In 20 minutes you can have this Italian Chopped Salad with all the goodness of an antipasto platter ready to serve. Loaded with salami, pepperoni, cheeses, olives, pepperoncinis, fresh veggies, and our favorite bottled Italian dressing, this restaurant-style salad is perfect for serving your family or a crowd any time of year.
Every year at Christmas my husband’s side of the family has a progressive dinner. We split up the courses of a meal, and each family serves one course. Then we pack up and move to the next house for the next course. One year my sister-in-law served us this for the salad course. Oh. My. It has been a family favorite ever since.
Think of it like a restaurant-style antipasto salad. This one has been modeled after Buca di Beppo’s. It is so good that it has been served at graduation celebrations, big Sunday Dinners, birthday parties, and holiday feasts. Chopping up enough for 25 or 50 doesn’t take much longer, which makes it a dream to serve a crowd.
Iceberg lettuce: In this case using a head of lettuce and cutting it yourself is key. Bagged salad won’t come chopped in small enough pieces, and in a chopped salad similar-sized pieces are key.
Pepperoni: If using pizza-sized or larger, cut to size. Mini ones are already the perfect size.
Salami: Thinly-sliced dry salami is my preference.
Provolone: Creamy and mild. Pre-sliced from the deli or in the package works great.
Feta: Salty, creamy, and full of flavor. Athenos and President are my favorite brands.
Tomatoes: Romas are perfect, but you can substitute with cherry tomatoes if desired.
Red onion: Slightly milder flavor than regular onions.
Cucumber: English cucumbers are best, but if you substitute with regular cucumbers be sure to peel them first.
Black and green olives: Fruity bursts of salty flavor.
Pepperoncinis: These provide a vinegary bite with a touch of heat. Cuts through the richness of the meat and cheese.
Dried oregano: Rub between your fingers to release the oils.
Bernstein's Restaurant Recipe Italian or Newman’s Own Family Recipe Italian: Both of these dressings are great on this salad. (This is not sponsored in any way. We just really do use these dressings.)
This salad can be broken down into three parts.
First, chop the lettuce, pepperoni, salami, provolone, tomatoes, red onion, and cucumbers into approximately the same size pieces. Second, add in the feta and olives. Rub the dried oregano between your fingertips then sprinkle over the top and mix everything together. Finally, toss with the dressing.
Honestly, so much reward for so little work. Seems too good to be true, but it's not.
- Add in blue cheese, little mozzarella pearls, or top with a grating of parmesan.
- For a bit more substance add chickpeas or navy beans.
- If you want to make your own dressing, use the one from this Greek Quinoa Salad post. It is delicious.
- Use romaine lettuce or a mix of the two.
👨👩👧👦 For a Crowd
This is the BEST salad for serving to a crowd. It feels special but doesn’t require hours of work. If you want to prep ahead be sure to read my tips in the Q&A section below.
For serving a very large crowd it will take longer, but it isn’t more difficult. The most important part is in the prep.
First, decide how many of the large-size recipes you need (1 large recipe serves 25, so double, triple, or quadruple that as needed). A very large serving bowl usually fits 1 large recipe, so you will need to refill the salad a few times. Also, it is easier to get an even distribution of ingredients if you toss 1 recipe together at a time. So the best way to refill the salad is to have batches prepped and set aside individually.
To do that, chop the total amount of each ingredient and set in piles. Then measure out enough for each recipe into individual baggies. Gather up all the baggies needed for one recipe and place them together in a gallon-sized bag. Now when it is time to serve you can just dump and toss.
For example, if I am going to triple the large salad recipe, I would cut 18 ounces of provolone. Then I would measure out 6 ounces into 3 separate baggies, repeating that process for each ingredient. Finally, I would grab 3 gallon-sized bags and add one bag of each ingredient into the larger bag.
For serving this or any other large salad (see it at work in this Autumn Chopped Salad and this Summer Fruit Salad) I use a serving platter from Sur la Table. Unfortunately, I don’t see the exact one online, but they do carry a similar bowl. My favorite way to shop there is to watch for a good sale, and then buy 2-3 items so that I have multiples. #neverenoughwhiteservingdishes
🙋 Questions and Answers
In the recipe card below there are instructions for feeding 25, but it is easily scalable to serve 50, 75, or 100. For tips on making that process easier see the For a Crowd section above.
This salad can have all of the components prepped ahead and refrigerated. However, it does not hold well once the salad dressing is on it. It is best to dress only the amount you will eat in one sitting.
If the ingredients are prepped and stored separately they should last for 3 days. However, I wouldn’t cut the lettuce more than a day ahead as it can begin to brown rather quickly.
📖 Serving Suggestions
- Either this 25 Minute Lemon Broccoli Pasta or this Easy Chicken Piccata Pasta are great pasta dishes to accompany this salad.
- If you are looking for a restaurant-style main dish, try this Crispy Chicken Parmesan. It is divine!
- Another great chopped salad is this Autumn Chopped Salad. It gets devoured every time I serve it.
- A truly decadent way to end this meal would be with these Chocolate Lava Cakes for a Crowd or these White Chocolate Blondie Sundaes with Maple Sauce.
👨🏼🍳 Tips & Tricks
- Thoroughly dry the lettuce. I use this salad spinner to make quick work of it. But laying out clean kitchen towels and gently rolling them up will do the trick. Just know that method takes a little bit longer.
- Chop things in relatively the same size. A chopped salad is about texture.
- DO NOT dress the salad until right before serving. It will continue to soften as it sits so last minute is key.
- Also, don’t overdo the dressing. Soggy salad is not your friend. Slowly add the the dressing. Mix well and taste. It would be better to slightly under dress the salad and serve extra dressing on the side. That way people can choose how much dressing they want.
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Italian Chopped Salad (with options for a crowd)
Small size (feeds 6-8)
- 8 cups iceberg lettuce diced, about 1 small head
- 1½ ounces pepperoni diced
- 1½ ounces salami diced
- 1½ ounces provolone diced
- ½ cup tomatoes, roma or cherry diced
- ¼ cup red onion diced
- ¼ cup English cucumber diced
- 1 tbsp pepperoncini peppers sliced
- black and green olives
- 1 ounce feta
- ¼ tsp dried oregano
- ¼ cup Bernstein's Restaurant Recipe Italian or Newman's Own Family Recipe Italian plus more to taste
Large Size (feeds about 25)
- 24 cups iceberg lettuce diced, about 2 large heads or 3 small
- 6 ounces pepperoni diced
- 6 ounces salami diced
- 6 ounces provolone diced
- 2 cups tomatoes, roma or cherry diced
- 1½ cup red onion diced
- 1½ cup English cucumbers diced
- ¼ cup pepperoncini peppers sliced
- black and green olives
- 4 ounces feta
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 cup Newman's Own Family Recipe Italian plus more to taste
- Chop the lettuce, pepperoni, salami, provolone, tomatoes, red onion, and cucumbers into approximately the same size pieces. Add to mixing bowl.
- Add in the feta and olives. Sprinkle dried oregano over the top and toss everything together.
- Pour in about half the dressing. Mix everything together. Taste and add more dressing as desired. Pour into serving bowl.
All nutrition information is provided by a third party and is an estimate only. Use your own nutritional calculator for more specific measurements.
The nutritional information above only includes the basic components of the salad. Depending on amounts this information will vary tremendously. Please use nutritional calculator of your own to determine the calorie content of your salad.