Everything you love about a classic grinder salad sandwich but served antipasto style as a decadent yet simple salad.
If you’ve spent any time on social media, then you may have noticed that certain recipes have been going viral on TikTok and Instagram.
I’ve already recreated the delicious smoked queso and this easy smoked cream cheese recipe (both viral recipes), but I really felt called to make my own antipasto salad modeled after the Italian American sandwich dubbed “the grinder”.
Sub sandwiches have always been one of my top five favorite foods, and turning them into salads has also been a healthier passion project of mine (see this deconstructed sub salad recipe or my shrimp po boy salad that has been popular on my site for several years for example).
While you can make this into a traditional sandwich, I wanted to keep it a little lower carb and serve it up salad style instead.
This salad packs a punch of delicious flavors using shredded lettuce, classic deli meats, shredded cheese, and the perfect dressing to tie it all together.
Grab all the details for making this simple Italian sandwich into the perfect dinner salad.
- Knife & Cutting Board
- Large Bowl
- Small Bowl
- Measuring Spoons
- Serving Platter (optional)
Welcome to my virtual classroom! Use the guided notes below where I often answer commonly asked questions I get from readers and cooks just like you.
This information is meant to help you have a stronger understanding of this recipe and the process so you can find success all on your own.
Ready to begin cooking? Simply jump to the recipe below and begin.
What Is The Origin Of Italian Grinder Sandwiches?
In order to understand how this salad came to be, you need to learn more about the sandwich it was inspired by.
This sandwich was first hailed from the New England area of the United States. It was said that the bread that this typical Italian sub was built on was so dense and hard to bite through that it would make you “grind” your teeth (getting the grinder name).
Today this enormous sandwich also goes by other common names such as the Italian Combo.
You see a variety of these at most sub shops where they are packed with lots of meat, cheese, sliced tomato, and a tangy salad mix topped on a long crusted bread roll.
Grinder Salad Ingredients:
The following ingredients are what you need to build out this antipasto salad-
- Variety of Meats (I used genoa salami, capicola, prosciutto)
- Roasted Turkey Slices
- Provolone Cheese (or Colby / pepper jack/ mozzarella cheese works well too)
- Shredded Romaine Lettuce (I prefer heartier lettuce than iceberg but use what you like)
- Tomato Slices
- Red Onion
- Banana Peppers
Salad Dressing Ingredients:
- Olive Oil
- Red Wine Vinegar
- Garlic Paste or Minced Garlic
- Parmesan Cheese
- Red Pepper Flakes
- Salt and Black Pepper
What is an Italian Grinder Salad:
Let’s break down a few key points about this salad so we’re all on the same page. The original recipe for a grinder sandwich does also have a lettuce mixture on it that many refer to as the “grinder salad”.
Not to be confused with the fact that I am just making all the ingredients (including the tomato, cheese, and cold cuts) into an entire salad itself instead of a sub sandwich.
The grinder salad portion of the sandwich, however, does make up the base of this recipe instead.
It’s a mixture of shredded lettuce (usually shredded iceberg lettuce), red onion, banana peppers, or pepperoncini peppers, and the dressing.
It’s mixed and added to a hoagie roll but in this case, builds up the main base of this salad instead.
Grinder Salad Assembly:
- Start by combining all the dressing ingredients in the small mixing bowl to create the perfect creamy Italian dressing. Once mixed, set it aside.
- Shred your lettuce into thin pieces and place it in a large mixing bowl. Add the thinly sliced onions and diced or sliced pepperoncini or banana peppers.
- To the lettuce base, add the creamy mayo dressing and toss so it is evenly combined and coated. Place it on the base of a large platter.
- Use a serrated knife to thinly slice a large beef steak tomato and place the slices over the top of the grinder salad lettuce mixture.
- Use the chiffonade method, roll up the turkey and other types of meat, and thinly slice into pieces. Grate our own cheese and set it all aside.
- Over the top of the salad and tomatoes, add your meats and cheese. Garnish with a little salt, pepper, and chili flakes if desired.
Serving and Storing:
Here are a few important tips for serving and storing this salad-
- If you don’t plan on eating this salad right away or want to use it for meal prep, leave the dressing off.
- Mix the dressing right before serving to prevent it from getting too soggy.
- Serve with hoagie bun croutons if you prefer the bread as an option but still want a creamy salad as a meal.
- Pair with crunchy potato chips or a side of soup (like this langoustine bisque) for a next level meal.
Love salads? Check out these 10+ healthy salad recipes we love!
Grinder Salad Recipe
Grinder Salad Ingredients
- 1 head Green Leaf Lettuce shredded
- 1/2 small Red Onion sliced thin
- 1/2 cup Pepperocinis or Banana Peppers sliced into rings
- 4 oz Salami sliced thin
- 4 oz Capricola sliced thin
- 4 oz Proscioutto sliced thin
- 4 oz Roasted Turkey sliced thin
- 4 oz Provolone shredded
- 1 Beef Steak Tomato thinly sliced
Grinder Salad Dressing
- 1/2 cup Mayo
- 1/4 cup Olive Oil
- 2 tsp Red Wine Vinegar
- 1/2` cup Grated Parmesan
- 1 tsp Red Pepper Flakes
- 1 tsp Oregano
- 1 tsp Salt
- 1 tsp Black Pepper
Grinder Salad Dressing
- Combine all the salad dressing ingredients into a small mixing bowl and whisk thoroughly.
Grinder Salad Assembly
- Take the head of lettuce and slice it thinly and place it in a large mixing bowl.
- Add the pepperoncini's and the onions to the bowl. The pour the dressing over the lettuce mixture and toss until combine.
- Place the lettuce mixture onto a platter and set it aside.
- Use a serrated knife and thinly slice the tomatoes and layer over the top of the lettuce mixture.
- Next, prep the deli meats. Roll each piece then thinly slice it into strips until all of the meat is sliced. Pile it over the tomatoes.
- Add some extra salt, pepper, and red pepper flaked over the deli meats as a garnish.
- You can toss the entire salad or serve layered and enjoy!