Best Italian Antipasto Salad: Top Tasty Tradition

By E. Grace | Side Dishes

Aug 25
best antipasto chopped salad

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Best Italian Antipasto Salad: It’s simply the best antipasto chopped salad – from central Pennsylvania!

Antipasto is the traditional first course of an Italian meal.  It is served before the main course and literally means, “before the meal.”

Don’t fill up on the first course but mamma mia! Click HERE for many more scrumptious Italian appetizers.

Tony’s Salad Recipe: The Best Antipasto Salad Ever!

Nestled in between the rocky mountain faces of the Appalachians and the Juniata River, stood a simple Italian restaurant along the side of the road.

Locally, it was renowned as the best place for monster meatballs with spaghetti and garlic bread.  But it also had a well deserved reputation for an amazing antipasto salad.

Tony's is the best Italian Antipasto Salad! Memories are made of this. We've made the original recipe a traditional summer menu item.

Let me tell you about Tony’s Cottage Inn.

Before there was a bypass to Happy Valley, Pennsylvania, one of the few watering holes along Route 22 that Nittany Lions (and everyone in between) could stop for a bite to eat was a tiny little restaurant perched on the rocks above the Juniata River.

The road to State College and Penn State is a road well traveled during football season.

 Happy Valley Pennsylvania PA Aluminum License PlateHappy Valley Pennsylvania PA Aluminum License Plate

For years,  Tony’s was an unremarkable two-story brick building just off the fork in Route 22.

When my brother and I were little, we would visit our paternal grandfather in Lewistown, Pennsylvania.

Every time we went there, dinner would usually consist of two things – Kentucky Fried Chicken and the antipasto salad from Tony’s.

 Pennsylvania Diners & Roadside RestaurantsPennsylvania Diners & Roadside Restaurants  Dutch Kitchen Restaurant Cookbook: Family-Style DinersFamous Dutch Kitchen Restaurant Cookbook: Family-Style Diners Diners of Pennsylvania: 2nd Edition (2nd Second Edition) Diners of Pennsylvania: 2nd Edition (2nd Second Edition) [Paperback]

Our Best Italian Antipasto Salad – It’s Like No Other!

For the most intense flavors, be sure to buy all the ingredients fresh at the deli counter.

Mom buys 1/2 inch thick slices of the Genoa salami and pepperoni cut directly from the entire salami.

To prepare the freshest and best antipasto chopped salad do not use a single pre-packaged ingredient (except for the crumbled blue cheese)

Ingredients (besides the chopped romaine lettuce) include the following:

    • Genoa salami (cut into tiny cubes)
    • Pepperoni (cut int small pieces)
    • Swiss Cheese (cut into small cubes)
    • Blue Cheese (crumbled)
    • Green Pepper (diced)
    • Tomatoes (diced)
    • Black Olives (drained and dried)
    • Green Olives (drained and dried)
    • Red Onion ((cut into small dice)

best-italian-antipasto-salad ingredients

Anchovies are usually extremely salty but this brand is very mild flavored (Anchovies are optional.  However, they provide the flavor that makes it an authentic Tony’s Antipasto salad)

On a special diet? Click HERE to calculate the sodium content of foods.

Best Italian Antipasto Salad

Our Best antipasto chopped salad base after adding salami, pepperoni, olives and Swiss cheese

How To Make An Antipasto Vinaigrette Dressing

  • In a medium bowl or an immersion blender beaker, prepare a basic vinaigrette salad dressing using coarse sea salt, freshly cracked pepper, robust olive oil and red wine vinegar.
  • Instead of shallots, use crushed fresh garlic to taste.  No need to add shallots or onions to the dressing – you are adding diced red onions to the salad fixings.
  • Instead of tarragon, use fresh Italian herbs such as basil and oregano.
  • To kick it up several notches, add a couple inches of anchovy paste to the dressing.  I’ve never had anyone in this clan question that special flavor.  It just makes it taste totally authentic.  If you are brave and the troops are willing, chop regular anchovies into tiny bits and mix in with the meats and veggies. 
  • Know what? Just add the anchovy paste and keep it a secret.  Somehow, bits of anchovy are unacceptable while the flavor alone makes it “special”.
  • Parsley is always part of this equation but switch to flat leaf Italian parsley.  I firmly believe that parsley (the right kind) adds to the flavor quotient.  Although parsley is often used for decorative purposes, each type of parsley has a distinct flavor.


Assembling The Salad

Place the chopped salad ingredients in a large serving bowl then drizzled with the Antipasto Vinaigrette dressing and tossed to coat evenly.  Set aside.

Just before serving, the mix is tossed with the romaine lettuce pieces – just enough to coat the lettuce with the dressing already on the “fixings”.

I don’t know if it was the dressing or the combination of toppings, but I have yet to find another chopped salad that even comes close to comparing.  Except our version of course.  This is it!

The salad is the reason I love blue cheese and chopped salads. The only thing we all skip, except for my aunt and brother, are the anchovies (yuck!).

Mom, on the other hand, passes her dish around to collect all the little salty fish bits.  She loves the authentic version of the best Antipasto Chopped Salad, anchovies included!

Best Italian Antipasto Salad with added meats and cheese

Best Antipasto Chopped Salad Dinner

Buon Appetito!

Salad Recipes & Mom’s French Vinaigrette Salad Dressing:

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(1) comment

Two words. Oh, yum! Then again, two words are never enough when it comes to Italian food!Having married into an Italian family I had no idea that food is almost a religion and something to be revered. Love the ingredients in this salad (everything but the anchovies, that is. My adult son loves them and would eat them with gusto). Oh, and parsley…love the flat leaf Italian kind (is there any other?). Made my mouth water reading about this dish! Thank you.

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