Inside: Need an easy-to-make salad bursting with flavors? Make this famous Italian restaurant favorite filled with cured meat, three cheeses, olives, cucumbers, peppers, and more! ➡
It’s hotter than blue blazes outside, so the last thing we want to do is eat a hot meal, much less fire up the oven. Which can only mean—it’s salad season!
And if I’m going to get everyone in the family on board for salad as a meal, no plain Jane, bland, boring salad will do.
If there’s one restaurant salad that makes my family’s taste buds do a happy dance, it’s the “Chopped Antipasti Salad” at Buca di Beppo! Formerly known as the 1893 Salad, it’s packed with an explosion of flavor with its medley of cured Italian meats, three flavor-filled cheeses, fresh salad vegetables, olives, peppers, and more.
And this family favorite is so easy to make at home!
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What is antipasto?
The word “antipasto” means “before the meal” in Italian. And this appetizer is meant to awaken all the senses to get us ready for the main course. It’s typically made up of cured meats, olives, cheeses, peppers, mushrooms, and vegetables served at room temperature. They may be raw, pickled, marinated, grilled, or roasted, and all are sure to be loaded with intense flavor. And another factoid—”antipasto” is a single kind of appetizer, “antipasti” is plural for a tray of different offerings, and “antipasta” is a mangling of the other two words that doesn’t exist in the Italian language.
Ingredients for chopped antipasto salad.
You only need a few simple ingredients to make this Buca copycat salad:
- Lettuce: Two 8-10 oz. Bags mixed lettuce; or 1 bag iceberg lettuce and 1 bag romaine lettuce; or 1 small head iceberg and one small bunch romaine, chopped
- Red onion*: 4 tablespoons, roughly chopped
- Cucumbers: 1 cup, cut into 1/2 inch slices then quartered
- Roma tomatoes: 2 cups (about 2 tomatoes) diced into 1/2 inch pieces and divided between salad and topping
- Provolone cheese: 1/2 cup, cubed
- Feta cheese: 1/2 cup, crumbled
- Gorgonzola cheese: 1/2 cup, crumbled
- Pepperoni slices: 4 oz., cut into 1/2 inch pieces
- Mortadella or salami: 2 oz., cut into 1/2 inch pieces
- Pepperoncini pepper: 2 tablespoons, sliced
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
After tossing and before serving:
- Other half of chopped Roma tomatoes
- 6 whole Pepperoncini peppers
- 12 black olives or Kalamata olives
- 12 green olives
- 12 tablespoons Italian vinaigrette salad dressing, or to amount to taste (I use storebought and love the Bolthouse dressings in the refrigerated section)
*If you want to mellow out the strong aftertaste of raw onion, soak the cut red onion in a bowl of cold or ice water for 10-15 minutes, then drain it before adding to the salad. The sulfur compounds that make that powerful punch will leach out into the water from the cut onion surfaces.
How to make chopped antipasto salad.
1. Place clean lettuce in a large bowl. Top with all of the ingredients except for the Italian dressing, olives, whole pepperoncini peppers, and half of the tomatoes.
2. Toss everything together with salad tongs.
If dressing the whole salad, do it now. Pour the dressing around the outer edge and toss again, just until all the ingredients are covered. (Wait until serving or dress the individual salads to prevent wilted, mushy salad.)
Top the salad(s): Place the tossed salad either in a pretty serving bowl, on a serving platter, or in individual bowls. Then top with the remaining half of the tomatoes, the olives, and the whole pepperoncini peppers. (If serving in individual bowls, divide evenly among them.)
Some tips for making this recipe…
- Add grilled chicken for a filling summer main dish
- Serve it as a side salad with Italian food or grilled meat
- Play around with different ingredients: try fresh basil, roasted red bell peppers, marinated artichoke hearts, or prosciutto
We always leave Buca miserably full, and this salad is one of the reasons to blame. It’s so deliciously full of flavor, we gorge ourselves on it before the hot and heavy Italian dishes even hit the table!
But with the addition of a little chicken, making this favorite salad the meal itself is the perfect answer at our house for what to eat when:
- It’s too hot to eat hot food,
- We want something filling but not too heavy,
- Or we don’t want to turn on the oven.
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