The first half of my life was spent avoiding salad and all salad adjacent things with a fervor that I now find laughable; if only I’d known that salad is so much more than a big bowl of lettuce! Caesar salad was my first real foray into my salad-eating adulthood, which is a bit ironic (see: anchovies) but also predictable (see: crouton to lettuce ratio). Nowadays, I eat salads of all sorts, so when the idea for this pizza salad came up, I was more than happy to jump in and work on getting the flavor and feeling of pizza in a salad.
What Is Pizza Salad?
Pizza salad is what happens when you take all the best pizza toppings and use lettuce (as opposed to crust) as a vehicle to get those toppings from plate to mouth. I opted to use a mix of lettuces for both flavor and texture, and upped the pizza vibes with a vinaigrette that incorporates tomato paste, dried oregano, and garlic powder.
While the recipe below uses a set of specific, popular toppings with something for everyone, the recipe is as variable and adaptable as both pizza and salad themselves. Here are some fun ideas to play with to make this recipe your own:
- Add some spice with a pinch of chile flakes or sliced pepperoncini
- Swap the fresh mozzarella balls for shredded mozzarella cheese
- Leave out the pepperoni to make it vegetarian
- Add your favorite croutons or serve with garlic bread instead of breadsticks
- Swap the tomato paste in the vinaigrette for leftover marinara sauce
- Add spinach in lieu of some iceberg or romaine lettuce
- Add halved cherry tomatoes
- Add your personal favorite pizza toppings like green olives, canned or thinly sliced button mushrooms, anchovies, crisped up sausage or bacon bits
Can I Make This Salad Ahead?
As with most salads, this one is best served right away, but if you want to make it ahead to save yourself a bit of time later, you can. Here’s how:
- Make the dressing as outlined and keep it stored in the fridge in the airtight container or jar for up to 3 days. Shake it really well before using.
- Add all the salad ingredients to a large bowl, keeping the lettuces on top. Do not mix. Cover with plastic and keep in the fridge for up to 1 day.
- When ready to serve, toss the salad with the dressing.
More Ways to Play With Pizza
- Cheeseburger Pizza
- Heart-Shaped Pepperoni Pizza
- Pizza Casserole
- 3-Ingredient Pizza Beans
- Skillet Tortilla Pizza
Make the dressing:
Add the red wine vinegar, tomato paste, Dijon mustard, salt, pepper, sugar, dried oregano,garlic powder and olive oil to a resealable jar or airtight container. Shake really well to combine. Taste and season with more salt, pepper and sugar as desired; it should be a very flavorful, emulsified vinaigrette.
Prepare the salad ingredients:
Add pepperoni, mozzarella cheese, black olives, red onion, bell pepper and both lettuces to a large bowl.
Toss and serve:
Once ready to serve, shake the dressing really well once more. Add about half to the bowl with the salad and toss until everything is well and evenly coated. Add more dressing if desired, and keep the rest in the jar in the fridge for up to 3 days. Top the salad with grated Parmesan cheese and serve immediately with warm breadsticks on the side.
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