Vegetarian Italian Chopped Salad

Today, I want to challenge both of us. So that we can eat salad all week long, I challenge us all to start creating a massive fresh salad on Sundays. Let’s start with this enormous, vibrant, and, dare I say, top-notch Italian chopped salad.

Even if you have a really delicious salad in the refrigerator, you might choose that instead of the bag of chips. I experienced it! Over the past few weeks, I’ve enjoyed four variants of this salad (especially the finished product you see here), and I’m still in the need for more.

When I placed an order for an expensive Neapolitan pizza and an Italian chopped salad down the street, I was inspired to create this salad dish. I specifically asked for the chopped salad without the bacon, and without it, it lacked that salty, savory, give-me-more edge. The only meat I ever miss is crisp bacon.

Italian Chopped Salad at its Finest

I set out to make a better Italian chopped salad without meat, and this is the result. The majority of the standard ingredients are present, including fresh tomatoes, pepperoncini peppers, red onion, crisp lettuce, and provolone cheese. I tried a few other varieties of cheese, but given how delicious provolone is, it’s understandable why it’s the most popular. However, you could easily omit it in favor of a delectable vegan or dairy-free salad.

This salad is made even better by a few unanticipated components. First, chickpeas, which are common yet add more heartiness to this salad. Sun-dried tomatoes added some more punch, and I also added celery for extra crunch. Sun-dried tomatoes’ umami flavor compensates for the umami-rich pork that is typically found in Italian chopped salads.

All of those components combined with a flavorful, homemade Italian vinaigrette make for a salad that is quite irresistible. I’ve loved larger quantities as a light entrée and smaller portions as a side.


Also read:  Colorful Chopped Salad with Carrot Ginger Dressing



  • 10 ounces chopped romaine lettuce* (about 2 medium or 3 small heads, chopped)
  • ½ medium head of radicchio*, finely chopped (about 2 cups)
  • ½ medium red onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 2 ribs celery, chopped
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, thinly sliced
  • ⅓ cup stemmed and thinly sliced pickled pepperoncini peppers
  • ⅓ cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, rinsed and roughly chopped
  • 1 can (15 ounces) chickpeas, rinsed and drained, or 1 ½ cups cooked chickpeas
  • 1 cup (4 ounces) ¼″ cubes of provolone cheese (optional)

Italian vinaigrette

  • ⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • ⅓ cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 10 twists freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon salt, more to taste
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes, for heat (optional)


  1. In a large serving bowl, combine the chopped lettuce, radicchio, onion, celery, cherry tomatoes, peppers, sun-dried tomatoes, chickpeas and cheese (if using). Toss the ingredients together and set aside.
  2. To prepare the dressing, combine all of the ingredients in a liquid measuring cup. Whisk until blended. Taste, and add more salt if the dressing doesn’t knock your socks off (I usually add one to two more pinches of salt).
  3. If you’ll be serving all of the salad at once, go ahead and drizzle enough dressing in to lightly coat the salad and toss to combine. I prefer to store the salad and dressing separately so I can enjoy salad for a few days. Just whisk the dressing again before drizzling (if the olive oil solidifies a bit in the refrigerator, don’t worry, that’s normal—just let it warm up for about 5 minutes at room temperature or microwave for 10 to 20 seconds).


Recipe inspired by the chopped salad at 1889 Pizza and created with reference to Smitten Kitchen and The Kitchn.
MAKE IT DAIRY FREE/VEGAN: Omit the cheese! It’s still great without it. For a vegan dressing, substitute maple syrup for the honey.
*ROMAINE AND RADICCHIO NOTES: If you want to make this salad in a hurry, just buy two bags of chopped romaine/radicchio mix, and chop it into even smaller, bite-sized pieces. Radicchio is very bitter and can be hard to find, but I thought it added something special to this salad.