This delicious vegan Italian chopped salad has it all for anyone that loves hearty & healthy fresh vegetables. The juicy tomatoes with crisp cucumbers add freshness. The classic Italian olives, artichoke hearts, and pepperoncini for a spicy savory boost in flavor. All of this plus some protein from garbanzo (Ceci) beans. There is so much to love about this salad, I never know where to take my first bite when I dig in.
A bunch of fresh vegetables and flavorful jarred produce makes this chopped salad great for when you have company over. It is bright, colorful, and has all sorts of textures so serve it up for all your friends and family. It is crunchy, juicy, spicy, & fresh in every tasty bite. Enjoy this vegan salad for all your parties, cookouts, and gatherings since it is perfect for almost every special diet.
This salad is a great complete meal in one. But you can add more to it to make it even heartier. I love to add some crunch with homemade air fryer croutons - they are also vegan.
What Makes this Salad Amazing?
You do not need to be vegan or vegetarian to fall in love with this chopped salad. You also don't need to be a fan of Italian food and ingredients. If you love the salad at Olive Garden, this vegan version will blow your mind.
It has everything you want in a salad, fresh produce, some protein, something spicy, and something crunchy. It has a variety of colors that draw you in. I mean we all eat with our eyes first, right?
What is a Chopped Salad?
A chopped salad is a salad that includes ingredients that are chopped to be uniform in shape and size. They are then tossed with dressing to complete. The salad may or may not be topped with additional ingredients like cheese, croutons, or seeds. For example, for a Mediterranean salad, this recipe would be topped with feta cheese - vegan or regular for a twist that is just as delicious.
This chopped salad has a base of romaine lettuce. It is crisp and holds up well to the many hearty Italian ingredients that go into this vegan recipe. Along with the crisp fresh greens are a bunch of fresh and jarred produce that combine for a combination wow.
You will find juicy tomatoes, crisp cucumbers, and pungent onions. There are also a few pantry items like olives that go into the salad. Once all combined you have a symphony of juicy, crisp, spicy, pickled, and crunchy all-in-one healthy salad recipe.
- Romaine lettuce
- Garbanzo beans
- Cherry tomatoes
- Marinated artichoke hearts
- Black olives
- onion - red or white
- Dressing - vegan Italian dressing recipe included
See the recipe card for quantities.
Since this is a chopped salad, the only prep for this recipe is to chop most of the ingredients up. Try and cut everything up so it is uniform in shape. You want each piece to be smaller than bite-sized. Think of being able to use a fork to grab several ingredients at once and to fit easily into your mouth.
You can begin by slicing the wash romaine lettuce leaves into long strips. Then chop those strips into small pieces. Place the chopped romaine into a medium-sized salad bowl or platter. If you have extras, use these tips to keep chopped or shredded lettuce fresh for days.
Once all the romaine is chopped, begin cutting the other ingredients. The tomatoes, cucumber, and marinated artichoke hearts need a rough chop. See below for the size you should be aiming for.
The pepperoncini should be sliced if your jar is whole peppers, not already sliced. If they are sliced like mine, just leave them. Slice the olives into 2-3 slices each. Chop the onion into the smallest pieces, about half the size you do the cucumbers.
Last but not least, the garbanzo beans are left whole - no chopping is needed. Store any leftover beans in an air-tight container in your refrigerator for up to 3 days.
Top the romaine with all the chopped vegetables. The Italian chopped salad is now ready. You can store this for enjoying later or add dressing and enjoy immediately.
Hint - Great for Meal Planning: The beauty of this easy salad recipe is that it can be made ahead of time. It is the perfect meal-planning salad for lunches or dinners. So go ahead and make this vegan recipe ahead of time to help you out during the busy weekdays.
Once everything is chopped up it stores well in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. My only suggestion is to keep the fresh lettuce in a separate container or put it on top. This will keep it from wilting under the weight of the other ingredients.
To dress this salad, add dressing & then gently toss to coat. See below for my vegan Italian dressing recipe. It is the best way to finish this Italian chopped salad.
How Much Dressing to Use
Do not overdress this salad, it only needs a light drizzle. I suggest adding ¼ cup of dressing and then tossing it to coat. Check to see if this is your desired amount of dressing. If you want more, add a tablespoon at a time & check.
Once the salad is tossed with the dressing, begin serving. Using tongs or serving utensils, divide the salad evenly. This chopped salad makes a great light dinner or lunch divided between two large plates. It is also great as a first course or side salad for 4 people.
Best Dressing for Italian Chopped Salad
Since this is a vegan salad, it needs a tasty vegan dressing. The perfect salad dressing is my VEGAN ITALIAN SALAD DRESSING. This olive oil & red wine vinegar dressing has garlic, basil, fresh lemon juice, and nutritional yeast for a cheese flavor. It goes so well with this salad and is the best way to serve this chopped salad.
This salad is fantastic as is. However, you can always personalize it and make a few changes. This versatile recipe can be altered for a high-protein vegan salad or added more Italian ingredients for a powerhouse salad.
- Extra Protein - you can change out the beans in this recipe, add kidney beans or cooked lentils
- Cheesy- the vegan dressing has nutritional yeast for a cheesy flavor but you can add additional over the salad or your favorite vegan parmesan cheese.
- Pickled - for some pickled flavors, add Italian giardiniera (pickled carrots, cauliflower, etc) to the salad
For a fun homemade recipe try this HOT ITALIAN GIARDINEIRA.
If you are on a vegetarian diet, not vegan, this recipe is great. You can add a few other ingredients if you wish to enjoy vegetarian-friendly ingredients. Cheese can add more flavor, protein, and dairy for a great vegetarian Italian chopped salad.
Here are some cheeses that I recommend for additions to the salad or you can even place them on the side to let each person add or omit as they wish.
- Parmesan or Romano - add fresh shaved or grated cheese after the salad is dressed.
- Gorgonzola - this sharp blue-veined cheese adds so much flavor with a small amount, sprinkle this on after the salad is dressed.
- Fresh Mozzarella - dice up fresh mozzarella and add to the salad.
- Provolone - a slightly sharp cheese perfect to dice up and add to the salad.
This salad is great for meal planning. Chop all the ingredients ahead of time and store them in an air-tight container for up to 3 days. I suggest storing the lettuce separately. Do not add the dressing until you are ready to eat.
I do not recommend storing leftover salad that has dressing on it. The chopped ingredients, minus the lettuce do store well with dressing. They can be stored in an air-tight container for 24 hours and later enjoyed.
You can pack this salad for school or work lunches, picnics, potlucks, BBQs, cookouts, and travel. Layer the chopped ingredients on the bottom, top with the romaine, and pack the dressing on the side. Mix together later when you read to enjoy.
These ingredients don't stand up well to freezing. I do not recommend freezing salad.
Vegan Italian Chopped Salad
- 3 cups romaine lettuce chopped
- 1 cup canned garbanzo beans drained
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes chopped
- ½ cup marinated artichoke hearts chopped
- ½ cup cucumber chopped
- ½ cup black olives pitted & sliced
- 2 tablespoons pepperoncini peppers stems removed & sliced
- 2 tablespoons onion, red or white diced
- VEGAN ITALIAN DRESSING see recipe link above
- Gather and wash all ingredients as needed. Also, grab a medium-sized salad bowl or platter.
- Slice romaine leaves lengthwise in 3-4 strips. Then chop those into small bite-sized pieces. Once you have 3 cups of chopped romaine, add it to the bowl.
- Next, begin prepping the chopped vegetables. The tomatoes, cucumber, and marinated artichoke hearts need a rough chop. Add to the romaine.
- The pepperoncini should be sliced if your jar is whole peppers, not already sliced. Slice the olives into 2-3 slices each. Chop the onion into the smallest pieces, about half the size you do the cucumbers. Add both to the other ingredients.
- Last but not least, the garbanzo beans are left whole - no chopping is needed. Just make sure they are drained. Add to the salad.
- Top with my Vegan Italian Salad Dressing or your favorite dressing. Toss to coat and enjoy.Optional - top with additional nutritional yeast.
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 8.7g||11%|
|Saturated Fat 1.3g||7%|
|Total Carbohydrate 36.2g||13%|
|Dietary Fiber 10g||36%|
|Total Sugars 12.3g|
|Vitamin D 0mcg||0%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calorie a day is used for general nutrition advice.|
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