Loaded Italian Salad with Red Wine Vinaigrette

Packed with veggies, salami, pepperoni, lots of fresh mozzarella & basil all tossed in an herby red wine vinaigrette! This loaded Italian salad is always a favorite & perfect for an easy summer meal!

A large white bowl filled with a loaded Italian salad tossed in a homemade red wine vinaigrette

Another summer salad recipe to add to your repertoire! This loaded Italian salad is one of our favorites and is a true classic! It’s packed with fresh veggies and cured meats, lots of creamy mozzarella balls and tossed in an herby red wine vinaigrette to take it over the top. My favorite part is the freshly sliced basil – it’s adds so much freshness and zest and turns this salad into a flavor powerhouse!

It’s light and refreshing yet satisfying enough for a full meal! Serve it with your favorite garlic bread (or cheesy garlic bread) for a healthy summer dinner your family will love!

Ingredients used to make a loaded Italian salad

Ingredients For Your Loaded Italian Salad

  • Lettuce: Use sturdy leafy lettuce for the best results. (We like using green leaf lettuce or romaine.)
  • Salami: Any type of salami works! (We personally love using Italian dry salami.) You can either use pre-sliced or buy a hard stick and cut it into cubes.
  • Pepperoni: Use pre-sliced pepperoni to make prepping this salad even easier!
  • Fresh mozzarella: We love using mozzarella pearls! There’s no cutting involved – just toss them in!
  • Tomatoes: Use cherry or grape tomatoes for the best results. (They have the best flavor!)
  • Pepperoncini: You can use pre-sliced pepperoncini or whole pepperoncini and slice them yourself.
  • Red onion: Red onion works the best for this recipe! (It doesn’t have a harsh “onion” flavor like white or yellow onions.)
  • Black olives: Always use pitted black olives!
  • Fresh basil: The best way to elevate your salad is by using fresh herbs! Slice your basil leaves pretty thick so you’re able to taste them in your salad!
  • Olive oil: We always use extra light tasting olive oil for our dressings! (It’s lighter and more mild in flavor than extra virgin or regular olive oil.)
  • Red wine vinegar: A ¼ cup of red wine vinager goes into your vinaigrette.
  • Garlic: You’ll need to mince at least 2 garlic cloves for your vinaigrette.
  • Seasonings: Italian seasoning, salt and black pepper are needed to season the vinaigrette!
Ingredients for an Italian salad sectioned out in a large clear bowl sitting next to a smaller bowl of fresh mozzarella

How To Make A Loaded Italian Salad

1. Make your vinaigrette. Whisk your vinaigrette ingredients together then season with salt and pepper to taste. (I’m usually very generous with the amount of salt.) Cover and keep it stored in the refrigerator while you prepare the rest of your salad.

2. Prepare your salad ingredients. Cut all your ingredients into bite-size pieces and add them to a large bowl.

3. Toss. Pour your desired amount of vinaigrette over the top and toss the salad until it’s fully coated.

4. Serve! Serve immediately with shredded parmesan on top (if desired).

A serving bowl filled with loaded Italian salad surrounded by cherry tomatoes and a bowl of sliced fresh basil.

How Do You Make Homemade Red Wine Vinaigrette?

There are so many salad dressing recipes online today – it can be a bit overwhelming! And while everyone has their personal favorite (especially for Italian salads), this red wine vinaigrette is mine. It’s zesty, tangy, super simple and full of bright robust flavors that will add some pop of flavor to any salad you toss it with! (Plus it’s only 7 ingredients!) It keeps well in the refrigerator so you can make a big batch and use it throughout the week!

Quick Note: We love vinegary salad dressings – so this vinaigrette is pretty heavy on the red wine vinegar. If you’re not a fan of vinegar-forward dressings – no problem! Just add 1-2 more tablespoons of olive oil until it’s to your liking.

Variations

  • Make it vegetarian! Replace the salami and pepperoni with chickpeas for some protein!
  • Add sliced avocado! Everything’s better with a little avocado! (Or maybe that’s just me…😉)
  • Sprinkle shredded parmesan on top! Two cheeses are always better than one! (Plus parmesan pairs so well with the rest of your ingredients.)
  • Add croutons for some crunch! Any type of seasoned or garlic croutons would be perfect with this salad!
A close up photo of an Italian salad tossed in a homemade red wine vinaigrette with a wooden spoon digging into it

FAQ’s

  • Can I prep any ingredients in advance? Absolutely! All of your ingredients can be prepared the day before and stored in separate containers in the fridge. Simply toss them together when you’re ready to eat!
  • My dressing solidified in the refrigerator. What do I do? No problem! Just leave it out at room temperature until the oil thaws then pour it over your salad and enjoy!
  • How long with my homemade vinaigrette stay good in the refrigerator? It should stay good for up to 2 weeks if stored properly.

Why you’ll love this Italian salad recipe!

  • So much flavor! Zesty, tangy, creamy & so refreshing too! This salad has it all!
  • Fills you up! No skimpy salads over here! This one’s packed with protein, veggies & lots of fresh herbs & mozzarella!
  • A perfect main dish salad! Hearty enough for dinner & perfect for potlucks too! Try serving it with some garlic bread for a well-rounded meal!

More salad recipes you might like:

[Made one of my recipes? Make sure to tag my Instagram @kalefornia_kravings & leave a review in the comments. I love seeing what you create!]

Loaded Italian Salad with Red Wine Vinaigrette

Packed with veggies, salami, pepperoni, lots of fresh mozzarella & basil all tossed in an herby red wine vinaigrette! This loaded Italian salad is always a favorite & perfect for an easy summer meal!
Prep Time15 minutes
Total Time15 minutes
Course: Salad
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: Italian salad, red wine vinaigrette, salad recipes
Servings: 4 servings
Author: Caitlin

Ingredients

For the salad:

  • 6 cups leafy green lettuce (romaine or green leaf)
  • 4 oz. salami, quartered
  • 4 oz. pepperoni, cut in half
  • ¾ cup mozzarella pearls (or fresh mozzarella cut into cubes)
  • ¾ cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • ½ cup black olives, pitted & sliced
  • ¼ cup pepperoncini, sliced
  • ¼ cup red onion, sliced thin
  • ¼ cup fresh basil, sliced thin

For the red wine vinaigrette:

  • cup olive oil*
  • ¼ cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp Italian seasoning
  • 2 garlic cloves, miced
  • ¼ tsp red pepper flakes
  • Salt & black pepper, to taste

Instructions

To make the vinaigrette:

  • Whisk your vinaigrette ingredients together in a bowl or large measuring cup, then season with salt and pepper to taste. (I'm very generous with the amount of salt.) Cover and keep it stored in the refrigerator while you prepare the rest of your salad.

To make the salad:

  • Add all your salad ingredients to a large bowl and pour your desired amount of vinaigrette over the top.
  • Toss until the salad is fully coated and serve immediately.

Notes

The amounts listed for the salad ingredients are suggested amounts. If you prefer more or less of an ingredient please feel free to alter the recipe to your personal preference.
Take your salad up a notch with a sprinkle of shredded parmesan & garlic croutons!
*We always use Extra Light Tasting Olive Oil for the dressing. (It’s lighter and more mild in flavor than extra virgin or regular olive oil.)
Note: This vinaigrette is very vinegar-forward! (That’s how we like our dressings.😉) If it’s too strong for you, add 1-2 more tablespoons of olive oil until it’s to your liking.

2 Comments

  1. This salad is delicious. We paired it with some garlic bread.
    Thank you for the recipe. 😊

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