Italian Salad | Leite’s Culinaria

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This Italian salad, made with iceberg lettuce, tomatoes, olives, pepperoncini, Parmesan, and a creamy vinaigrette dressing, is just like the one at your favorite Italian restaurant. Actually, it’s better.

Two white plates of Italian salad made with iceberg, tomatoes, red onion, and Parmesan.
: Dylan & Jeni

This Italian restaurant salad is an exact replica of the classic you’ve experienced when out for dinner or on that hoagie from your neighborhood Italian deli that you never thought you could recreate at home.


Why our testers loved this

Our testers were delighted with this classic Italian salad that pairs crunchy iceberg lettuce with creamy dressing. They loved that the salad and dressing were both easy to make, and that there were “just the right amount of add-ins.”

Notes on ingredients

Ingredients for Italian salad -- lettuce, tomatoes, celery, Parmesan, dressing, onion, olives, and pepperoncini.
  • Creamy Italian dressing–You could also substitute a basic vinaigrette, or store-bought dressing, if you prefer.
  • Iceberg lettuce–The high water content of iceberg makes it crispy and crunchy and is the perfect vehicle for the creamy Italian dressing. For the classic Italian salad experience, we don’t recommend substituting a different type of lettuce.
  • Red onion–If you prefer a milder flavor from your red onion, soak the sliced onion in cold water for 5 to 10 minutes before draining and adding to the salad.
  • Pepperoncini–Blot these peppers dry with a paper towel before adding them to the salad.

How to make this recipe

A bowl with salad dressing and serving utensils and another photo of the bowl filled with Italian salad ingredients.
  1. Pour the dressing into a large bowl.
  2. Add the salad ingredients and toss to combine. Serve immediately.

Recipe FAQs

How do you smash olives?

Use a shot glass or the bottom of a small drinking glass and press down on the olive until it splits in a few places. If your olive has a pit, it should slip out easily after smashing.

Can I make this in advance?

You can prepare the dressing up to 1 day in advance and you can wash and chop your lettuce a few hours before serving. Store them separately in the refrigerator. Don’t assemble the finished salad until right before serving as the lettuce will become soggy as it sits.

What should I serve this with?

Classic Italian American fare is perfect here. This salad is great alongside lasagna and breadsticks, or if you’re keeping gluten-free or vegetarian, try it with gluten-free eggplant Parmesan.

Helpful tips

  • Prepare your dressing in a lidded jar so that you can shake it to recombine the ingredients just before assembling your salad.
  • This recipe is suitable for vegetarian and gluten-free diets.
Two white plates of Italian salad made with iceberg, tomatoes, red onion, and Parmesan.

More great salad recipes

☞ If you make this recipe, or any dish on LC, consider leaving a review, a star rating, and your best photo in the comments below. I love hearing from you.–David

Italian Restaurant Salad

Two white plates of Italian restaurant salad made with iceberg, tomatoes, red onion, and Parmesan.

This Italian salad, made with iceberg lettuce, tomatoes, olives, pepperoncini, Parmesan, and a creamy vinaigrette dressing, is just like the one at your favorite Italian restaurant. Actually, it’s better.

Prep 20 mins

Total 20 mins

  • Pour the creamy Italian salad dressing into a large serving bowl.

  • Add the lettuce, celery, onion, cherry tomatoes, olives, pepperoncini, and Parmesan, and toss to combine.

  • Serve immediately.

  1. Get ahead–Prepare the salad dressing up to 1 day in advance and wash and chop or tear the lettuce several hours before serving. Store separately in the refrigerator.
  2. Dressing container–Prepare your dressing in a lidded jar so that you can shake it to recombine the ingredients just before assembling your salad.
  3. Dietary–This recipe is suitable for vegetarian and gluten-free diets.

Serving: 1portionCalories: 138kcal (7%)Carbohydrates: 9g (3%)Protein: 5g (10%)Fat: 10g (15%)Saturated Fat: 3g (19%)Polyunsaturated Fat: 3gMonounsaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0.02gCholesterol: 6mg (2%)Sodium: 544mg (24%)Potassium: 239mg (7%)Fiber: 2g (8%)Sugar: 6g (7%)Vitamin A: 667IU (13%)Vitamin C: 17mg (21%)Calcium: 140mg (14%)Iron: 1mg (6%)

#leitesculinaria on Instagram If you make this recipe, snap a photo and hashtag it #LeitesCulinaria. We’d love to see your creations on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

#leitesculinaria on Instagram If you make this recipe, snap a photo and hashtag it #LeitesCulinaria. We’d love to see your creations on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.





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