I love a good salad. Like almost never a side salad. I love a MASSIVE, lots-of-bits-and-pieces salad. Give me all the veggies, chopped small in a huge bowl and let me eat it until my jaw is tired. I’m serious. I’m also having a serious moment with all things pickley and briny and zesty and zippy. This zesty Italian chopped salad makes my mouth water just looking at it! So fresh and and crunchy and takes a million minutes to eat while wiping out just a tiny chunk of your macros for the day. WIN.
Are salads really macro-friendly?
Making a salad “macro-friendly” might seem like a simple task if you’ve always thought of salads as super healthy. But for me, they were one of the first things to go when I started counting macros! I’ve always loved a big salad. But before I understood macro-counting, a big salad always meant tons of fruit, nuts, and cheese…. and a homemade dressing shimmering with good olive oil. If those still make your heart leap, don’t let me ruin it for you! But when I could see that my salad matched the macros of a plate of nachos or a cheeseburger, I decided it was time to switch things up.
I still love fruit, and nuts, and cheese. Don’t get me wrong! Olive oil always has and always will make everything taste better. BUT– I’ve learned I’d rather save my fats for something I can see and chew on, like avocado, or the nuts and cheese! With a little mindfulness on quantity, you can have the things you love MOST, without sabotaging any goals that had you eating the salad in the first place.
Why I Love This Zesty Italian Chopped Salad
This Italian chopped salad is about as macro-friendly as they get. It’s PACKED full of veggies to make it huge and fiber-rich. It’s got some lean pepperoni for that salty, cured addition, a little mozzarella which conveniently adds some decent protein… and luckily this flavor profile doesn’t even ASK nuts or fruit to come to the party. Which just frees up more fat and carbs for LAYDUH. It’s meant to be vinegary and crunchy and veggie-y (*real word) which lends itself to a naturally very low-calorie, macro-friendly masterpiece.
The other thing I love about this zesty Italian chopped salad is that I don’t have to cook anything! It’s perfect for busy days weeknights when I don’t want to cook, but also don’t want to indulge. All I need to do is get out my trusty knife and cutting board and chop all the veggies!
Check out my “chopped” highlight on instagram for proof I love a good therapeutic chop session! And maybe I’ll convince you that you do too.
What goes in the Zesty Italian Chopped Salad
For this recipe, I chop cherry tomatoes, bell pepper, romaine lettuce, pepperoncinis, cucumber, artichoke hearts, and red onions. But don’t underestimate the fresh herbs! Basil and parsley give it so much more life and fresh bite. Be sure to chop everything small so every bite has ALL THE STUFF. Makes all the difference.
Once everything is chopped, I grab a large bowl and toss it all in together with some spring mix, lettuce, or arugula and the mozzarella cheese and pepperoni.
Make the Red Wine Vinaigrette for the Italian Salad
Now it’s time to make a simple red wine vinaigrette. We’re not even going to add any oil, just to keep fats super low. But you can always drizzle that on at the end if you’ve got plenty of room! I’m not going to pretend that won’t just be better. Haha.
Combine the red wine vinegar with some grainy dijon mustard, minced garlic and salt and pepper to taste. Whisk it all together and pour over your salad. Toss it to combine and sprinkle the finished salad with a couple of good pinches of kosher salt and plenty of cracked pepper. Don’t skimp!
Time to Eat Your Zesty Italian Chopped Salad
Now, you can eat this zesty Italian chopped salad as is, or you can play with some options if your macros allow it. If you have room for added carbs, I love to add chickpeas or simple homemade croutons to this salad combo. OR, I love to scoop it up as I go piling it onto a warmed up Joseph’s pita. If you need more protein, add some grilled chicken of course! If you need more fat, (count your lucky stars) and add some delicious olive oil, toasted pine nuts, or extra cheese! Without these additions, this zesty Italian chopped salad is fresh and crunchy and delicious.
And it will ALWAYS fit your macros.
As always, you can find me on instagram @lillieeatsandtells sharing my days as a busy mom who loves to eat real, healthy food. And lots of it. If you love salads as much as I do, check out all of my salad recipes here, or grab one of my macro-friendly cookbooks here! Macros are always included and pre-loaded into MFP for the EASIEST logging.
Quick and Zesty Italian Chopped Salad
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes halved (120 g)
- ⅔ cup bell pepper chopped small (100 g)- I prefer orange, red, or yellow
- 3-4 cups romaine lettuce chopped fine (200 g)
- 2-3 cups spring mix or arugula for a darker green 200 g
- ¼ cup fresh parsley chopped
- ¼ cup fresh basil chopped
- ⅓ cup pepperoncinis or jarred mild banana peppers chopped (40 g)
- ¼ cup canned artichoke hearts chopped (60 g)
- ¾ cup cucumber chopped (80 g)
- ¼ cup red onion sliced very thin, or diced, (40 g)
- ¼ cup grated or diced mozzarella 28 g (feta would be great too)
- 34 slices turkey pepperoni I used Hormel (60 g)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- For the Red Wine Vinaigrette
- 3 Tbsp red wine vinegar* 45 g
- 1 tsp grainy dijon 5 g
- 1 garlic clove minced (frozen)
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- Combine all salad ingredients in a large bowl. A small chop makes it all marry so much better!
- Whisk or shake together ingredients for vinaigrette and pour over the salad. Toss well, sprinkle with a good pinch of kosher salt and some cracked pepper and enjoy. If you’re happy to add some fat to your meal, obviously some delicious olive oil would only make things better! But I’m keeping this version super light.