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Pizza Night Salad

Updated: Jul 18, 2023


Pizza night is a much anticipated event in our family. Typically a weekly affair, everyone looks forward to chowing down on their favorite pies: usually something a little spicy for Tobin and myself, but for my pizza purist sons it's just plain old cheese. Sure, we all get really excited for the 'za, but I get equally pumped for the big, crisp salad that always accompanies! Not just any old salad will do- it's gotta be crunchy, cold and colorful to balance the cheesy, carby main course. This "Pizza Night Salad" is just what I crave in tandem with my pizza pie!


Usually, I'll order pizzas from one of our favorite local pizzerias, but I truly enjoy making the side salad on my own. Chopping has always been a soothing practice for me, and this recipe definitely involves a lot of it! Other than a little extra knife work, this salad is straightforward and can easily be tweaked to feature more or less of your preferred ingredients. Throw in some cucumber if you like! Add some fresh basil! Give it a hearty boost with some chopped salami and/or cubed mozzarella! Yum to all of the above! Also, while this salad is designed as a pizza side, it can be so much more: you can make it a main course (by adding the salami and mozz i just mentioned) or it's delicious with any of your go to Italian inspired recipes.



I like to start with a "tricolore" base of sweet romaine, bitter radicchio and peppery arugula. Next, I go heavy with a bounty of delicous chopped toppings: cherry tomatoes, castelvetrano olives, artichoke hearts, chickpeas, pepperoncini peppers and thinly sliced red onion add flavor, texture and color to the lettuce base. (Red onion tip: slice it very thinly- use the mandolin if you're confident- and rinse in a small colander under cold water then pat dry to remove the bite. I'm not a fan of giant raw onion chunks, but do appreciate a ribbon thin allium here).


Once you assemble the salad (or even a few days beforehand), it's time to make the creamy parmesan dressing. This stuff is so good- be prepared to be addicted! The immersion blender is one of my BFFs when it comes to making salad dressings and sauces- I place all the ingredients besides the salt and pepper into a wide mouth jar or deli container, and then blend until smooth, creamy and emulsified. Season it up and then pour some over the salad when you're ready to serve- start with less and add more as needed. My favorite way to eat this salad? Folded inside my pizza slice, of course! The combo of crisp, fresh salad+cheesy, hot pizza never, ever gets old. Mangia!


 

prep time: ~25 min. cook time: 5 min. serves: 6


INGREDIENTS

1 large heart romaine, chopped

1/2 head radicchio, chopped

3-4 handfuls baby arugula

1 cup drained and rinsed chickpeas

1 cup roughly chopped drained artichoke hearts

1/2 cup chopped castelvetrano olives

1/2 cup sliced pepperoncini peppers

1 cup halved cherry tomatoes

1/4 of a small red onion, very thinly sliced (rinsed under cold water and patted dry for less bite)

dried oregano

kosher salt

ground black pepper

grated parmigiano reggiano


Creamy Parmesan Dressing:

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 tbsp dijon mustard

2 tbsp red wine vinegar

2 tbsp lemon juice

2 small garlic cloves, roughly chopped

1 tsp dried oregano

small pinch red pepper flakes to taste

1/3 cup grated parmigiano reggiano

1 tsp kosher salt

ground black pepper to taste

 

Place the romaine, radicchio and arugula in a large bowl. Top with the remaining salad ingredients and season with a bit more salt, pepper and dried oregano.


Place all the ingredients for dressing besides the salt and pepper into a small blender. Blend until creamy and smooth (you can also do in a wide mouth container with an immersion blender). Stir in the salt and pepper (to taste) and check for seasoning. (Can be made and stored in the fridge up to 3 days ahead).


Dress the salad with most of the dressing and toss to coat. Add more dressing as needed, as well as salt and pepper. Garnish with more parmesan and serve alongside your favorite pizza!

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