Garbage Salad Recipe


Garbage Salad Recipe

This Chicago style garbage salad is the perfect recipe for a crowd.

Garbage Salad with Vinaigrette Dressing
Garbage Salad with Vinaigrette Dressing

For a salad recipe you can easily throw together in a matter of minutes, this Garbage Salad with Vinaigrette Dressing is the perfect choice. This easy salad recipe get its name because you can use whatever ingredients you happen to have on hand -- things that are perhaps close to their expiration date, which you would be throwing away soon and would like to put to good use instead. This recipe mimics the style of an Italian antipasti salad, which is why the homemade vinaigrette dressing pairs so perfectly as a flavor accent.

Tips for Making Garbage Salad

-This makes a large salad perfect for a summer picnic or large gathering. The name “Garbage” comes from the concept of pulling things from the crisper and pantry, so use whatever is at hand. The ingredients here are similar to an Italian anti-pasta salad so it pairs well with a simple Italian salad dressing, but you may use whatever you have on hand or what your diners like best.

-To toss this salad, hands are the best tool! Reach down into the bowl and bring up handfuls and gently let it fall through your fingers a few times as you add dressing in two batches – it should coat every piece but there should be no extra dressing in the bottom so use less than you think and toss more than you think!

-Cutting lettuce with a knife is quicker but causes the edges of the greens to turn brown. Tearing into bite-size pieces with your fingers will keep this from happening and is preferable if the salad is not going to be served immediately.

-If you are making this ahead:  Combine ½ cup vinaigrette dressing with the ingredients except lettuces in the salad bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and chill.  Keep washed and torn lettuces wrapped in a damp towel in the refrigerator until just before serving, then add them to the bowl and add additional dressing as desired.


Preparation Time10 min

Cooking Time5 min



  • 8 cups chopped ice berg lettuce (1 large head)
  • 8 cups chopped Romaine lettuce (1 large head)
  • 2 tomatoes, diced
  • 4 ounces Genoa salami, cut into x 1-1/2 strips
  • 4 ounces Provolone cheese, cut into x 1-1/2 strips
  • 1 (16-ounce) jar pepperoncini, well drained, stemmed and sliced in half lengthwise
  • 1 (14-ounce) can artichoke hearts, well drained and cut into quarters
  • 14 ounces can hearts of palm, well drained and cut into slices
  • 1 (7-ounce) jar whole roasted red peppers, well drained and cut into strips
  • 1 (5-3/4-ounce) can pitted black olives or pimento olives, roughly chopped
  • Vinaigrette dressing or Italian dressing (see note)
  • Vinaigrette Dressing
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 1 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon type mustard
  • 1 teaspoon very finely minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon fresh basil, cut into fine pieces or 1 teaspoon dry basil
  • salt and pepper

Garbage Salad Recipe

To Make the Salad

  1. Place all salad ingredients into a very large bowl and gently mix to incorporate all of the items. Drizzle with cup dressing and mix again, tossing very well. Add another cup dressing or as needed and toss gently. Serve immediately.

To Make the Vinaigrette

  1. Place all ingredients into a pint jar and close tightly. Shake vigorously to mix and shake again just before pouring over the salad. Store any unused dressing in the refrigerator for later use.

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I love the reasoning behind this salad...and I can definitely relate to having stuff leftover in the fridge and having no clue what to do with it. I've never really made my own dressing but this vinaigrette recipe sounds delicious and I love that it has mustard in it.You can even add pasta and substitute the lettuce for spinach if you wanted to. The possibilities are actually limitless.

I hope you have a big salad bowl because this salad is huge, not only in size but in flavor. The hardy ingredients make this a truly perfect side dish when pared with with pizza or pasta, or a satisfying lunch, served with delicious crispy Italian bread. Winter, Summer, Spring or Fall, this Garbage Salad has it all.


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