Italian Artichoke Salad is our go-to salad for cozy winter dinners, alfresco summer barbecues and everything in between. We marinate artichoke hearts and red onions in a zippy red wine and parmesan vinaigrette, toss everything with crisp romaine lettuce and sliced roasted red peppers. Easy to make ahead of time, perfect to feed a large family, and delicious.
Italian Artichoke Salad
In our house you won’t find Spaghetti and Meatballs, Shrimp Alfredo, Stuffed Shells, or frankly, any Italian meal for that matter, without a big serving of our Italian Artichoke Salad. This is THE salad of all salads, so let’s all revel in its glory.
In a nutshell, we marinate red onions and artichokes in a red wine, lemon-y vinaigrette loaded with nutty parmesan cheese.Once the red onions and artichokes hang out in the dressing and essentially pickle, we pour the dressing/marinade over crisp romaine lettuce and roasted red peppers. And guys, that’s it. Simple, but full of flavor and honestly, just the best salad ever.
Italian Artichoke Salad is:
- Easy to throw together.
- Adaptable. Throw in some crispy croutons just before serving. Black olives, heart sof palm – the possibilities are endless.
- Perfect to bring to new moms or those in need of a meal. Just pack up the dressing and ingredients separately and toss before serving. Don’t forget to also bring her some of our lightened up chicken spaghetti.
- The only salad you need in your arsenal to serve to a crowd.
For those of you familiar with this local KC restaurant, it’s virtually a copycat off their house Italian salad, and now thanks to modern technology, we can all enjoy it at home.
Ingredients in Italian Artichoke Salad
Let’s talk about the dressing first because, that’s where the bulk of our artichoke salad lies.
Red wine vinegar. Red wine vinegar is essential in a classic Italian dressing, so try not to leave it out. It’s not as pungent as something like white wine or apple cider vinegar, and I find it to be slightly sweet.
Lemon juice. I really like the combination of lemon juice and red wine vinegar for the acid, especially when combined with artichokes. If you don’t have fresh lemons, you could just use red wine vinegar.
Dry mustard + dijon mustard. We use two different types of mustard because they have two different flavors. Dijon has a lovely spicy bite, while dry mustard gives off a more subtle mustard flavor. If you only have one or the other, that’s fine too.
Sugar. To balance out the acid from the vinegar and the lemon juice, we need a little bit of sweetness. We use white sugar, but you can also swap out honey.
Parmesan cheese. Even though the name of this is technically Italian Artichoke Salad, we also easily name it Parmesan Artichoke Salad because the use of parmesan is essential to the final product. Instead of simply garnishing the top of the salad with parmesan cheese, we add a heavy hand of it to the dressing itself so every single bite is coated with parmesan cheese.
Olive oil. You technically want to use a really light, neutral oil in this dressing, but I’m partial to olive oil both for taste and healthy fats. Make sure to use a regular olive oil and not something super fruity or extra virgin. You can also use canola oil.
Red onion. I love the beautiful color of red onions, and when marinated in the dressing, they get even prettier, and take on a slight pickle flavor.
Artichokes. Lots of artichokes. We like to buy canned artichokes in water instead of marinated artichokes so the only fat, calories, and preservatives we’re adding are in the dressing itself. You can buy quartered, halved, or whole.
Romaine lettuce. Romaine lettuce gets a bad wrap for being low in nutritients, but it’s actually quite the opposite. While it’s not super high in fiber, it IS high in calcium, phosphorous, magnesium, and potassium, among others. It’s really the only lettuce that stands up to the hearty dressing and artichokes.
I like to buy mine already washed and prepped so it’s ready to go when I want to whip up a salad.
Roasted red peppers. The original salad calls for pimentos, but I think roasted red peppers add more flavor.
Let’s make Artichoke Salad
Chop the artichokes. Drain the artichokes and then roughly chop them. I like for there to be a combination of small and larger pieces of artichoke for texture. Once you chop them. Put them between a few paper towels or a dry kitchen towel to get any excess moisture off of them. This is a really important step, because any excess water could dilute the salad and make it soggy.
Make the dressing, Add the vinegar, lemon juice, mustards, sugar, parmesan, some salt, and olive oil to a large mason jar or container. Shake to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add in the red onion and artichokes. Shake again and let the dressing sit for at least 30 minutes or overnight,
Assemble. Add the romaine to a large salad bowl. Top with roasted red pepper. Use a slotted spoon to scoop out all of the artichokes and red onion from the dressing. Pour a little bit of the dressing over the salad. Toss to combine. Taste and see if the salad needs any more dressing. DO NOT OVERDRESS.
Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.
Can I make this ahead of time?
Yes! So I’d recommend prepping everything in advance and storing it separately. NEVER dress a salad until you’re ready to serve. The salad dressing is great, because you can make it up to a week in advance.
Substitutions and Tips and Tricks for Recipe Success
- I’ve said it before, but DO NOT overdress the salad. Add the dressing a little bit at a time until the salad is adequately dressed. If you have leftovers, it will store in the fridge for up to a week.
- Add in black olives, croutons, shaved parmesan, any type of nut.
- Serve with lots of freshly cracked black pepper.
What to serve with Italian Artichoke Salad
- For the ultimate Italian soup and salad combination, serve our artichoke salad with with our cozy Minestrone Soup with Chicken Meatballs or this Pasta Fazool.
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
- 1 tsp dijon mustard
- 1 tsp ground mustard
- 1 small garlic clove, minced
- 2 tsp sugar
- 1/3 cup olive oil or canola oil
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish
- 1 small red onion, sliced very thin
- 14 oz canned artichoke hearts
- 2 romaine lettuce hearts, chopped
- 1 cup sliced roasted red peppers
- Large salad bowl
- Add red wine vinegar, lemon juice, dijon mustard, ground mustard, garlic, sugar, olive oil, salt, and parmesan cheese to a large mason jar or airtight container. Shake well. Add red onion. Let the dressing sit for at least 30 minutes and up to three days.
- Toss romaine with roasted red peppers and artichokes. Use a slotted spoon or fork to take all of the red onion out of the dressing. Shake and pour a little bit of the dressing over the salad. DO NOT OVERDRESS. Toss. If needed, add more dressing. Toss again. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Garnish with more parmesan cheese.