The Ultimate No-Wilt Potluck Salad: Antipasto Grain Salad

updated Feb 5, 2020
Antipasto Grain Salad

This vibrant, no-wilt farro salad, which is packed with buttery olives, peppadew peppers, fresh mozzarella, and more, gets even better as it sits. It's perfect for dinner parties and potlucks.

Serves12

Makes12 cups

Cook15 minutes to 35 minutes

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Credit: Olive & Mango

If you’ve ever waited too long to fill out a potluck sign-up sheet, you might have gotten stuck bringing the salad. Casseroles and desserts are always nabbed first, because “potluck salad” sounds like an oxymoron. Leafy greens, dressed and left to sit out for hours? Bringing the cutlery sounds more appealing.

But this grain salad is here to change the game. Not only is it the very best salad you can bring to a potluck, but it also might just be the best dish there, period. It’s a welcome reprieve from overly heavy mac and cheese or brownies, and will catch everyone’s eye with its vibrant array of colors. Trust me — once you take your first bite (and are inundated with compliments), you’ll put your name by the salad spot every single time.

This Make-Ahead Grain Salad Gets Better as It Sits

When it comes to checking all the potluck boxes, boy does this salad deliver. Opting for a sturdy grain base instead of leafy lettuce means you can make it days in advance — dressing and all — and it only tastes better as it sits. All the ingredients (and especially the chewy, tender farro) soak up the garlicky red wine vinaigrette. Just before serving, stir in the fresh herbs, since that’s the one component best eaten day-of.

In addition to being make-ahead friendly, this salad is incredibly easy to transport and serve. If you have a large mixing or storage bowl with a lid (we love these from Food52), you can mix it up directly in there, pop on the lid, and serve out of the bowl. (Otherwise, just transfer to your favorite storage container or two). You can either mix in the herbs just before you head out, or stir them in at the party.

Credit: Olive & Mango

Pick Out Your Favorites from the Antipasti Bar

Most of this salad’s mix-ins come straight from your grocery store’s antipasti or olive bar, so they’ve already been marinating in a flavorful brine or olive oil. (There’s a reason why we think the antipasto bar is the best spot in the grocery store for dinner inspiration). My picks for mix-ins include buttery Castelvetrano olives (buy pitted if you find them, but we’ve included instructions for easy pitting below), sweet, slightly spicy Peppadew peppers (the multi-colored ones make for an extra-pretty salad), pickled pepperoncinis, and plump mozzarella balls called bocconcini.

Feel free to make substitutions based on your tastebuds or what your store offers. Chopped roasted red peppers — or even a chopped bell pepper for more mild flavor — can be used in place of Peppadews, and a ball of fresh mozzarella can be torn into bite-sized pieces and used in place of the bocconcini. You could even toss in some marinated artichoke hearts, or sun-dried tomatoes.

To cater to any vegetarians at the potluck, we’ve skipped the cured meat traditionally found in an antipasto spread (if you omit the cheese, this salad can be vegan). However, if you know you’re only feeding meat-eaters, feel free to add in salami or prosciutto.

Antipasto Grain Salad

This vibrant, no-wilt farro salad, which is packed with buttery olives, peppadew peppers, fresh mozzarella, and more, gets even better as it sits. It's perfect for dinner parties and potlucks.

Cook time 15 minutes to 35 minutes

Makes 12 cups

Serves 12

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 1 pound

    farro (about 2 1/2 cups)

  • 1/3 cup

    plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, divided

  • Kosher salt

  • 2 cloves

    garlic

  • 1/4 cup

    red wine vinegar

  • 1 tablespoon

    dried oregano

  • Freshly ground black pepper

  • 8 ounces

    Castelvetrano olives (1 1/2 cups), or 10 ounces pitted Castelvetrano olives

  • 4 ounces

    peppadew peppers (1 cup); use multi-colored if you can find them

  • 8

    large pickled pepperoncinis

  • 12 ounces

    multi-colored cherry tomatoes (2 cups)

  • 12 ounces

    bocconcini (small mozzarella balls), drained (2 cups)

  • 1 cup

    loosely packed coarsely chopped fresh basil leaves

  • 1/2 cup

    loosely packed coarsely chopped fresh parsley leaves

Instructions

  1. Cook the farro (yields 6 to 7 cups cooked farro): Place 2 1/2 cups farro in a fine-mesh strainer, rinse under cool running water, and set aside to drain. Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a 6-quart or larger pot over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the farro and toast, stirring often, until golden and nutty-smelling, about 4 minutes. Pour in 12 cups water and 1 tablespoon kosher salt and stir to combine. Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to maintain a simmer and cook uncovered until the the farro is tender but has a slight chew in the center, 10 to 15 minutes for pearled and 25 to 30 minutes for semi-pearled. (This is a good time to make the dressing.) Drain and spread onto a large baking sheet to cool.

  2. Make the dressing: Mince 2 garlic cloves and place in a large bowl. Add 1/3 cup red wine vinegar, 1 tablespoon dried oregano, 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, and several grinds black pepper, and whisk to combine. While whisking constantly, slowly drizzle in the remaining 1/3 cup olive oil and continue whisking until emulsified.

  3. Make the salad: Prepare the following ingredients, adding each one to the bowl of vinaigrette as you complete it: Using the side of a chef’s knife, crush 8 ounces Castelvetrano olives to release the pits; discard pits. Tear the pitted olives into large pieces (if you bought pitted olives, simply tear them into the bowl). Coarsely chop 1 cup peppadew peppers. De-stem and thinly slice 8 pepperoncinis. Halve 12 ounces cherry tomatoes. Tear 12 ounces drained bocconcini in half. Toss to coat all the ingredients in the dressing. Add the cooled farro and toss again. Taste and season with kosher salt and black pepper as needed.

  4. Chop basil leaves until you have 1 loosely-packed cup. Chop parsley leaves until you get 1/2 loosely-packed cup. Just before serving, stir the herbs into the salad.

Recipe Notes

Storage: Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container up to 5 days.