Antipasto Salad

This colorful antipasto salad is hearty and full of zingy flavor, with lots of crunchy veggies, olives, artichokes, cheese, and Italian herbs.

Antipasto salad

Here’s a salad that’s full of big Italian flavors: antipasto salad! This combo between a pasta salad and Italian antipasti is loaded with zingy flavor: briny olives, tangy artichokes, and roasted peppers, contrasted with crunchy veggies and chewy pasta. Load it with fresh basil and there’s so much going on, you might not be able to stop eating it! Alex and I served it with a trio of salads for a happy hour dinner, and it was ideal. It’s filling enough to stand in for a main dish, too. The best part: it’s highly customizable to the ingredients you love. Let’s get cooking!

What is antipasto (or antipasti)?

Antipasto is the first course of an Italian meal: like a starter or appetizer. Antipasto is the singular, and antipasti is the plural for more than one dish. For example: “We had a few delightful antipasti to start the meal.” Some typical antipasti you might enjoy in Italy: cured meats like prosciutto, olives, fancy cheeses, marinated vegetables, pepperoncini, and mushrooms.

Antipasto salad

Ingredients in antipasto salad

So then…what’s antipasto salad? Turns out it’s an American invention that simply mashes up lots of traditional antipasti ingredients together in one place. There’s not a strict definition of this salad: some people mix a bunch of antipasti together, others serve them as part of a green salad or pasta salad. For our spin, we decided to use pasta: so you could call it a sort of antipasto pasta salad!

This salad is highly customizable to whatever ingredients you love or have on hand. Ingredients commonly used in antipasto salad are:

  • Olives of any color
  • Artichoke hearts, marinaded if you can find them
  • Roasted red peppers
  • Pepperoncini
  • Cheese: mozzarella or provalone, marinaded fresh mozzarella if you can find it
  • Pasta
  • Cured meats like salami, prosciutto,
  • Veggies: tomatoes, red onion, romaine or chopped spinach, mushrooms
  • Herbs: Fresh basil, oregano, Italian seasonings
  • Pasta Traditional or gluten-free (legume pasta can work here)
Anti pasto salad

How to cook pasta to al dente

To get this antipasto salad just right, you’ve got to cook your pasta to al dente. What’s al dente? In Italian it means “to the bite” and means pasta that is still firm on the inside when cooked. The ideal al dente texture is a tender exterior balanced by a firm bite with a fleck of white at its core. Here are our tips on how to cook pasta to al dente:

  • Boil the pasta in a large pot of salted boiling water.
  • While cooking, check pasta continually for doneness.
  • As soon as the pasta has a tender exterior but a fleck of white at its core, drain it! Even a few seconds can be the difference between al dente and limp noodles.

Dressing for antipasto salad

The dressing for this antipasto salad is a play on our Dijon Mustard Dressing! It’s got a touch more sweet to balance the tangy. We’ve also added Italian seasoning to the mix to amp those Italian flavors. You may even want to start using it for green salads! It’s quick and easy to whip up. Here’s all you’ll need for the dressing:

  • White wine vinegar
  • Dijon mustard
  • Maple syrup or sugar
  • Olive oil
Antipasto salad

A note on customizing the salt

For the kosher salt in this recipe, we’ve specified a range that you can customize (1/2 to 1 teaspoon). Why? Some of the ingredients here have varying salt quantities: like marinaded vs plain mozzarella or artichoke hearts, different types of olives, and so forth. Also if you decide to add meat to this recipe, you’d need less salt. Just add enough salt until the flavor pops!

More great salads to pair

There’s nothing better than a few salads to make a summer vegetarian salad dinner, or to accessorize a happy hour meat and cheese platter! This is how we served this antipasto salad, and it was perfect for an evening with white wine spritzers and family. Here are some of the salads we’d recommend pairing:

This antipasto salad is…

Vegetarian. For gluten-free, use gluten-free or legume pasta. For vegan, try a similar salad: Italian Vegan Pasta Salad.

Print
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Antipasto salad

*Best* Antipasto Salad


1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (12 votes, average: 4.42 out of 5)

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 8 1x
  • Diet: Vegetarian

Description

This colorful antipasto salad is hearty and full of zingy flavor, with lots of crunchy veggies, olives, artichokes, cheese, and Italian herbs.


Scale

Ingredients

  • 1/2 pound spiral pasta
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes
  • 1/4 medium red onion
  • 2 cups chopped romaine
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 1 jarred roasted red pepper
  • 1 cup pitted olives (we used green and black)
  • 1 cup artichoke quarters (from a can: marinaded if you can find them)
  • 1/2 cup sliced pepperoncini
  • 8 ounces mozzarella (fresh or cubed, or marinaded if you can find it)*
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons sugar or maple syrup
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning

Instructions

  1. Start a pot of well salted water to a boil. Boil the pasta until it is al dente (start tasting a few minutes before the package recommends: you want it to be tender but still a little firm on the inside).
  2. Slice the cherry tomatoes in half. Finely dice the red onion. Chop the romaine and fresh basil. Thinly slice the roasted red pepper.
  3. In a large bowl, add the cooked pasta with the chopped veggies, olives, artichoke quarters (drained) and pepperoncini (drained). Add the mozzarella, cutting it into cubes or pieces.
  4. In a small bowl, whisk the white wine vinegar, Dijon mustard, and sugar or maple syrup. Gradually whisk in the olive oil.
  5. Add the dressing to the bowl with the pasta and veggies, then add the salt and Italian seasoning. Stir to combine. Taste and add additional salt as desired.

Notes

*You can also add cured meats like salami or prosciutto.

  • Category: Salad
  • Method: Boiled
  • Cuisine: Italian

Keywords: Antipasto salad

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About the Authors

Sonja Overhiser

Cookbook Author and writer

Sonja Overhiser is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best healthy cookbooks of 2018. She’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food blog A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Sonja seeks to inspire adventurous eating to make the world a better place one bite at a time.

Alex Overhiser

Cookbook Author and photographer

Alex Overhiser is an acclaimed food photographer and author based in Indianapolis. He’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the recipe website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Alex is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best vegetarian cookbooks by Epicurious.

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