better than olive garden’s salad & dressing

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This morning started with a tea party over at my friends’ Sheri and Dave’s place. I offered to bring the tea sandwiches. So, as soon as I got up,Β  I walked up to the market to get ingredients for my classic cucumber tea sandwiches and for carrot cheddar curry tea sandwiches. This time I made the cucumber sammys with fresh basil leaves and you should have heard the rave reviews! πŸ™‚ We enjoyed a lovely few hours of conversation and tea. Loved Sheri’s pierogis and apple cake and Dave’s Pu erh! Thanks again, friends!

Here’s the recipe you’ve all been waiting for…. the simple, delicious adaptation of Olive Garden’s salad and dressing. SO yummy and easy to put together! We always ask for extra toppings on our salad when we visit this popular Italian restaurant, so I decided to model my recipe closer to our version with the extras. Enjoy!

for the salad:

(serves 8)

family size bag of Dole “American Blend” salad mix

1 14 oz. can black olives, drained well

several pepperoncini peppers

big garlic croutons (store bought or homemade)

2 to 4 Roma tomatoes, sliced

3 or 4 slices thinly sliced purple onion

freshly grated Romano cheese

“better than olive garden’s salad dressing” (see below)

Place all ingredients in a large, chilled salad bowl. Top with the dressing and toss until all ingredients are evenly coated. Place in chilled, single serving glass salad bowls. Top with extra grated Romano cheese and freshly ground black pepper, if desired.

for the dressing:

In the bowl of a blender, combine…

1/2 cup real mayonnaise

3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/3 cup white vinegar

3/4 cup Parmesan cheese

1/4 cup corn syrup

1 Tablespoon lemon juice

1 Tablespoon dry Italian seasoning

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon dried parsley

Zip all in blender until well combined. Decant into a canning jar or cruet. Cover tightly and store in refrigerator until readyΒ  to use. This dressing will keep in your refrigerator for 7 days.



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  26 comments for “better than olive garden’s salad & dressing

  1. lily
    June 26, 2013 at 3:39 pm

    Thanks for this, we don’t live close to an Olive Garden any more
    and how I miss it. After trying this salad once it’s now a staple. Thanks so much!!!

    Also, I printed and keep handy the list of salad dressin recipes. Tonight I’m trying the Lowell Inn Tomato.

    Love your blog!

    • Melissa
      June 26, 2013 at 3:45 pm

      Hello there Sweetie! thanks for the sweet compliment πŸ™‚ I am SO pleased that you enjoy my blog, recipes and ramblings. I think you’re going to LOVE that salad! The Lowell Inn dressings are pretty darn yummy too! I make their “house” dressing all the time. It’s awesome with the creamy blue cheese. XO

  2. June 30, 2013 at 4:15 pm

    Trying it with fresh picked garden greens and subbing out the corn syrup for honey. I think it’ll be yummy!

    • Melissa
      July 1, 2013 at 6:02 pm

      Hi Heidi! enjoy! πŸ™‚

  3. Bonner
    July 1, 2013 at 5:55 pm

    1/4 cup corn syrup or honey? Sounds like a lot, to me! Where do I find the recipe for the Lowell Inns dressing? I LOVE blue cheese!

  4. Deloris
    July 14, 2013 at 7:06 pm


    • Melissa
      July 15, 2013 at 1:10 am

      Thanks, Deloris! Enjoy πŸ™‚

  5. Charlene
    November 4, 2013 at 12:58 pm

    Can I substitue honey for the corn syrup? Sounds yummy, I’ve never been to an Olive Garden, cause the closest one is 7 hours away, but I see their commercials all the time and it sure looks good!

    • Melissa
      November 4, 2013 at 1:51 pm

      You sure can, Charlene! enjoy πŸ™‚

  6. sophia marinucci
    December 4, 2013 at 10:34 am

    looks so yummy! will definitely try the dressing with my greens

    • Melissa
      December 4, 2013 at 1:21 pm

      Thanks for visiting, Sophia πŸ™‚ Enjoy!

  7. Stasi
    January 12, 2014 at 11:41 am

    I didn’t have honey or corn syrup so I used sugar with some water and it tastes good! Thank you for sharing

    • Melissa
      January 23, 2014 at 5:03 pm

      My pleasure, Stasi! thanks for letting me and my readers know that sugar works in this πŸ™‚ xo

  8. January 12, 2014 at 6:50 pm

    Looks perfect. Will be making this, sharing, and pinning.

    • Melissa
      January 23, 2014 at 5:04 pm

      Hi Dan! So pleased you like the recipe! thanks for commenting, and for spreading the word! Much appreciated! πŸ™‚

  9. Lori
    April 12, 2014 at 12:06 pm

    Hi Melissa! I can’t wait to try this! Do you have any idea what the calories per serving this dressing is?

    • Melissa
      April 12, 2014 at 1:46 pm

      Hi Lori! Sorry, I have no idea what the calorie content would be. It’s probably close to what most, premium dressings would be. Definitely not low fat. Thanks for visiting, and enjoy πŸ™‚

      • Lori
        April 12, 2014 at 1:59 pm

        Thanks anyway Melissa!

        • Melissa
          April 14, 2014 at 11:57 am


  10. Ruth Cobb
    June 18, 2014 at 4:09 pm

    Had this pinned from your site then couldn’t find it. I guess I have too many things on my want to make list. However, the salad went over so well. Everyone liked it so much and there was so little left. We were at a picnic for Hooked on Fishing, Not on Drugs volunteer picnic. I think your dressing sounds so good, I’m going to put it in the cookbook for Izaak Walton League, Mountaineer Chapter, of course with proper credit to your site.

    Thanks for the good recipe. I’m glad you have reposted it.

    • Melissa
      June 22, 2014 at 8:11 am

      Hi Ruth! πŸ™‚

      I’m so glad you like the recipes! Thanks for the kind mention in your cookbook! Much appreciated! XOXO ~M

  11. Anny
    October 11, 2014 at 7:48 am

    Good morning. Love Olive Garden and that’s my BF first request when going out to dinner or lunch. Would love to make this at home but we don’t own a blender or processor. Can this be shaken up in a mason jar and stored in it? Thanks. Love your site.

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