Maggiano’s Italian House Salad

Years ago, Kate and I travelled quite a bit doing speaking engagements. On one long trek to Orlando, we both arrived fairly late, exhausted from traveling, and hungry. We ended up at Maggianos Italian restaurant and ordered appetizers and salads and caught up on life (we lived in separate states and rarely saw each other in person!) It was such a fun memory for both of us and with so many trips, one that both particularly stuck in our memories. When we got home, Kate found some copycat recipes for the house salad we loved and came up with this recipe she shared and it’s been a go-to favorite ever since. I love that there aren’t a lot of bells and whistles- it’s just a really great Italian style side salad with a super zippy dressing and so much flavor and texture from red onions, crumbled cheese, and bacon or prosciutto. You could also throw some grilled chicken or steak in this and make it a great one-dish dinner.

green salad in a white bowl with serving utinsels

Ingredient Notes

Dressing

  • Olive Oil – Light or pure for a milder flavor, extra-virgin if you want something a little more robust.
  • Red Wine Vinegar
  • Sugar
  • Oregano
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Garlic
  • Dijon Mustard

Salad

  • Iceberg Lettuce
  • Romaine Lettuce
  • Gorgonzola Cheese – If you’re not a fan of strong gorgonzola, you could sub blue cheese or feta as I have in my photos,
  • Red Onion
  • Prosciutto or Bacon – Thin sliced prosciutto (pan fried) or crumbled bacon. Both are delicious, so pick what you prefer!
pouring dressing on salad

How to Make Maggiano’s Italian House Salad

  1. You’ll want to make the dressing first so the flavors can mingle while you’re putting everything else together. In the jar of your blender, combine some red wine vinegar, Dijon mustard, white sugar, minced garlic, salt, and pepper. Blend until well-combined, then, with the blender running, add the oil in a steady stream. Turn off the blender, add the oregano, and pulse 2-3 times to incorporate, then set the dressing aside.
  2. Next you’ll slice, cook, and drain your prosciutto or bacon- you can definitely do this step ahead of time!
  3. To assemble the salad, place a mix of iceberg and romaine lettuce in a large salad bowl. Add the sliced red onion, crumbled Gorgonzola cheese and cooked bacon or prosciutto. Toss with the dressing until combined. I like to finish it off with a few more cracks of black pepper.
Salad in a white serving bowl

Frequently Asked Questions

I’ve never used prosciutto. How does it compare to American bacon?

You can think of the cooked prosciutto in this recipe as bacon’s sophisticated cousin. It’s usually thinner, with a salty and delicately sweet flavor. Both are delicious in this salad.

What does Gorgonzola cheese taste like?

Gorgonzola is a specific type of blue cheese. Gorgonzola is generally going to be a little milder and creamier than the blue cheese you’ll find in stores. If you’re not a fan of the flavor, a crumbly goat cheese or crumbled feta would be a good substitution.

Make it a Meal

This salad is a great side salad as is. If you’d like to give it a little extra umph and make it a meal, add some grilled chicken. It would be delicious with some toasted pecans or walnuts, or croutons as well.

green salad in a white serving bowl

Maggiano’s House Salad

A handful of simple and delicious ingredients makes this great side salad, good to pair with just about anything.
Prep Time 20 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Servings10 side salad servings

Ingredients

For the Dressing

  • cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon white sugar
  • teaspoons minced garlic
  • teaspoons kosher or coarse-grained salt
  • freshly ground pepper a few cracks, to taste
  • 1 cup olive or vegetable oil depending on your preference
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano

For the Salad

  • 5-6 cups chopped romaine lettuce
  • 5-6 cups chopped iceberg lettuce
  • 3 ounces Gorgonzola cheese
  • 4-6 ounces prosciutto or 4-6 ounces bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • 1 small red onion thinly sliced
  • about 1/2 cup vegetable oil for cooking the prosciutto

Instructions

  • To prepare the dressing, combine all the ingredients except for the oil in the jar of a blender. Blend until smooth, then, with the blender running on low speed, add the oil in a steady stream. Set aside at room temperature.
  • If using prosciutto, heat the vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, add the prosciutto and cook until brown and crispy. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on a paper towel. Set aside. If using bacon, cook and crumble using your favorite method (see notes for preferred method).
  • In a large bowl, toss the lettuce, cheese, onions, and crispy prosciutto. Drizzle desired amount of dressing on the salad and toss until combined. Serve immediately with additional dressing on the side, refrigerating any dressing leftovers.

Notes

  • My favorite way to cook bacon is in the oven. Line a baking sheet with foil and lay bacon strips in a single layer.  Bake at 400 for about 20 minutes (longer for thicker bacon) until desired doneness is achieved. Pull off and place on some folded paper towels to drain. 
  • As you can probably guess, once dressed, this salad needs to be eaten pretty quickly or it will wilt. If you need to plan ahead, you can make your dressing ahead of time and cook your prosciutto or bacon, just keep them stored in an airtight container in the fridge until ready to use. Slice your onion fresh, assemble your salad, and toss with the dressing right before serving.
  • The salad dressing in this recipe has been altered slightly from when it was originally posted. I’ve made some changes which I feel have improved the overall dressing. But if you were in love with the original dressing, here are the quantities from the previous version:
    • 1/3 cup red wine vinegar
    • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
    • 1 tablespoon white sugar
    • 1/2 cup water
    • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
    • 2 1/2 teaspoons kosher or course-grained salt
    • freshly ground pepper to taste
    • 1 cup olive or vegetable oil
    • 1 generous pinch dried oregano

Nutrition

Serving: 1cup, Calories: 185kcal, Carbohydrates: 3g, Protein: 3g, Fat: 18g, Saturated Fat: 5g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g, Monounsaturated Fat: 11g, Trans Fat: 0.01g, Cholesterol: 14mg, Sodium: 185mg, Potassium: 67mg, Fiber: 0.2g, Sugar: 2g, Vitamin A: 70IU, Vitamin C: 1mg, Calcium: 50mg, Iron: 0.2mg
Course: Salads
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: Maggiano’s House Salad
Calories: 185kcal
Cost: $12
Did You Make This Recipe?Snap a picture, and hashtag it #ourbestbites. We love to see your creations on our Instagram @ourbestbites!

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woman in denim shirt holding a salad bowl
Meet The Author

Sara Wells

Sara Wells co-founded Our Best Bites in 2008. She is the author of three Bestselling Cook Books, Best Bites: 150 Family Favorite RecipesSavoring the Seasons with Our Best Bites, and 400 Calories or Less from Our Best Bites. Sara’s work has been featured in many local and national news outlets and publications such as Parenting MagazineBetter Homes & GardensFine CookingThe Rachel Ray Show and the New York Times.

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Questions & Reviews

  1. I laughed out loud when I read your comment about your “hobbit dinner.” Actually I laughed twice, because I re read it and it was more funny the second time. I can totally relate 🙂 This salad sounds so good, especially with the crispy prosciutto!

  2. I made this tonight and it is AMAZING. I live in the Chicago area nearby several Maggiano’s and it has been a while since I’ve had their house salad. Now I’m tempted to go in and try it again, just to see if it stacks up to OBB salad. I really enjoyed the dressing and the whole thing was really PERFECTION! I used turkey bacon since I couldn’t locate prosciutto, and it worked just fine. I also threw a few croutons on top, and those were a good addition too 🙂

  3. Is there a brand of red wine vinegar that you prefer? I seem to always pick the wrong one LOL. Looking forward to trying your recipe!

    1. Not really, Diane. We just use normal grocery store varieties. That being said, we also don’t drink red wine, so maybe that’s why we’re not too picky about it, haha