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Insalata Mista Recipe

by , on
Jan 22, 2023

This recipe for an easy insalata mista is perfect for every night, but especially with grilled meat, pasta, or soup. I also share what I learned about olive oil while visiting an olive oil producer in Tuscany.

Insalata mista is simply ‘mixed salad’ in Italian. During our recent trip to the Amalfi Coast and Tuscany, we enjoyed an insalata mista or an insalata verde (green salad) at just about every meal.

Fresh, crisp lettuce combined with fresh tomatoes, thinly sliced cucumbers, red onions, and carrots for a simple and refreshing salad. Adding olives, pepperoncini, shaved basil, ricotta salata, or shaved parmesan would add a little extra oomph to our salads.

A bowl of salad on a ptable.

The vinaigrette for insalata mista is traditionally just good-quality olive oil, red wine vinegar, salt, and freshly ground black pepper. It is a light and tangy dressing.

Insalata Mista is the perfect accompaniment to this Tuscan White Bean Soup. Just add a nice crusty bread and you have the perfect meal.

a little about olive oil (well, maybe a lot about olive oil!)

One day while we were staying in Florence, we took a little ride just outside the city into the Chianti region and visited the Vineyards of Torcibrencoli. This family-run winery grows grapes and olives on land that has been in the Pini – Bucciolini since the 16th century.

A large green field with trees in the background

There’s nothing fancy about their operation, it is truly a family-run business, and we were treated to lunch and a wine tasting in their home at the end of the tour. If you find yourself in the area, I highly recommend the tour/experience through Airbnb. It was just a lovely tour/visit.

We did another winery tour in the Tuscany area while there, too. While the other tour was very nice and interesting, you felt like you were touring a business. With this tour, you felt you were visiting friends or family. It was a completely different experience.

Anyway, this was my long-winded wind-up to talking about olive oil. I learned from this visit to Torcibrencoli that olive oil is typically a combination of several different olives. There are two types of olives; self-pollinators and cross-pollinators. While self-pollinators don’t ‘need’ help from other trees to produce olives, their yield is typically improved by having cross-pollinators around.

Cross-pollinators need pollination from other compatible olive trees to produce olives. Pollination typically comes from the wind and insects but can also be manual.

What I found very interesting is that olive oils from the same farm can taste different yearly because the environmental conditions change constantly. If it is an especially wet spring and the olives that need to be cross-pollinated don’t get pollinated, the olive oil will be more heavily made of the self-pollinating olives.

Shortly after we arrived back home, our box of nine bottles of wine and three bottles of olive oil arrived from Torcibrencoli. The wine is all gone, but I’m still rationing the olive oil.

extra-virgin and virgin olive oil

Olives are crushed and mechanically pressed by a stone mill or metal grinder at room temperature (cold-pressed) within 24 – 48 hours of harvest. No heat or chemical interventions are permitted. At this point, the olive oil is tasted by an Internation Olive Council ‘official’ to determine its quality.

It will be deemed Extra Virgin Olive oil if its acidity level is less than or equal to .8 percent, no processes other than mechanical were used to extract the olive oil, and the only other processes that the olives endured were washing, decanting, centrifuging, and filtration. If the acidity is between 0.8 and 2.0, it is graded as Virgin Olive Oil.

Light Olive Oil is produced after the first press; when heat is applied to the remaining crushed olives. Because heat was applied, Light Olive Oil is a refined oil.

EVOO is characterized by its fruity, herby, sharp, and slightly bitter taste. You should taste the olive. Contrary to some thought, the color of the olive oil is not a characteristic of olive oil grade, one way or the other.

So…with that brief ‘all about olive oil’ interlude, let’s chat a little more about this Insalata Mista recipe.

Tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots, and onions sliced on a cutting board.

what are the common ingredients in insalata mista

  • The Greens Common green in Insalata Mista are a mix of romaine, arugula, curly endive, butterhead lettuce, and radicchio.
  • Tomato
  • Cucumber, thinly sliced
  • Red Onion, thinly slice
  • Carrots, shaved with a vegetable peeler or thinly sliced.
  • Cheese Parmesan (shaved with a vegetable peeler) or Ricotta Salata (chunks or sliced)
  • Red Wine Vinaigrette
  • Pepperoncini (optional)
  • Olives (optional)
  • Fresh Basil Leaves (optional)
A close-up of a bottle of red wine vinegar and olive oil.

how to make insalata mista for a crowd

This recipe makes enough salad for four people. If you will be entertaining more, consider the following guideline to make sure that you have enough for everyone:

  • Greens – 1 cup (2.5 ounces) per person
  • Additional Vegetables – 1/2 cup (4 ounces) per person
  • Dressing/Vinaigrette – 2 tablespoons per person
White bowl with Insalata Mista and peper being ground over salad.

Insalata Mista

Yield: 6 cups
Prep Time: 7 minutes
Total Time: 7 minutes

A light and crisp salad made with a mix of greens, tomatoes, thinly sliced carrots, celery, and onion and topped with olive oil and red wine vinegar vinaigrette. Add pepperoncini, basil, olives, parmesan, or ricotta salata to make your salad even more special.

Ingredients

  • 4 cups lightly packed fresh mixed greens. Consider a mix of romaine, radicchio, arugula, red and green leaf lettuce.
  • 1-2 carrots, peeled and then cut in rounds or shaved with vegetable peeler
  • 1 cucumber, thinly sliced in rounds
  • 1/4- 1/2 red onion, cut into thin rounds
  • 2-3 small to medium tomatoes
  • Parmesan cheese, shaved with vegetable peeler or crumbled Ricotta Salata
  • Black or green olives (optional)
  • Fresh basil leaves, torn (optional)
  • Pepperoncini (optional)

Simple Red Wine Vinaigrette

  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano or Italian seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon honey (can sub maple syrup)
  • 1 clove minced garlic (optional)
  • 3/4 cup good quality olive oil

Instructions

For Insalata Mista

  1. Tear your lettuce into bite size pieces and place in a large bowl.
  2. Combine all ingredients in your salad bowl.
  3. Dress with red wine vinaigrette.

For Red Wine Vinaigrette

  1. Combine wine, oregano, honey, salt, and pepper.
  2. Whisk in olive oil until well combined.

Notes

Store vinaigrette in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator

Did you make this recipe?

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Salad in a bowl.

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