Italian Combo Salad With Mortadella & Provolone

July  1, 2021
3 Ratings
Photo by Julia Gartland. Prop Stylist: Megan Hedgpeth. Food Stylist: Sam Seneviratne.
  • Prep time 15 minutes
  • Cook time 10 minutes
  • makes 1 big salad
Author Notes

You know what’s been holding back your sandwich? The bread. This salad takes everything you love about an Italian combo—the meat, the cheese, the pepperoncini—and piles it onto lightly dressed Little Gem lettuce for a fresh, crisp way to eat your favorite cured meats. Plus, we still get the bread, reborn as croutons.

I have heart eyes for mortadella, so here it’s on display in two ways: au naturel and fried until crunchy. Think of this salad as a fridge emptier; if it could go on a sandwich it can go in this salad. Dill pickles? Go for it! Shaved red onion? Why the hell not! Throw in as many other cold cuts as you’d like (think: pepperoni, salami, soppressata). The limit does not exist!

I like to pile the dressed Little Gem lettuce onto a large plate and separate the toppings into sections, allowing me to choose a different adventure with every bite. If you’re the type that likes to fully commit, toss the whole thing in a big bowl and dig in.

If you want another big salad (of course you do), check out my Big Fat Halloumi Salad and read more about how to make your own big salad creation here. —Sohla El-Waylly

What You'll Need
Watch This Recipe
Italian Combo Salad With Mortadella & Provolone
  • Mortadella salad
  • 2 slices (2 ounces) mortadella, divided
  • 2 slices (1 1/2 ounces) provolone, divided
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 thick bread slice, cut or torn into bite-size pieces
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 medium head Little Gem lettuce, torn into bite-size pieces
  • 1 small Persian cucumber, sliced and cut into half-moons
  • 1/4 cup sliced pepperoncini
  • 8 Castelvetrano olives, smashed, pitted, and torn
  • 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 ounce cured fennel salami, thinly sliced (optional)
  • Italian dressing
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar, plus more to taste
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon granulated sugar, plus more to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  1. Line a plate with paper towels. Thinly slice 1 slice of mortadella into 1/8-inch-thick strips. Heat a small nonstick or well-seasoned cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add the mortadella strips and cook, stirring and separating the strips with a rubber spatula, until the fat is rendered and the mortadella is brown and crisp, about 5 minutes. Transfer to the paper-towel-lined plate.
  2. In the same pan still over medium-high heat, add 1 slice of provolone cheese and cook until golden brown and crisp, about 1 minute. Flip and cook until the second side is golden brown and crisp, another minute. Place on the paper-towel-lined plate to drain, then break into bite-size pieces.
  3. Add the olive oil and bread to the pan (no need to clean it first) and toss to coat. Sprinkle with the salt and garlic powder, then toss. Cook, stirring and tossing constantly, until the cubes are golden brown and toasted, about 5 minutes.
  4. In a medium bowl, add all of the dressing ingredients and whisk until combined. Transfer 1 tablespoon of this dressing to a small bowl or glass.
  5. Add the lettuce and cucumber to the medium bowl and toss. Taste and add more salt, vinegar, or sugar as needed.
  6. Cut the remaining mortadella and provolone into 1/2-inch-thick strips and roll up each strip. Place the dressed lettuce mixture onto a large plate. Arrange the crisp and cold mortadella, crisp and cold provolone, pepperoncini, olives, tomatoes, salami if using, and croutons on top. Drizzle with the remaining dressing and serve right away.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • legnor
  • Ashley
  • jessandersonkaras
  • brushjl
Sohla El-Waylly is a Food52 Resident, sharing new riffable recipes every month that'll help you get creative in the kitchen. Watch her cook on YouTube in her new series, Off-Script With Sohla. Before she started developing fun recipes for home cooks, she worked as a chef in N.Y.C. and L.A., briefly owning a restaurant in Brooklyn with her husband and fellow chef, Ham El-Waylly. She lives in the East Village with Ham, their two dogs, and cat. Find out what else she's up to on Instagram @sohlae

5 Reviews

legnor June 28, 2023
This salad slaps! And Sola is amazing. I have been making this every summer since it was published and I am always impressed at how much bang you get for your buck on this one.
Ashley July 1, 2021
Such an amazing recipe! It was so well balanced in terms of tastes and textures. Plus the techniques - rolling sliced deli meats, crisping cheese - are things I'll apply to other dishes!
jessandersonkaras June 3, 2021
This salad is bananas - not literally - but it's just SO good & satisfying. It's become one of my go-to salad recipes and I like making extra to each for lunches later on. Thanks Sohla!
brushjl June 2, 2021
Wow, terrific salad. Loved the combination of tastes and textures.
maiolicagirl May 7, 2021
As far as I am concerned Sohla should have her own show or channel.