This authentic Italian antipasto salad is made with chunks of Italian cold cuts, provolone cheese, pickled giardiniera vegetables, tangy green olives, and pepperoncini that rivals those found at any Italian deli.


No lettuce. No fresh-from-the-farmers-market vegetables. Nope, not here. This antipasto salad is a meat eater’s dream. It’s inspired by a popular side dish at my fave Italian market that’s the perfect counterpart to any of the other potluck or gourmet gathering side dishes.

Unlike my antipasto salad platter or my Italian chopped salad with marinated chickpeas, this authentic antipasto salad skips any leafy greens and goes whole hog with a variety of Italian deli meats mixed with pickled veggies, and a simple balsamic dressing to make a salad that won’t go limp and delivers a filling bite with plenty of tang. And since there’s no cooking involved, it comes together fast.


What Antipasto Salad Is Made Of

Antipasto is known as the first course of the Italian meal and includes olives, pickled vegetables, and cured meats and low-moisture white Italian cheeses. Here, I toss it all in a bowl, drizzle it with a simple dressing, and enjoy each of the tangy bits of bites in every forkful.

Here’s what’s in this antipasto salad:

  • Mortadella: An Italian cured cold cut with large and small chunks of pork fat studded with pistachios
  • Salami: Choose any salami you prefer, Genoa, cotto, Finocchiona, hard salami
  • Smoked pastrami: This meat is totally optional but my favorite deli adds it to their recipe and I really enjoy the flavors. Or, try chunks of smoked ham instead.
  • Provolone cheese, or try a low-moisture mozzarella sold in a block
  • Mild giardiniera: An Italian medley of chopped, pickled cauliflower, carrots, peppers, celery, and chile peppers. If you like the heat, try the spicy version
  • Pepperoncini: Chop the pepperoncini and reserve the brine for the dressing¬†
  • Green olives: Slice flavorful pitted green olives (pimento-free) or try mild Castelvetrano green olives
  • Reserved giardiniera brine
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Freshly ground black pepper

How to Make Antipasto Salad

Chop the meats and cheese into bite-size pieces. The goal of this salad is to get more than one taste in each bite so make the chunks the perfect fork-to-mouth size.

Choose your favorite white, low-moisture Italian cheese. I used provolone here, but mozzarella (the kind you grate, not the kind you use in caprese salads) is delicious too.

Roughly chop the pickled veggies of the giardiniera and slice the olives. I use a mild giardiniera but if you prefer, use a hot giardiniera with more peppers.

Reserve the pepperoncini juice for the dressing. The pickled tang of the brine adds a distinct flavor to the balsamic vinegar and olive oil. It’s truly the missing link.

Toss and let the flavors marry. I think this salad does best when the dressing infuses into the meats so a little down time before eating is a good thing.


What to Serve With Antipasto Salad

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