizzle with your desired amount of dressing, and toss to combine. Serve immediately. You can prep the salad ahead of time, cover with cling wrap, and refrigerate it till ready to serve. Drizzle on the dressing right before you serve, if making it ahead of time.
Tips and Tricks for Antipasto Salad
- For lazy days: The homemade Italian dressing only takes a couple of minutes to make, but you can use a store-bought Italian Dressing if you want a shortcut.
- Customize ingredients: The antipasto salad ingredients and measurements are simply suggestions. Once you load your salad bowl with lettuce, use the antipasto ingredients in whatever ratios you prefer. Some like it less meaty, or some might like it more cheesy.
- Use other ingredients: Try different cured meats, olives, cheeses, roasted red peppers or banana peppers. We can see cucumber, chickpeas, corn, roasted veggies or rotisserie chicken going very well in this salad.
- Dress the salad right before serving
- Turn this into Antipasto Pasta Salad: Simply add your favorite cooked pasta (like rotini or penne) into the mix.
Storing Antipasto Salad
If you plan on storing leftover antipasto salad, do not toss the salad with the dressing, or else the lettuce will become soggy and wilted. Instead, store the salad and dressing in separate airtight containers. Store the salad in an airtight container for about 3 to 5 days in the refrigerator.
This antipasto salad recipe is great to prep ahead. You can prep all of the ingredients ahead of time and layer it in a bowl. Simply wrap it and store in the refrigerator until served. Add in the dressing right before serving.
Leftover marinated vegetables and cheese can be made into an Antipasto Pasta Salad using rotini, penne, or any large pasta shape.
There you go, try this Mediterranean inspired salad, with strong Italian roots. Wow your company with this charcuterie style salad, with its varied flavors and textures.
Go raid your favorite antipasto salad bars for short cuts, or buy your favorite meats and olives from your favorite deli. Make this happen tonight. Get some bread, get some wine, and you are all set for one wonderful evening.
Antipasto Salad, on our Gypsy Plate… enjoy!
Homemade Italian Dressing
- 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
- 1 lemon, juiced
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1.5 tsp Italian seasoning
- salt to taste
- pepper to taste
- sugar or honey to taste
- pinch of red chili flakes
- 1 large head Romaine lettuce, washed and cut into large chunks (about 8 cups)
- 4oz Genoa Salami, chopped
- 4oz sliced pepperoni
- 4oz prosciutto
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1 cup artichoke hearts, drained and quartered
- 1/2 cup black olives
- 1/2 cup green olives
- 2 tablespoons chopped pepperoncini
- 8oz fresh mozzarella balls
- 4oz provolone cheese, cut into bite sized cubes
- 2 Tbsp sweet drop red peppers (optional)
- a few fresh basil leaves (optional)
- Make the Italian dressing: Mix all the dressing ingredients in a mason jar, cover and shake it well, or whisk it till properly blended in a bowl. Refrigerate to allow flavors to blend till ready to use.
- Arrange the lettuce pieces in a large bowl or platter. Layer all the salad ingredient on the bed of lettuce.
- Drizzle on your desired amount of the dressing, toss gently (see note). Serve immediately.
- Store the leftover dressing in airtight container and refrigerate up to 2 weeks.
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