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Big Italian salad

Italians love salads almost as much as pasta, which may be why they have the lowest obesity rate in Western Europe. While salads have traditionally been served after the main course, today many Italians eat salad before, as it helps curb the appetite. So much pasta…so little room.

This colorful Italian salad is part green salad and part antipasto (or appetizer: cherry tomatoes, peperoncini and green olives). The dressing is a classic creamy Italian dressing with a small amount of mayonnaise. I used Hellman's Light to lighten it. The original recipe calls for 1/4 cup of olive oil, but I reduced that amount by half. No harm, no foul. Try it. It’s so good that I’m pretty sure you'll make this dressing a regular in your salad rotation.

If you're cooking for two and don't want a ton of lettuces in your fridge after making this

Our salad in Lucca, Italy, served in the center of the table for sharing.

the first time, use a bag of premixed greens, but do try to find a combination with red leaf lettuce included. The more colorful, the more nutritious and enjoyable. Iceberg lettuce is a must for its crunch!

When I visited my best friend in Italy 5 years ago, we were served a dinner salad with cannellini beans. tomatoes, onion and olives before the main course. I took a picture of it so that I could remember how to make it at home. Adding white beans to salad makes it more filling without adding lots of WW Points or calories. Great idea! Beans aren't included in this recipe, but you can add them along with any other salad favorites, like artichoke hearts, scallions, even chopped chicken, which would make this a main course!

1 garlic. clove, smashed

Kosher salt

2 Tbsp. light mayonnaise

2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar

1/2 tsp. dried oregano

2 Tbsp. olive oil

Freshly ground pepper

1 large romaine heart, chopped

1 small head radicchio halved, cored and coarsely chopped

1/4 head iceberg lettuce, coarsely chopped

1 tender celery rib, thinly sliced

1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced

1/2 cup cherry tomatoes

1/4 cup pitted green olives

8 peperoncini

1 oz. grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

In a large bowl mash the garlic into a paste with a generous amount of salt. Whisk in the mayonnaise, vinegar and oregano, then whisk in the olive oil. Season with pepper.

Add all the remaining ingredients and toss well. Serve immediately.

Serves 6

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