This 15-minute Italian Salad features sun-dried tomatoes, artichokes, cherry tomatoes, pine nuts, Parmesan cheese, and a mix of baby spinach + baby arugula. Tossed with homemade Italian dressing, this healthy fresh salad is meatless, gluten-free, and packed with nutrients and fiber. Serve it as a side dish, or quick lunch, or turn it into a complete meal by adding your favorite protein (seafood, grilled meats, chicken). It's a definite crowd-pleaser to share with friends and to bring to potlucks, picnics, block parties, and other festivities.
Easy Italian Salad
What I love about this salad is that it's so versatile and very flexible. You can use your favorite greens: lettuce, mixed greens, baby spinach, or arugula. Dress up the salad greens with Italian-style ingredients: sun-dried tomatoes, artichokes, shaved Parmesan cheese, and homemade Italian dressing. Add your favorite veggies, such as cherry tomatoes and red onions. You can also add cucumber, bell peppers, and avocado. Add other Italian-style ingredients, such as prosciutto, pepperoni, or peperoncini. I have a ton more suggestions on how to customize this salad down below under the section "Substitutions, Variations, and Add-ins".
Summer salad you can make year-round
Even though this Italian salad screams Summer, it uses simple and easily accessible ingredients and can be made year-round. Bring Summer and healthy veggies into your house by making this flavorful Italian salad any time of year!
It pairs well with any main dish: grilled or cooked meats, fish, seafood, or pasta. Or, you can simply add your favorite protein directly into the salad, such as cilantro-lime shrimp or pan-seared chicken thighs to turn it into a complete meal. Your family will love vibrant, healthy, and fresh ingredients tossed in a light homemade Italian vinaigrette.
Why you'll love it
- Simple ingredients and easy recipe instructions. This quick and easy house salad features only 7 basic ingredients (greens of your choice, sun-dried tomatoes, artichokes, red onion, pine nuts, fresh cherry tomatoes, and Parmesan cheese) and takes just 15 minutes to make! It's simple enough to serve with your weeknight dinner or to make for lunch and snack. If you like easy and healthy fresh green salads, you might also enjoy this Greek salad or my apple spinach salad.
- Perfect everyday salad. Drizzled with a simple homemade Italian vinaigrette, this basic salad pairs well with any type of main course: grilled meats (steak, lamb, pork, etc), cooked chicken, pasta, and pizza dinners.
- Easy to customize. This is a flexible recipe and there are so many ways to enhance this Italian salad or simply to adapt it based on what you have available. See more on that below - under the section "Substitutions, Variations, and Add-ins".
The ingredients you need
- Greens. I used a mix of baby spinach + peppery arugula, but you can use any other greens you love, such as butter lettuce or mixed greens.
- Sun-dried tomatoes. I recommend using sun-dried tomatoes packed in olive oil (sold in a glass jar). They are softer and have a better texture than the ones that are not in oil. Drain olive oil well.
- Artichokes. I used olive oil marinated and roasted artichokes.
- Fresh cherry tomatoes - I sliced those in half for presentation purposes.
- Parmesan cheese, freshly grated or shaved.
- Red onion adds so much flavor! You only need about ¼ cup of it. Feel free to use more if you want.
- Pine nuts. I toasted them lightly before adding them to the salad.
Italian salad dressing
I love making my own salad dressings - they taste so fresh and you know exactly what goes into them. For this salad, I made a vinaigrette-style dressing with basic pantry ingredients. So simple!
- I combined extra virgin olive oil, red wine vinegar (or freshly squeezed lemon juice), Dijon mustard, honey, and Italian seasoning in a mason jar.
- Then, I whisked everything well with the fork until emulsified.
- You can also close the mason jar with the lid and shake it vigorously instead.
- Season the salad dressing with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.
How to make Italian salad
- Toss the greens (baby spinach + arugula) together with sliced cherry tomatoes, sliced sun-dried tomatoes, chopped artichokes, and sliced red onion in a large bowl.
- Add the desired amount of the homemade Italian salad dressing.
- Toss to combine the salad ingredients with the dressing.
- When serving, top the Italian salad with shaved Parmesan cheese and pine nuts.
Variations, substitutions, and add-ins
My favorite thing about this Italian salad is that it's really flexible and you can add/subtract whatever ingredients you have available. Feel free to swap in your favorite fresh fruit, cheese, nuts, seeds, and a variety of greens.
- Greens. Use your favorite salad greens: arugula, baby spinach, butter lettuce, regular lettuce, or mixed greens.
- Tomatoes. I used a combination of sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil and fresh cherry tomatoes. You can use any type of tomatoes you like.
- Cheese. My favorite cheeses to use in an Italian salad are Parmesan, Asiago, Romano, or Gorgonzola.
- Nuts. I love using nuts in salads. Add toasted sliced almonds, pine nuts, walnuts, or pecans.
- Seeds. If you don't like the idea of nuts, add sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds.
- Add capers and/or olives. They will add a salty and briny flavor to the Italian salad. Kalamata olives and green olives will be delicious!
- Add pasta and turn it into an Italian pasta salad! I recommend orzo and small-shaped pasta, such as farfalle, penne, or fusilli.
- Add cured meats, such as pepperoni, prosciutto, or bacon.
- Add citrus. I love adding fresh mandarin orange slices, or grapefruit to fresh green salads.
- Add fresh fruit. Why not? Add a small amount of sliced apples, pears, mango, or peaches.
- Add dried fruit, such as dried cranberries (or Craisins). You can also use dried figs, blueberries, cherries, or raisins. Tip: You can plump up the dried fruit by briefly blanching it with hot water.
- It's best to serve fresh Italian salad right away, so I recommend making just enough so that you have no leftovers.
- If you do have leftovers, the salad can be refrigerated for 2 days. It's best to refrigerate the salad and the dressing separately.
What to serve with it
- Grilled meats. You can serve this simple salad with grilled meats (steak, pork, lamb), BBQ ribs, chicken, and other Summer dishes.
- Mediterranean-style recipes, such as this Greek orzo, my delicious chicken florentine, or Italian ravioli.
- Seafood. Make your favorite salmon recipe to serve alongside this Italian salad. I recommend my Mediterranean salmon or cilantro-lime honey salmon.
Other fresh salads you might like
- Green Salad with Apples and Blue Cheese
- Strawberry Spinach Salad
- Avocado Mango Salad
- Peach Blueberry Spinach Salad
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon honey
- ¼ teaspoon Italian seasoning
- salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 6 oz arugula and baby spinach mix or lettuce, mixed greens
- 4 oz sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil, drained, chopped
- 4 oz artichokes chopped
- 4 oz red cherry tomatoes sliced in half
- ⅓ cup red onion sliced
- ⅓ cup Parmesan cheese shaved or grated
- ⅓ cup pine nuts
Make salad dressing
- Combine all salad dressing ingredients in a mason jar. Whisk well with a fork, until emulsified. Or, close with the lid, and shake vigorously. Add more olive oil to taste.
Assemble the salad
- In a large bowl, combine all salad ingredients, except Parmesan cheese and pine nuts.
- Toss with the salad dressing, until well combined. You don't need to use all of the salad dressing - use just enough.
- When serving, top with shaved Parmesan cheese and pine nuts.
The nutritional information on this website is only an estimate and is provided for convenience and as a courtesy only. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed. It should not be used as a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.