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Restaurant Style Italian Salad with Homemade Italian Dressing, Vegan

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This Italian salad recipe with homemade Italian dressing is just like you’d find in an Italian restaurant. In fact, we call it the Vegan Copycat Olive Garden salad. Drizzle with a generous portion of Creamy Italian Dressing you easily mix up in your kitchen. Make a big bowl because they will be asking for more!

glass bowl with Italian salad tossed with dressing

Eating Out Vegan

t’s sometimes hard to eat out vegan. Yes, restaurants are usually willing to accommodate – or have a particular vegan-friendly dish on the menu. But sometimes you just want the comforts of familiar foods.

If you do go to a particular chain restaurant…that serves Italian American chain restaurant food…(hint hint…Olive Garden!)… There isn’t much there a vegan can sink their teeth into. The minestrone soup works for us, as does the basic pasta with marinara. Unfortunately, there’s not much else.

Oh, except their famous salad. Sort of. You will need to ask for no croutons (boo) and basic oil and vinegar dressing (boo again). Read more about eating vegan at Olive Garden on Spoon University.

Luckily for us, if we are willing to cook at home, we can get the same traditional flavors we remember with veganized copycat recipes. For a complete vegan Italian restaurant-style meal you can make at home, try my Minestrone Soup, Pasta Bake, or Lasagna with Cashew Bechamel, and Bread Machine French Bread (coming soon). And of course, this copycat Italian Salad recipe!

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glass bowl with Italian salad tossed with dressing with pinterest text overlay

Ingredients needed to make copycat Olive Garden Italian Salad

For the salad

  • 5 cups romaine lettuce chopped
  • red onion sliced thin
  • Roma tomatoes 
  • pepperoncinis
  • pitted black olives

For the dressing

  • vegan mayonnaise
  • red wine vinegar
  • lemon juice
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • Italian seasoning blend
  • garlic powder
  •  vegan parmesan cheese
  • sea salt

For extra toppings

  • vegan croutons
  • vegan parmesan cheese shreds
  • freshly ground black pepper
ingredients needed to make Italian salad

How to make the best restaraunt qaulity Italian salad at home

Step 1: Prepare the veggies

Wash, dry, and cut the lettuce into bite-sized pieces. You will want to make sure the lettuce is very dry before using or you will have a soggy salad. I like to use a salad spinner – or you can really thoroughly pat dry.

Slice the red onion. The thinner the slices, the better. I peel the skin off of the onion, cut it into a half-moon shape and then slice thinly.

Prepare the other ingredients. Wash and slice the tomato. I like to slice my Roma tomatoes a little on the thick side. Drain and pat dry the peppers. Make sure the olives are pitted before using.

Place all of the prepared vegetables into a large bowl and toss to combine.

Step 2: Make the Italian dressing

I love this dressing because it is so creamy and flavorful. This is not an oil-free dressing. I am working on an oil-free creamy Italian salad dressing and will post it here when it is just right.

Juice the lemon if you are using fresh lemon. I tend to be a little lazy and use bottled lemon juice. Honestly, that works for this recipe because we have a lot of other flavors going on and bottled lemon juice is fine. If you want to juice your own lemon, you will need one large lemon. Consider using my favorite citrus juicer. It makes it almost as easy as opening a bottle.

juicing a lemon half on a citrus juicer

Place all of the ingredients for the salad dressing -except for the parmesan cheese – into a blender or small food processor.

I like to buy shredded vegan parmesan cheese for this copycat restaurant Italian Salad and think this is best. It makes it more authentic. If you are unable to find shredded vegan parmesan cheese, you could always sub in my cashew nut parmesan cheese, or for nut-free vegan parm, try this parmesan cheese recipe by Cooking on Caffeine.

Place the vegan mayo, red wine vinegar, lemon juice, olive oil, Italian seasoning, garlic powder, and salt into the blender and pulse until well blended and creamy. Add the vegan cheese and pulse lightly once more until mixed in.

You’ll have a nice creamy highly flavorful Italian salad dressing ready to toss in or drizzle on top.

Jar of italian dressing with peppers, red onion, and vegan shredded parm cheese in background

Step 3: mix it up!

Just add the croutons, drizzle the dressing, and toss. Add in some more croutons to taste and top with more shredded vegan parmesan cheese.

Read the ingredients on the back of your package of croutons to make sure they are vegan-compliant. The use of enzymes can be a concern if we don’t know the source. Also, look for dairy (common) and eggs (less common).

Many packages will say “made on equipment” or “processed in a facility” or even “may contain” dairy and eggs. This is a legal notice for common allergins and can be very serious if you do have an allergy. This does not mean that the product contains eggs or dairy. Let your personal ethics be your guide.

I am working on a vegan Italian crouton recipe and will post a link here when I have it just right. In the meantime, here are some easy crouton recipes you can make at home. Just make sure the bread you are using meets your ethics if you are vegan.

And now you’ve got a delicious authentic-tasting restaurant-style Italian salad to serve with your favorite vegan comfort food. This Italian salad recipe serves three generous dinner-sized portions or four to five side salads.

What to serve with this salad recipe

For some delicious vegan comfort food main courses that would be delicious served with this Italian salad, try:

glass bowl with Italian salad tossed with dressing

For some other delicious vegan salad recipes from Veggie Fun Kitchen

The printable recipe card for copycat Olive Garden Italian Salad

Did you love this recipe? Want to share the love? It would thrill me to no end if you could leave five ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ stars and even a comment. Did you know that this will help google to find this recipe when others are looking for something similar? Thanks, Cindy

glass bowl with Italian salad tossed with dressing

Restaurant Style Italian Salad with Homemade Italian Dressing, Vegan

This Italian salad recipe with homemade Italian dressing is just like you'd find in an Italian restaurant. In fact, we call it the Vegan Copycat Olive Garden salad. Drizzle with a generous portion of Italian Dressing you easily mix up in your kitchen. Make a big bowl because they will be asking for more!
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Course: Salad
Cuisine: American, Italian fusion
Keyword: copycat olive garden salad, Italian Salad
Prep Time: 17 minutes
Total Time: 17 minutes
Servings: 4
Calories: 279kcal
Author: Cindy Rainey

Equipment

  • blender

Ingredients

For the Salad

  • 5 cups romaine lettuce chopped
  • 1 small red onion sliced thin
  • 2-3 Roma tomatoes sliced
  • 8 pepperoncinis
  • cup pitted black olives

For the Dressing

  • ½ cup vegan mayonnaise
  • cup red wine vinegar
  • Tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • teaspoons Italian seasoning blend
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 Tablespoons vegan parmesan cheese
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt

For Topping

  • vegan croutons
  • vegan parmesan cheese shreds

Instructions

  • Wash, dry, and cut the lettuce into bite-sized pieces. Slice the red onion. Wash and slice the tomato. Drain and pat dry the peppers.
  • Place the prepared vegetables into a large bowl and toss to combine.
  • Juice the lemon if using fresh lemon.
  • Place all of the ingredients for the salad dressing -except for the parmesan cheese – into a blender or small food processor. Place the vegan mayo, red wine vinegar, lemon juice, olive oil, Italian seasoning, garlic powder, and salt into the blender and pulse until well blended and creamy. Add the vegan cheese and pulse lightly once more until mixed in.
  • Add the croutons, drizzle the salad dressing and toss well. Add more vegan parm and croutons if desired.

Notes

The croutons and extra vegan parm are not included in the nutritional information. 
This will serve 4 generous-sized portions.

Nutrition

Calories: 279kcal | Carbohydrates: 11g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 24g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4g | Sodium: 532mg | Potassium: 337mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 5489IU | Vitamin C: 29mg | Calcium: 42mg | Iron: 1mg
By on March 14th, 2022

About Cindy Rainey

Veggie Fun Kitchen by Cindy Rainey
Welcome to Veggie Fun Kitchen where you will learn to recreate family favorites the plant-based/vegan way! Let me know if I can help. I'm here for you.

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