Pizza Night Salad

Created by Laura Wright
5 from 88 votes

This pizza night salad is the perfect side to go with a pizza dinner. Crisp and finely chopped romaine, radicchio, cucumber, tomato, red onion, chickpeas, sun dried tomatoes, olives, and pepperoncinis are bathed in a robust red wine vinegar and thyme dressing. Ready in 30 minutes!

An overhead shot of a pizza night salad in a wide, white bowl with wooden salad tongs. The salad contains: romaine, radicchio, chickpeas, olives, pepperoncini, sun dried tomatoes, red onion, cucumber, cherry tomatoes, and a red wine vinegar and thyme dressing.
An overhead shot of a singular serving of a pizza night salad in a wide, white and speckled bowl. The salad contains: romaine, radicchio, chickpeas, olives, pepperoncini, sun dried tomatoes, red onion, cucumber, cherry tomatoes, and a red wine vinegar and thyme dressing.
An overhead shot of ingredients used in a vegan pizza night salad, all on a worn wood surface.
A head-on shot of ingredients used for a red wine vinegar and thyme dressing.
An overhead shot of a red wine vinegar and thyme dressing.

Just the title of this recipe gets me excited! Pizza night salad 😊 . You already know: this is a veg-heavy side dish that goes well with pizza. It’s briny, vinegar-y, salty, sweet, crisp, and surprisingly hearty on its own. In my opinion this is the ultimate green salad to go with pizza. Whether we’re ordering takeout or making the pie at home, I almost always eat salad with pizza. I just like something fresh and crisp to contrast and to round out the pizza night. My take on a vegan caesar salad is also a great option.

The most key component of this salad is a homemade red wine vinegar dressing with fresh thyme. This dressing has a lot going on! Garlic, the fresh thyme (it’s incredible here), a little sweetness from agave or sugar, Dijon mustard and Tamari for depth, a dollop of vegan mayonnaise to give it more body, a splash of salty/spicy pepperoncini brine, and olive oil. We simply shake it up in a jam jar! The dressing hangs more on the acidic side because that is my personal preference–and I also just enjoy that sharpness as a contrast to the main event.

The rest of this pizza night salad just comes together in a couple bowls and on your cutting board. Another really important thing to take note of: try to cut the romaine, radicchio, cucumber, red onion, sun dried tomatoes, and everything else nice and fine. That way you get a little bit of everything in every single bite. It’s almost like a salad within a salad. I like to top it with my vegan parmesan.

Pizza recipes to go with your Pizza Night Salad:

The chickpeas give this dish an abundant and substantial feel. I give lots of tips and substitution recommendations in the notes of the recipe itself, just in case you can’t find every single thing at the store. Next time you need something to serve with pizza for dinner, I hope that you give this flavourful salad a try!

An up close, overhead shot of a chickpea, tomato, cucumber, red onion, sun dried tomato, olive, and pepperoncini mixture tossed lightly with vinaigrette.
An overhead shot shows a salad being assembled in a wide white bowl over a worn wooden surface. The dressing is in a jar nearby.
A head on shot of dressing being poured onto a salad.
An overhead shot of a pizza night salad in a wide, white bowl with wooden salad tongs. The salad contains: romaine, radicchio, chickpeas, olives, pepperoncini, sun dried tomatoes, red onion, cucumber, cherry tomatoes, and a red wine vinegar and thyme dressing.

Pizza Night Salad

This pizza night salad is the perfect side to go with a pizza dinner. Finely chopped romaine, radicchio, cucumber, tomato, red onion, chickpeas, sun dried tomatoes, olives, and pepperoncini peppers are bathed in a robust red wine vinegar and thyme dressing. Ready in 30 minutes!
5 from 88 votes
An overhead shot of a pizza night salad in a wide, white bowl with wooden salad tongs. The salad contains: romaine, radicchio, chickpeas, olives, pepperoncini, sun dried tomatoes, red onion, cucumber, cherry tomatoes, and a red wine vinegar and thyme dressing.
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings 6

Ingredients

Red Wine Vinegar & Thyme Dressing

  • ¼ cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon pepperoncini pepper brine
  • 1 tablespoon vegan mayonnaise
  • 2-3 teaspoons agave nectar/fine sugar/honey
  • ½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • ½ teaspoon Tamari soy sauce
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced with a Microplane
  • sea salt and ground black pepper, to taste
  • 7 tablespoons olive oil

Salad

  • 1 cup cooked chickpeas
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, cut into quarters
  • ½ medium red onion, small dice (about ¾ cup diced red onion)
  • ½ English cucumber, small dice (about 1 cup diced cucumber)
  • ½ cup pepperoncini peppers, stems removed and chopped fine
  • ½ cup pitted olives, chopped fine
  • 2 sun dried tomatoes packed in oil, minced (about ⅓ cup minced sun dried tomato)
  • 2 romaine hearts, finely shredded (about 5-6 cups shredded romaine)
  • 1 small head radicchio, finely shredded (about 2-3 cups shredded radicchio)
  • vegan "parmesan", for serving (optional)

Notes

  • I recommend a milder-tasting olive oil for the dressing here. Save your robust and peppery olive oil for something extra special!
  • I used chopped up Cerignola olives–any pitted olives that you love are great.
  • I double up this dressing recipe all the time to keep on hand in the fridge. It lasts about two weeks.
  • If you’re sensitive to the bitter flavour of radicchio, you can substitute it with another romaine heart.
  • I really do prefer fresh thyme in this dressing! There’s just something about it. That said, if you want to make it with dried thyme, use 1 ½ teaspoons.
  • My vegan “parmesan” recipe can be found here.

Instructions

  • Make the dressing. In a sealable jar, combine the red wine vinegar, thyme, pepperoncini pepper brine, vegan mayonnaise, agave nectar, Dijon mustard, Tamari, garlic, salt, and pepper. Seal the lid on top of the jar and give it a good shake. Open up the jar and add the olive oil. Seal the lid back on and give it another shake. Set aside.
  • In a medium bowl, combine the chickpeas, cherry tomatoes, red onion, cucumber, pepperoncini peppers, olives, and sun dried tomatoes. Season this mixture with salt and pepper and toss with 3 tablespoons of the dressing.
  • Add the romaine, radicchio, and remaining dressing to a large serving bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Add ½ of the chickpea and vegetable mixture and toss to combine. Top the salad with the remaining chickpea and vegetable mixture, extra black pepper, and vegan "parmesan" if you like. Serve immediately.
A 3/4 angle shot of a singular serving of a pizza night salad in a wide, white and speckled bowl. The salad contains: romaine, radicchio, chickpeas, olives, pepperoncini, sun dried tomatoes, red onion, cucumber, cherry tomatoes, and a red wine vinegar and thyme dressing.
01/03/2023 (Last Updated 18/08/2023)
Posted in: autumn, bitter, chickpeas, gluten free, nut free, quick, salad, salty, side dish, sour, spicy, spring, summer, sweet, tomatoes, vegan, winter

39 comments

5 from 88 votes (57 ratings without comment)

Recipe Rating




  • Annabelle

    5 stars
    This is probably the best salad I have ever had – I binged on it to the point of a serious stomach ache!
    The kids (6, 7) loved it and so did the grown-ups – none of us are into dressing so I tried a little just for the review, and ate the rest without it. This salad is incredible and I will be making it again this week. And maybe the next week. And the week after that…
    I did have to sub the fancy lettuces for regular old iceberg due to availability in the area, but the salad still slaps so hard. I’ll add more protein to it to make a whole meal of it next time.

  • Mrs C

    5 stars
    Perfect salad for family pizza night!

  • Jen

    5 stars
    Try making this with roasted or grilled broccoli instead of romaine if you want a different kind of salad. Delicious! I’ve made a number of swaps, additions, and omissions and it’s great every time. You can’t go wrong with this one, it’s definitely in regular rotation at our house.

  • Kathryn

    Can you just explain what you mean by “cooked” chickpeas? I don’t see any notes on this. Do you just recommend that they’re oven roasted a bit before putting in the salad? Hoping to make this week for my bookclub.

    • Laura Wright

      Hi Kathryn!
      By cooked I mean regular chickpeas in a can! No need to roast in the oven. I always say “cooked” so as not to confuse with dried ones. Hopefully that clarifies, but do let me know if you have any more questions.
      -L

  • Yafa

    5 stars
    I make salads almost every day and was looking to make a different style of salad with homemade deep dish pizza, something with a touch more acid like the salads served with pizza at Chicago area restaurants while I was growing up,
    I made this salad using the pickled sweet banana peppers that I had on hand and we enjoyed it very much. I usually use oregano with mint or oregano with marjoram in salad dressing, so using thyme was a nice change of pace too.

  • Heidi

    5 stars
    Delicious! Hearty enough to stand alone. I make this for my oldest who is a vegetarian, chop up some optional chicken for the meat eaters and everyone is happy! Thank you for the recipe!

    • Laura Wright

      So glad you’re enjoying it Heidi! :)
      -L

  • amanda

    5 stars
    My new favorite salad. I have made this multiple times over the past few months. Great for pizza night, great for leftover the next day, it’s just so delicious!

  • Tyra

    5 stars
    I’ve made this salad three times in the last week. So yummy with pasta, lasagna or pizza!

    • Laura Wright

      So glad that you’re enjoying it, Tyra!
      -L

  • Taylor P

    Best salad I’ve ever had!!!!!

  • Andi

    5 stars
    Love this salad and dressing! Crowd pleaser! Served with a pasta dish and looking forward to a pizza night! :-)

  • What I Loved in August – thehyperfixationlist

    […] Pizza Night Salad from the First Mess […]

  • Amanda

    5 stars
    This is so delicious! You are right, it’s perfect for pizza night. I will 100% be keeping this recipe handily. Yum yum.

    • Laura Wright

      So glad that you enjoyed Amanda! Thanks for leaving this review :)
      -L

  • Jennifer

    5 stars
    Love this recipe and have made it a few times! It is a winner.

  • Kelly

    5 stars
    So tasty! I added a cup of cooked quinoa and turned this into a full on dinner salad. Super satisfying.

  • Bani

    5 stars
    This is wonderful and happily very easy to make. The dressing is SO good. I’ve made it a few times now, a couple of those times without a few ingredients (no vegan mayonnaise, agave nectar or brine) and it’s still amazing. Love it so much!

  • Sandy

    5 stars
    Made this tonight and it was amazing. Used purple cabbage instead of radicchio and only used half.Added marinated cubed tofu for protein. Definitely keep this dressing on hand. So good!

  • Lily

    5 stars
    My new favorite salad! I used Tofutti sour cream in place of the mayo in the dressing and cut the radicchio down to about 2/3 of the amount suggested, and loved the result. Something about slicing salad greens finely makes me feel like I’m eating in a fancy chopped salad joint that charges $13 a bowl. Briny and fresh, this went perfectly with vegan butternut squash risotto :)

  • Jamie

    5 stars
    This one is entering the rotation for when I need a veggie break without weeping into my wilted kale. There is so much amped up flavor, and it’s easily turned into a main with some big croutons or avocado slices added. The dressing’s sweetness can be modified depending on how bright your tomatoes or radicchio are, and you can make this into a “fridge dump” by tossing in whatever veg you need to use up … I loved it with carrot strips, walnuts, and leftover roasted zucchini. It keeps well if you separate the leaves from the “wet” elements like cuke/tomatoes/chickpeas and perhaps pickle the red onions so they don’t get too funky in the fridge over a few days. It’s a lot of labor; I probably wouldn’t be making this AND a pizza (store bought it is!), but it’s just SO GOOD that it’s worth it.

  • Stephanie

    5 stars
    Made this for some non-veg relatives and they devoured it. Will definitely be making this on repeat!

  • Mary

    5 stars
    This is truly the perfect pizza night salad, so reminiscent of my childhood but leveled up with so many delicious ingredients. Chef’s kiss! Make this!

  • Michelle

    5 stars
    Do yourself a favor and make this.

  • Ragnheidur Sigurdardottir

    5 stars
    youn cant make this shit up!! so good with my pasta- ate more of the salat. thank you master.

  • Rebecca

    5 stars
    There are a lot of different tastes at my office and I was charged with making a salad for a pizza birthday party. I loosely followed this recipe and it was a big hit. Thank you Laura Wright!

  • Sue

    5 stars
    Excellent salad Laura! Thanks. Really loved the dressing. We ate so much salad we decided to delay the pizza until tomorrow!

  • Hope

    5 stars
    makes a huge batch, id half it next time, but delicious!

  • Tracey

    I really enjoyed this. I used red cabbage for radicchio. I’m using the leftover dressing on some shredded cabbage today for lunch.

  • Sarah

    5 stars
    Excellent salad! Couldn’t find radicchio at my corner store so subbed cabbage. Also threw in some wilting broccoli and some random nuts for crunch. Delicious! Exactly the salad I want to eat with pizza.

  • Kate

    5 stars
    Great salad! Thank you so much for the recipe. I have actually loved every recipe of yours that I have tried. Your book is very good too!

  • Larissa

    5 stars
    Everything I was hoping this salad would be! Tangy, salty, so much flavor. Came together pretty quickly too. Highly recommend!!!

  • Katie W

    5 stars
    Just had this at dinner and it was SO good. My 6 year old just had three servings (no pepperoncini in hers but the brine was in dressing). Really delicious

  • Vicki

    5 stars
    Loved this! Best salad I’ve had in a long time. Will be making frequently.

  • Nancy

    5 stars
    This salad is SO GOOD! When I first saw the post on Instagram I somehow internalized it as “pizza salad” instead of “pizza night salad”, so all I could think of was how to make it more pizza-like. I added diced pepperoni and served it with garlic knots! I made a few tweaks to the add-ins based on my family’s preferences and also left a few things in separate bowls so people could add what they wanted. The dressing is so zippy and fresh (that fresh thyme REALLY amps it up!!) and overall the salad is just delicious and fun! I will make this again and again – it’s my new favorite salad! Thank you for such a great recipe!

  • Kaley

    5 stars
    We loved this salad! Made it last night with the cheesy barley and broccoli and it was the perfect combo! Loved all the vinegary components, especially the pepperoncini brine in the dressing. Also loved how everything was chopped small — so much flavor in one bite!

  • Angela J

    5 stars
    Made this along with your recipe for mushroom meatballs in marinara and your butternut/pesto cream lasagne, all for a wee birthday dinner party last night. Delicious! The flavours all worked beautifully together and were enjoyed by everyone. Salad was good today for lunch (was dressed yesterday). Thanks for the wonderful recipes!

  • Kim H

    5 stars
    I am in love with this salad. I couldn’t help repeated audible “mmm”s while eating this. I’d say the fresh thyme and pepperoncini brine are the MVPs of the dressing. Thanks, Laura! OUTSTANDING!!!

  • Sarah | Well and Full

    I LOVE this idea! I am also someone who has to have a salad with pretty much every meal. The pepperoncini sounds bomb in here. Making this asap!!