Thursday, January 5, 2012

Copy Cat Olive Garden Salad

In college, me and a friend of mine used to frequent a couple of nearby restaurants during our lunch hour – Cheesecake Factory, an upscale Rochester deli, Aladdin’s, and last but certainly not least…Olive Garden.

Don’t ask me why two college chicks living off of a barista’s salary thought it necessary to partake of things like falafel, Paris Bistro Wraps, Southwestern Eggrolls, and Bellini-Peach Raspberry Iced Tea during lunch. We should’ve probably been in the college cafeteria eating pasta with the other kids, but our classes were especially stressful and this was our way of coping. We were also huge food lovers, so the thought of eating cafeteria food didn’t do it for us.

One of our favorite wintertime joints was Olive Garden. There’s just something so satisfying about their unlimited soup, salad and breadsticks lunchtime special. It warms you to your very core, and leaves you feeling only a twinge of guilt (you know, because the healthy soup and veggie-filled salad far outweigh the 6 breadsticks you ate).

Imagine my surprise when I found a copycat version of the OG salad on Pinterest.  

Try this. You will not be disappointed.

Copy Cat Olive Garden Salad - modified ever so slightly from Tammy's Recipes

Start by making your dressing. 

Using a food processor, blend together the following ingredients:
  • 1/2 c. mayo (promise me you won't use anything other than Hellman's...Miracle Whip is not, I repeat, not mayonnaise)
  • 1/3 c. white vinegar
  • 1 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 TBSP dark corn syrup
  • 4 TBSP Parmesan + Romano cheese blend (you can certainly break this up if you don't have a blend on hand - 2 TBSP of each)
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic salt
  • a generous 1/2 tsp. Italian seasonings
  • the juice of 1 lemon
Once you're dressing is all combined like so:

Put it in your fridge to chill while you chop up your veggies for your salad (this dressing makes enough for about 6 side can store the extra in a container for at least 24 hours - trust me, you won't be able to let it last longer than that.)

Now for your veggies!! Here's what you'll need:
  • Romaine lettuce (you can mix some other greens in there too if that's your thing)
  • Grape tomatoes (or whatever kind of tomatoes you prefer, really)
  • Black olives, drained and rinsed
  • Red onion, sliced
  • Pepperoncini Peppers (I'm generous with these bad boys...they're so good I can eat them right out of the jar. But that's not lady like, I'm sure.)
  • And, you can always toss some croutons on there too if you like. I don't really care for croutons, so I left 'em out!
Once your veggies are washed and chopped, place them in a big ole' bowl and pour that yummy dressing all over. Start with just a tad, because this dressing goes a LONG way!


Oh, and in case you’ve a hankerin’ for the breadsticks, my pal SnoWhite does a DIY version of those on her blog too. I haven’t yet had the nerve to make them because the day I do I will eat the whole batch. I know myself too well. 


  1. Oh my goodness! Thank you for posting this! =) I am digging it. We will have to make this very soon.

  2. How bad is this for you, considering the mayo and corn syrup? Just wondering, since on more than one occasion, I've probably eaten a whole bowl of OG myself. This is one of my favorite dressings, and I'll be trying this for sure! PS (The dressing is fabulous as a dipping sauce for those breadsticks)! : )

  3. amazing!

    and - you can totally make the bread sticks. They freeze well :) That's how we stop eating them!


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