Try this easy antipasto salad recipe for a quick weeknight dinner. Start to finish it takes just a few minutes—including the simple homemade Italian dressing.
This is one of my favorite no-cook weeknight meals. A little slicing and a quick shake of the dressing ingredients, and dinner is ready. Antipasto salad is hearty and full of flavor—perfect when you don't want to turn on the stove.
What Is Antipasto Salad?
Antipasto is an Italian term that means "before the meal." It's Italy's version of American appetizers and French hors d’oeuvres. Traditionally, antipasti is served as the first course of an Italian meal and is offered as small portions of cured meats, olives, cheeses and pickled vegetables.
But here, I've turned it into a low carb, gluten and dairy-free meal that's perfect for lunch or dinner. This salad has all of the flavors of traditional antipasto—Italian meats and marinated vegetables—on a bed of crunchy romaine lettuce all tossed with a flavorful antipasto dressing.
Here's what you'll need
This antipasto salad recipe is very flexible. Use your favorite marinated vegetables and Italian meats to make this quick and easy dinner.
I like to use prosciutto and Genoa salami or pepperoni. And at least three different vegetables. Just be sure to read the labels and look for meats that have clean ingredients. For this salad, I found a prosciutto with just pork and salt, and a pepperoni with just a few ingredients.
Look for authentic Proscuitto di Parma with the five-pointed Parma crown logo—it's made with no additives or preservatives, just sea salt, air and time.
Here are some ideas for different veggies to use:
- black olives or Kalamata olives
- green olives---I love Castelvetrano olives in this
- marinated artichoke hearts
- roasted red peppers
- cherry tomatoes
- red onion
- marinated mushrooms
- pepperoncini or banana peppers
Check the labels for your vegetables as well. The olives, artichokes, peppers, and other marinated vegetables should be packed in olive oil or vinegar with no additives.
Of course, you'll want to cut everything in bite-size pieces before adding the vinaigrette dressing. The homemade Italian dressing is super simple - just add extra virgin olive oil, red wine vinegar, garlic, dried oregano, fresh herbs, salt, and pepper to a jar and shake (or whisk together in a small bowl).
While traditional Italian antipasto usually includes fresh mozzarella or provolone cheese, I leave out the cheeses to keep it dairy-free and paleo. There is so much flavor in the rest of the ingredients you don't miss it!
Ways to serve it
Of course, the easiest way to put it together is as a simple tossed salad. Just throw everything in the bowl, drizzle with dressing and mix it together. But don't stop there—here are some more creative ways to dress it up.
This salad is a real crowd pleaser. It works on a buffet, as a dish to pass, a side dish, or as an appetizer. To make an antipasto salad platter, layer the ingredients starting with a bed of romaine lettuce. Then arrange the meat and vegetables over the salad greens and drizzle with the dressing and a garnish of fresh basil.
Pro tip: To make it fancy, loosely roll strips of prosciutto into little rosettes before placing on the platter.
You can put even stack a piece of meat, a few vegetables and a wedge of lettuce on a cocktail skewer to make an easy-to-eat hors d'oeuvre for a party. Serve the Italian dressing alongside as a dip, or drizzle it over the skewers.
Or serve it as the traditional first course of an Italian meal with one of these low carb pasta recipes as the main course.
This easy antipasto salad is so versatile you'll want to keep the ingredients on hand so you can whip it up any time. It's a perfect keto, paleo, and Whole30 no-cook dinner!
Here are a few ideas to change things up with some easy swaps to make a completely different antipasto experience.
- Low Carb Pasta Salad: Use a vegetable substitute for traditional pasta, such as spiralized broccoli stems, zucchini noodles or celery root. You can also use kelp noodles or shirataki noodles as the canvas for the cured meats and marinated veggies. Just place all of the ingredients in a large bowl and toss to coat with the zesty dressing for an antipasto pasta salad with zoodles.
- Grain Free Pasta Salad: Another easy variation is to swap out the lettuce and try a store-bought box of grain-free and gluten-free cassava noodles for a more pasta-like texture. Cook the noodles, add the antipasto ingredients and drizzle with Italian dressing before tossing.
- Antipasto Wraps: While my recipe turns tasty antipasto ingredients into a mixed salad, you can use all the same vegetables and cured meats but swap the chopped bed of lettuce for a substantial lettuce leaf to serve as a wrap for a handheld meal. Use Romain or Bibb lettuce leaves to give you a large enough canvas to work with. You could also use a grain-free tortilla wrap. Just add the ingredients to the flat lettuce leaf or tortilla, drizzle with dressing and roll them up.
- Seafood Salad: The beauty of antipasto is that the ingredients are usually a no-cook effort which includes any cured meats. However, you can easily swap the protein out for seafood options, which are just as popular in Italian cuisine. No-cook options include canned tuna fish and smoked salmon. If you can spend a few minutes cooking, shrimp is a great protein to use. Those seafood options will pair well with the other ingredients in my recipe.
You can store leftovers of this antipasto salad (without the dressing) in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 2-3 days.
If you're planning to meal prep this salad to eat throughout the week, you'll want to store all the ingredients separately in small containers or larger glass sectional containers so the salad greens and marinated wet ingredients won't make the salad soggy. That way, you can just toss and dress the salad when ready and everything will be crisp and fresh.
You can also store individual salads in mason jars by layering the wet ingredients on the bottom and finishing with the lettuce on top. For example, marinated veggies and olives go in first, followed by cured meats and then top it off with the greens. Store the dressing separately.
More quick and easy salads
- Avocado Tuna Salad (Paleo, Keto, Whole30)
- Easy Avocado Caprese Salad (Dairy Free)
- Broccoli Salad with Bacon (Paleo, Whole30, Gluten Free)
- Shrimp, Avocado, and Arugula Salad
- BLT Salad with Chipotle Dressing
- Chicken, Spinach, and Strawberry Salad
Antipasto Salad Recipe
- Combine all ingredients in a large salad bowl.
- Toss with Italian dressing.