Friday, February 10, 2012

Recipe for Peperoncini Chopped Salad with Romaine, Red Bell Pepper, and Feta

Peperoncini Chopped Salad with Romaine, Red Bell Pepper, and Feta
This delicious chopped salad has red bell peppers, sliced peperoncini, and feta.

(For Phase One Fridays I highlight Phase One recipes from the past that have been my personal favorites.   This chopped salad with romaine lettuce, red bell pepper strips, sliced peperoncini, Feta cheese, and a dressing flavored with peperoncini brine is something I've made many times for Denny family parties since it first appeared on the blog in early 2010.)

Normally I have a routine where I try recipes, edit the photos, and add them to the list to be featured for the blog, but this salad with sliced Peperoncini, romaine, thinly sliced red bell pepper, and feta just cut right to the front of the line. The salad was a big hit when I made it for brunch at my sister Sandee's house, and I've made it twice since then for myself. What makes the flavors really rock in the salad (besides the slices of Peperoncini) is the addition of one tablespoon of Peperoncini brine to the dressing. If you like Peperoncini when you get them added to a restaurant salad, you'll definitely like this salad.

The recipe was inspired by Greek Italian Chopped Salad that I saw in The Bon Appetit Cookbook: Fast Easy Fresh, a huge book that's loaded with good recipe ideas. The original recipe didn't have Peperoncini, but when I read the ingredients I immediately thought it would be a nice addition. Besides romaine, red bell pepper, and feta, the original salad had garbanzos, sliced fennel, sliced red onion, and salami, so you could add any of those to my version if they appeal to you.

For months I eyed the big two-jar packs of peperoncini at Costco and wondered how I could use them, other than just tossing a few into a salad. Then one day they jumped into my cart, and ended up being the inspiration for this salad.

Make the dressing first so the flavors have a chance to blend together while you prep the other ingredients.

To prep the Peperoncini, cut off the stem end, then squeeze out the seeds and cut into sliced about 1/2 inch thick. You can use more or less sliced Peperoncini to taste; I used about 1 cup in a salad to serve 6.

I just wanted a hint of red bell pepper, because it can be a strong flavor in a salad. I used half a red bell pepper, and cut it into thin strips. Again, you could use more if you prefer.

Chop or tear the romaine lettuce into bite-sized pieces, then spin dry in the salad spinner, or dry with paper towels.

I used a generous half cup of crumbled feta, which didn't seem that outrageous for 6 servings of salad. (I forgot to take a photo of the finished salad tossed together in the bowl, but hopefully you can imagine how colorful it was!)

Peperoncini Chopped Salad with Romaine, Red Bell Pepper, and Feta
(Makes about 6 generous servings, recipe inspired by Greek Italian Chopped Salad from The Bon Appetit Cookbook: Fast Easy Fresh, with lots of adaptations by Kalyn.)

Dressing Ingredients:
1 tsp. dried oregano (use Greek oregano if you have it)
1/2 tsp minced garlic
3 T white wine vinegar
1 T Peperoncini brine (from the jar of Peperoncini)
6 T extra-virgin olive oil
salt and fresh-ground black pepper to taste (I didn't use much salt)

Salad Ingredients:
4-6 cups chopped or torn romaine lettuce, washed and dried
1 cup sliced Peperoncini
1/2 red bell pepper, cut in short, thin slices
1/2 cup crumbled Feta cheese (I used my favorite Feta cheese)

Put dried oregano and minced garlic in a small bowl and mash together with a fork or mortar. Add the white wine vinegar, Peperoncini juice, and salt and pepper to taste and stir together. Whisk in olive oil about 2 tablespoons at a time until dressing is well emulsified. Let dressing sit so flavors can blend while you prep other ingredients.

Cut or tear romaine lettuce into bite-sized pieces and wash and dry with salad spinner (or wash lettuce in a colander and dry with paper towels.) Cut stem end from each Peperoncini, squeeze out the seeds and discard, and slice Peperoncini into slices about 1/2 inch thick. Cut red bell pepper in half, cut out seeds and pepper membranes, then slice the pepper into slices about 1/4 inch wide and a few inches long. Crumble enough Feta cheese to measure 1/2 cup.

Put the lettuce into a large salad bowl and toss with desired amount of dressing. (If you use 4 cups of lettuce, you may not need all the dressing.) Add Peperoncini strips, red bell pepper strips, and crumbled Feta cheese and toss again. Season salad to taste with salt and fresh ground black pepper and serve immediately. (I didn't add any salt at the end but did season with a generous amount of fresh-ground black pepper.)

The three times I've made this salad so far, it was all devoured immediately, so I don't know how well it would keep overnight in the fridge, but I'd guess it's best freshly made.

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South Beach Suggestions:
One reason I was inspired to buy two big jars of Peperoncini is because it's such a wonderfully South Beach Diet friendly ingredient. Everything in the recipe is a low-glycemic ingredient, making it suitable for any phase of the South Beach Diet. Low-fat feta is recommended for South Beach, but I've never been able to find it here, and my favorite Feta cheese has 8 grams of fat per ounce, so I try to use it with lots of other fresh ingredients that don't contain fat.

More Tasty Salads with Feta Cheese:
(Recipes from other blogs may not always be South Beach Diet friendly; check ingredients.)
Green Bean Salad with Greek Olives and Feta Cheese from Kalyn's Kitchen
Spinach Salad with Marinated Garbanzo Beans and Feta Cheese from Kalyn's Kitchen
Salad with Asparagus, Cherry Tomatoes, Kalamata Olives, and Feta from Kalyn's Kitchen
Joanne Weir's Cucumber and Feta Salad from David Lebovitz
Lentils and Feta Salad from Dhangitt's Kitchen
Chicken Cabbage Salad with Feta from Anne's Food
Green Peach Salad with Feta from [No Recipes]
Pea Tendrils Salad with Radishes and Feta Cheese from Sidewalk Shoes
(Want even more recipes? I find these recipes from other blogs using Food Blog Search.)

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  1. This is such a great idea - the use of pepperoncini and the brine. I have the bell pepper too. Perhaps I'll do a chopped salad instead with some radishes and carrots... Hmmm...

  2. Yum! I just love Pepperoncini, it is my favorite thing about going to Quiznos! I bet this salad would be amazing stuffed into a pita with hummus.

  3. Sounds like I'm not the only Peperoncini lover out there! I love the idea of eating this in a pita with hummus. The variations are endless.

  4. WOW... so you have had this every day since easter... a great recommendation

    love the use of the brine

  5. Looks delicious and I will have to try it with the peperoncini! Never thought about that and love the feta!

  6. I've never thought of putting peperoncini in salads. My husband loves them, so I'll definitely give this a try. Thanks for the great idea!

  7. 1) I LOVE pepperoncini and often eat them straight from the jar for an anytime snack.
    2) I just left a comment on Lydia's blog telling her we're on a salad kick again due to the rising temps (her Miso dressing recipe). This recipe will come in perfect as well!

    Thanks so much for sharing (it has all our favorite ingredients)!

  8. They jumped into your cart? That sounds like everything at Costco. Everything is begging to get out of the store and before you know it, you have a full cart. It's a terrible place.

    Brilliant idea with the brine in the dressing. Such a great way to use up the whole product. Nice work.

  9. I used to eat pepperoncini by the gallons! I am going to try this for my next salad; adding a bit of their juice to the dressing is clever~

  10. Could Verjus Blanc be substitued for the White Wine Vinegar in this recipe? I bought a bottle of it and don't find many recipes that use it. If it can be, that would open up some uses.

  11. Year on the Grill, actually I had it for lunch and dinner on Easter and again for dinner on Monday. Good stuff!

    Pam, I love the combo of Feta and peperoncini!

    Kath, I bet he's going to like it then!

    Sandie, I eat them right out of the jar too. Lucky you to have rising temperatures! Still have snow here.

    Rookie Cookie, yes Costco is a dangerous place, but I like to live dangerously. The juice was so great in this dressing.

    Tasteofbeiruit, thanks. I have no idea what made me think of it, but it was great in the dressing!

    Merle, I think verjus would be quite a bit less sour than the white wine vinegar, but it would probably taste okay. Try it and see what you think.

  12. oh wow, looks delicious! i love pepperoncini in salads I assemble at salad bars at work but don't know why, I never thought of adding it at home. thanks for the wonderful idea.

  13. I love salty and delicious. Especially with the feta. Definitely a winner.

  14. I love the idea of adding the brine to the dressing! For some reason, it never occurs to me to buy peperoncini, but every time I eat it at a restaurant, I thoroughly enjoy the flavor.

  15. I love chopped salads. I usually don't have pepperoni on hand but will sometimes buy a couple of thin slices of salami and chop that. Black olive slices would be great in this too.

    Love the pepperocini in the salad AND the dressing. Gives it that extra zip!

  16. I've never had Pepperoncini (don't think we get it over here...) but it sure sounds amazing. In fact, sounds very similar to a local product we have - Peppadew. I'm quite keen to try it like that!

  17. PJ, I always get them on salad bars too! I think they'll keep forever in the fridge so I'm looking forward to experimenting with them more.

    Sarah, thanks.

    Joanne, it was really good with the feta!

    Dara, no idea how I thought of it, but that touch of brine in the dressing was key to the success of this recipe.

    Marisa, I've had pappadew and I think the flavor would be quite similar. Hope you will try it like that!

  18. Oh good! I love hearing that.

  19. Yum - I think this is a new favorite salad in our house! We subbed some sliced roma tomato for the red pepper because that's what was in the veggie bin. Love the dressing! I could see it making an awesome marinade for chicken too! Delish. BTW, I get low-fat feta at Trader Joe's - in case anyone it looking for it. They have FF feta too, but the low-fat tastes better to me (less rubbery!) ~Alice

  20. bwalice, I bet tomato would be great in this. Unfortunately, no Trader Joe's in Utah, sigh.

  21. I love a good greek salad smooshed between a pita, and this sounds like the perfect one! Thanks so much for sharing!!

  22. Three Haute Mamas, I do think this would be great in pita. Glad you like it.

  23. I love this simple salad packed with flavor. Healthy too!

  24. MR, thanks! Definitely a hit in my family.

  25. I tweeked it a bit, but this was one of the best salads I have ever had! Thanks!
    (My tweeks.... parmesan instead of feta, and added green onions and pepperoni.) Feta would probably have been even better, but it was a cost thing.

  26. Laura, so glad you liked it and I think your tweaks sound delicious!

  27. I've been away too long. I'm a sucker for anything with pepperocinis or feta.
    Kalyn- I bet you already have 100 riffs on this salad. ;-)

  28. Debby, glad you like it.

    CJ, there are so many great variations for this salad. I use tomatoes a lot in the summer when I have them in my garden.

  29. I LOVE pepperonici - this is calling my name!

    1. Deborah, my nieces and nephews ask for it pretty much for every family party!

  30. Yum yum yum! I'm one week in and 7 pounds down on South Beach (woo hoo), and I've gotten almost all of my recipes from your website. So glad I saw this before I grocery shop for the week :). BTW, I'm a Denny too, and have never met another one (except DENNEY)nbesides known family. Funny! Does everyone ask you if you own the restaurant?

    1. Kendra, way to go and fun hearing from a Denny! And yes, occasionally people ask me if my family owns the restaurant.

  31. Love peperoncinis! This looks great!

  32. I've looked up these peppers on Wiki. If they are Italian they have a bit of heat. If they're Greek
    they're sweet. Which one is better for this salad?

    1. Barb, I don't use the seeds, but even without them the peperoncini I buy are a little spicy.


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