You need to try this grinder salad, inspired by the iconic Italian American grinder sandwich. It has all your favourite antipasti and is packed with fresh veggies.
Spring and summer means it's time for potluck season- bring on the pasta salads, ice cream and chips with salsa! I know everyone is usually racking their head for what they can bring to BBQs or potlucks, so I'm bringing you this Italian grinder salad, inspired by the iconic sandwich we all know and love.
If you haven't heard of a grinder, it's a type of sandwich similar to a sub (or hoagie/hero, depending on where you're from!) that allegedly originated from New England. Grinders are usually filled with shredded lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, meats, and dressed with olive oil and vinegars. They are served on a crusty Italian bread, which may be where the name comes from (because you have to grind your teeth!).
This recipe is my take on an antipasto salad, with all of my favourite ingredients from a Grinder sandwich.
Why This Dietitian Loves This Recipe
This recipe is one of my summer favourites for a couple reasons:
- It's a salad version of a grinder sandwich. Who doesn't love a good sandwich, and especially a grinder? But sometimes I feel like a lighter salad, so this recipe is the perfect cross between two meals I love.
- Tons of veggies! There are three different veggies in here, providing a variety of micronutrients.
- Balanced. We've got protein from the meats and chickpeas, healthy fats from the dressing and cheese, and fibre from the veggies and chickpeas. This grinder salad fits the bill for a balanced and satisfying meal!
Bring this salad to all your summer potlucks and it'll be a hit for sure!
- Romaine or iceberg lettuce
- Red onion
- Roasted turkey
- Cherry tomatoes
Creamy Italian dressing:
- Olive oil
- Red wine vinegar
- Salt and pepper
- Italian spice blend
- Red pepper flakes
In a large bowl, combine salad ingredients.
Whisk together dressing ingredients. Add salt, black pepper and red pepper flakes and adjust taste to desired preference.
Drizzle dressing over salad and toss to combine.
Substitutions and Variations
To make gluten-free: This recipe is naturally gluten-free.
To make vegan: You CAN use vegan mayonnaise and skip the cheese, and deli meats. However, as they are the base of the salad I wouldn’t recommend this option! If you have access to good vegan alternatives, let me know how this salad turns out.
To make dairy-free: Swap the bocconcini for your favourite dairy-free cheese.
To make nut-free: This recipe is naturally nut-free.
Missing an ingredient? Try these:
- Bocconcini: Swap for provolone
- Deli meats: Swap in with any deli meat you prefer. I try to purchase nitrate-free options when possible.
- Mayonnaise: Greek yogurt
- Pepperoncini: Banana peppers
Another great way to enjoy this grinder salad is by adding it to some crusty bread for the classic sandwich!
This antipasto salad is best served the day of, as I find it will get quite soggy if left in the fridge overnight.
However, if you wish to make this salad ahead of time, I recommend prepping the salad and the dressing and, storing in the fridge separately. Top with the dressing prior to serving and you're good to go!
Allow the salad to sit for 10-15 minutes prior to serving. This allows the toppings to absorb the dressing and will create a more flavourful salad!
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes! Of course you can. Simply make the salad and add it into a crusty bun for the ultimate grinder sandwich!
No, you do not! Chickpeas are a great way to add plant-based protein and fibre to this salad however as they aren’t a “traditional” ingredient in the grinder salad you can 100% leave them out if you desire.
You can, however I recommend sticking with a homemade dressing as it’s a great way to customize the flavours to your personal preference. You probably already have all the ingredients too!
It definitely can be! It has protein, veggies, fibre and healthy fats, making it a balanced option. You can always serve this salad with some crusty bread or soup for a larger meal.
As a dietitian, I believe that all foods can fit in a healthy diet. We know that processed meats can be high in sodium and additives like nitrates, which are not always the most health-promoting ingredients. With that being said, consuming some deli meat is okay in moderation. I like to buy nitrate-free options when possible!
More Easy Lunch Recipes
PS. I love seeing my recipes in action! If you decide to make this vegan bean salad, don't forget to snap a photo and tag me on Instagram- @nourishedbynic or leave a comment and rating below letting me know how you liked it!
Italian Grinder Salad (Antipasto Salad)
- 6 cups romaine or iceberg lettuce
- ½ red onion thinly sliced
- ⅓ cup chopped pepperoncini
- 150 g salami sliced
- 150 g roasted turkey sliced
- 1 cup mini bocconcini
- 1 pint 227g cherry tomatoes, sliced
- 1 cup chickpeas optional
Creamy Italian Dressing
- ⅓ cup olive oil
- 3 tablespoon mayonnaise
- 3 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- 2 teaspoon honey
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 tablespoon Italian spice blend
- Salt to taste
- Black pepper to taste
- Red pepper flakes to taste
- In a large bowl combine salad ingredients.
- Whisk together dressing ingredients, add salt, black pepper and red pepper flakes and adjust taste to desired preference.
- Drizzle dressing over salad and toss to combine.
Leave a Reply