Insalata Mista is a classic Italian salad that is simple, refreshing, and versatile. It consists of greens, layered with vegetables, and a light dressing, making it a healthy and delicious addition to any meal. The vibrant salad is easy to make and packed with flavor. It makes an easy side dish, main meal, or a nutritious addition to your party buffet.
For more simple and healthy recipes, check out my crustless pumpkin quiche, German pasta salad, and beetroot feta salad as well.
What is Insalata Mista?
Insalata Mista means “mixed salad” in Italian. It is a classic Italian salad dish that typically includes a variety of fresh greens, vegetables, and sometimes meats or cheeses.
Italian cuisine is known for fresh, simple ingredients so it’s no surprise that this salad has long been a staple of their cuisine. The ingredients of the salad can vary depending on the region of Italy and the season but typically include a combination of greens such as lettuce, arugula, and spinach, as well as vegetables like tomatoes, cucumbers, and olives.
Why you’ll love this recipe
- Quick and easy to prepare
- Extremely versatile
- Suitable as a side or main dish and for sharing
- Greens – Baby spinach leaves at extra nutrition and flavor to the salad but traditionally lettuce or arugula are used to make Insalata Mista.
- Cucumber – English cucumber pieces add freshness and texture to the salad.
- Red onion – Thinly sliced red onion gives this salad depth of flavor and another color dimension.
- Pomegranate – These juicy arils not only add extra texture and flavor to the salad, but they’re also rich in antioxidants and other nutrients.
- Walnuts – Walnut pieces add extra crunch and healthy fats.
- Feta – Crumbed feta cheese rounds out the salad with its salty and tangy taste.
- Wash and dry the greens.
- Chop and portion off other ingredients.
- Prepare the vinaigrette.
- Assemble the salad.
- Thoroughly dry the spinach leaves or the vinaigrette will be watered down and loses its flavor.
- Tailor it to your taste: Swap or omit any main ingredient to suit your taste.
- Whisk the vinaigrette vigorously until it starts to emulsify. You can also add the ingredients into a lidded jar and shake it vigorously.
- Don’t overdress the salad. Insalata Mista is best when lightly dressed, so the flavors of the ingredients can shine through.
Insalata Mista is a versatile salad that can be served as a side dish or a main course. Here are a few serving suggestions:
- Side dish / appetizer: Insalata Mista pairs well with a variety of main dishes, such as grilled chicken, fish, or steak. It can also be served with pasta or pizza for a complete Italian meal.
- Main course: Add some protein to the salad, such as grilled shrimp, prosciutto, or chicken, to make it a satisfying meal on its own.
- To share: Insalata Mista is a colorful and refreshing addition to any party or gathering. Serve it in a large bowl or platter and let guests help themselves.
Insalata Mista is enjoyable all year around as it can easily be adapted to include seasonal ingredients.
Here are some seasonal variation ideas:
|Summer||Tomatoes, basil, cucumbers, peppers, red onion, olives, parmesan shavings|
|Fall||Roasted squash, beets, apples, pears, walnuts, goat cheese|
|Winter||Citrus fruits, pomegranate seeds, walnuts, endive|
|Spring||Asparagus, peas, radishes, watercress, mint, feta cheese, pine nuts|
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Insalata Mista is best eaten fresh, so try to consume it within a day or two of preparing it. Place the salad in an airtight container before adding the vinaigrette and store it in the fridge.
- 4 cups baby spinach
- 1/2 English cucumber
- 1 red onion
- 1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
- 1/4 cup walnut pieces
- 1/2 cup feta cheese
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/8 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/8 tsp ground pepper
- The first step to preparing Insalata Mista is to wash and dry 4 cups baby spinach. Dry the leaves thoroughly to prevent the dressing from becoming watered down. Use a salad spinner or pat the greens dry with paper towels.4 cups baby spinach
- Peel 1/2 English cucumber and chop it into bite-sized pieces. Remove the outer layer of 1 red onion and cut it into thin slices. Portion off 1/4 cup walnut pieces and 1/2 cup feta cheese.1/2 English cucumber, 1 red onion, 1/2 cup feta cheese, 1/4 cup walnut pieces
- To remove 1/2 cup pomegranate seeds, cut off the top with a sharp knife. Place the pomegranate in a bowl of water and gently break it apart, allowing the seeds to sink to the bottom and the pith to float to the top for easier separation.1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
- To make the oil and vinegar vinaigrette, combine 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil and 1/8 cup balsamic vinegar in a small bowl. Add 1/4 tsp salt and 1/8 tsp ground pepper and whisk everything together with a fork until it starts to emulsify.1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, 1/8 cup balsamic vinegar, 1/4 tsp salt, 1/8 tsp ground pepper
- To assemble the Insalata Mista as a side dish, place a handful of baby spinach leaves in the bottom of each bowl. Add the cucumber pieces, followed by the red onion slices, pomegranate ariels, crumbed feta, and walnut pieces. Add a drizzle of vinaigrette to the salad and serve immediately.