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Italian Antipasto Salad

This delightful Italian Antipasto Salad combines the rustic charm of traditional antipasto with the freshness of a garden salad. Each bite is a blend of textures and tastes, including creamy mozzarella, spicy salami, zesty pepperoni, and a medley of artichoke hearts, briny olives, and savory veggies, on a foundation of crisp romaine and arugula. Topped with a light, lemony dressing, this salad is summer in a bowl!

An overhead, angled view of a platter of Italian Antipasto Salad with toasted bread on the side.

What is Antipasto?

Antipasto, literally translating to “before the meal” in Italian, is a first course meant to whet your appetite. Traditionally served as a platter of small bites — similar to our American obsession with charcuterie boards — it can include cured meats like salami and prosciutto, marinated vegetables like artichoke hearts and olives, various cheeses, and sometimes even seafood.

Think of antipasto as a flavorful introduction to the meal ahead, designed to be enjoyed family-style and savored alongside a glass of wine.

In the U.S., antipasto is comparable to our cheese and charcuterie boards. One of the things I love about this salad is that it becomes a full meal. I’m a person who can happily make an entire meal out of appetizers, and this antipasto salad is a great excuse to do just that.

The main ingredients of Italian Antipasto Salad arranged on a round wooden board.

Ingredients, Prep Notes, and Substitutions

Here’s an overview of the salad’s main ingredients, along with some helpful notes for preparation and substitution suggestions.

Greens — My go-to lettuce choices for the Italian Antipasto Salad are romaine and baby arugula. I love the crispy texture of romaine that holds up so well to dressings, the peppery touch of arugula is just :chef’s kiss:.

I admit that I’m not a huge fan of iceberg lettuce, but in a pinch, it can take the place of romaine, along with some red leaf or green lettuce for arugula. Whatever you choose, take the time to chop them well.

Deli meats — I’ve stuck closely to the classic antipasto options of salami and pepperoni. Their zesty contributions give this salad a Mediterranean flair.

You could substitute other meats, such as turkey, ham, or roast beef, but you’ll be sliding into club sandwich territory. But it’s your salad and your rules!

Veggies — This salad can accommodate a lot of options but I went with the traditional artichoke hearts, roasted red peppers, tomatoes, red onions, and olives.

There’s no need to clean a fresh artichoke unless that’s something you like to do. A jar of marinated artichoke hearts is perfect, with minimal prep: Just slice any large hearts into smaller chunks.

Same with roasted red peppers: You can absolutely roast your own red bell peppers for this salad, especially over a smoky grill. But jarred peppers are an easy shortcut. You might find them sliced or whole; it doesn’t matter which, as you’ll be chopping them up into small pieces. If you can’t find roasted red peppers, jarred sweet pimento peppers are a nice substitution.

Pepperoncini is another classic antipasto ingredient that you can find either fresh or jarred. Here, I actually used mild banana pepper rings instead, because I had a partially used jar on hand. (Frugality, you are my friend!)

Side, close-up view of the Italian Antipasto Salad.

I always reach for cherry tomatoes, especially in the summer when they’re abundant in my backyard garden. They’re sweet, flavorful, and easy to handle. I recommend always cutting them into halves or quarters for salads: There’s nothing more ridiculous than trying to stab a whole cherry tomato as it rolls around your plate lol.

And finally, olives. Although I’ve grouped them here in the veggies section, did you know that olives are actually tree-growing stone fruits, or “drupes,” related to peaches and cherries? Their puckery, briny flavors are always welcome for antipasto. I used castelvetrano and kalamata olives here, but use your favorite (even stuffed olives!).

Mozzarella — Creamy, fresh mozzarella is always the right choice for this salad. I like the small mozzarella balls, known as ciliegine, because they’re the perfect size to fit on a fork. And there’s no prep!

But if you can’t find them, or the mozzarella pearls, just slice up a larger chunk of fresh mozzarella into cubes.

What about burrata? Burrata is an absolutely lovely variation of mozzarella, and would work well in this salad. It’s just a personal preference of mine to use regular fresh mozzarella in this flavor-layered dish, and save the more expensive burrata for a salad where it can really shine.

How to Make Italian Antipasto Salad, with Step-by-Step Photos

Ready to make the recipe? Skip to the recipe card (it’s printable) to get the full ingredient list, quantities, cooking times, and instructions. Or, keep scrolling for a visual walk-thru of making this salad.

Step 1: Make the dressing

Overhead view of a small bowl of salad dressing.

Add the dressing ingredients to a lidded jar and shake vigorously. Set aside, or store longer term in the fridge.

Step 2: Toss everything together!

Overhead view of salad ingredients in a mixing bowl.

Slice the salad ingredients into bite-sized pieces, in sizes that fit comfortably on a fork. Including the greens. You don’t want to have to take a knife to this salad, and it’s irritating to stab a huge leaf that you have to awkwardly fold into your mouth. Learn more about making salads that people love.

Drizzle the dressing over the salad and toss, ensuring that everything is coated. Serve immediately, or store in the fridge for later.

Overhead view of Italian Antipasto Salad arranged on an oval, white serving platter with slices of toasted baguette.

This salad can easily be made in advance and stashed in the fridge until ready to serve. It also makes dinner planning easy, because most of the ingredients are pantry or refrigerator items that you can purchase well ahead of time.

For my tastes, this salad is a satisfying main course, with its hearty meats and vegetables. I like to serve it with some bread fresh out of the oven, whether garlic bread, focaccia, or a crusty baguette.

Italian Antipasto Salad is a festive, flavorful experience that brings the essence of Italian dining to your table. Ideal for any occasion, from casual lunches to summer dinner parties, this salad might just become a new family favorite. So grab your ingredients and let’s toss up something deliciously Italian! Buon appetito!

Karen xo
Side view of Italian Antipasto Salad on a plate.
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Italian Antipasto Salad

This Italian Antipasto Salad recipe is a crowd-pleaser packed with the inspired flavors of Italy. Featuring a mix of mozzarella, deli meats, artichoke hearts, olives, and fresh vegetables tossed with romaine and arugula in a lemony dressing, it’s a meal-worthy salad that’s perfect for all of your summer gatherings.
Prep Time20 minutes
Cook Time0 minutes
Total Time20 minutes
Course: Salad
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: antipasto, italian antipasto salad
Servings: 6
Author: Karen Gibson


For the dressing:

  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup white wine or champagne vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated parmesan cheese (or Parmigiana Reggiano)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried italian herb blend
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar or honey

For the salad:

  • 3 ounces romaine lettuce leaves
  • 2 ounces baby arugula
  • 4 ounces small fresh mozzarella balls (Ciliegine or pearls)
  • 2 ounces Genoa salami, sliced into quarters (about 10 slices)
  • 2 ounces pepperoni, sliced into quarters (about 14 slices)
  • 6 ounces marinated artichoke hearts, roughly chopped
  • 5 ounces olives* (16 olives or so)
  • 1 roasted red pepper**
  • 2 tablespoons slivered red onions
  • 8 cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 1/4 cup sliced mild banana peppers or pepperoncini


Make the dressing:

  • Combine all ingredients into a lidded jar and shake well to blend. Or, use an immersion blender or a bullet blender. Set aside, or store in the fridge until ready to use.

Make the salad:

  • Chop the greens into small, bite-sized pieces. (If serving decoratively on a platter, you can use extra romaine leaves to line the outer edges of the plate, as seen in the photos on the blog post.)
  • Place the greens in a large bowl and add the remaining ingredients. Toss to distribute everything evenly.
  • Drizzle a bit of the salad dressing over the top and toss to coat. Repeat until the salad is lightly coated with the dressing. Serve the remaining dressing with the meal.


* A mix of olives is nice. Here, I used kalamata and castelvetrano
** You can buy roasted red peppers packed in water, either sliced or whole. If buying them sliced, use 2 or 3 heaping tablespoons. If whole, one will do.
Nutritional information, if shown, is provided as a courtesy only, and is not to be taken as medical information or advice. The nutritional values of your preparation of this recipe are impacted by several factors, including, but not limited to, the ingredient brands you use, any substitutions or measurement changes you make, and measuring accuracy.
Recipe Rating


Monday 20th of May 2024

This popped into my feed the day before a family gathering and landed on the menu. The salad dressing & use of arugula were what caught my eye. As many times as I’ve made antipasto; arugula never crossed my mind as an addition and I really enjoyed it here. Thank you for the inspo!

Karen - SoupAddict

Monday 20th of May 2024

I’m having a thing with arugula at the moment lol. It ends up in almost everything, breakfast, lunch and dinner.