Creamy Parmesan and Olive Salad recipe

Creamy Parmesan and Olive Salad

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This Kalamata olive salad has so many great flavors, it’s hard to pinpoint the defining one. But if I had to choose what makes this salad special, it’s the Kalamata olives in combination with the buttermilk parmesan dressing. The parmesan cheese has a salty richness that tastes good with every bite, and the briny, almost wine-like flavor of the olives is just delicious. Together with juicy tomatoes, crisp cucumbers, and pickled pepperoncini, this salad is one of our favorites.

Buttermilk Parmesan Dressing

For best results when making this buttermilk dressing, use freshly grated parmesan cheese. A Microplane works well here to achieve a delicate strand. You’ll find that it blends in so much better with the dressing base. And it’s important to use real buttermilk in this recipe rather than a buttermilk substitute such as vinegar in milk. Real buttermilk is thicker and tangier, and it gives the dressing a creamy, rich consistency.

Diced Cucumbers for Olive Salad


    • You can freeze leftover buttermilk in sealable plastic bags. I like to measure it out in 1/4-cup and 1/2-cup portions for later use in other recipes. It should last about 3 months in the freezer. It will separate when thawed, but it works well in baked goods.
    • When dressing the salad, use less initially, and then add more as needed. This will help prevent overdressing the salad, which in turn, will make it soggy.
    • I like to add iceberg lettuce to my green leaf salads for color and crunch. It gives it a little contrast in texture. And even though it doesn’t have as much nutritional value as other types of lettuce, it does contain some vitamins and minerals.

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    Creamy Parmesan and Olive Salad

    Dressing Ingredients

    • 1/2 cup buttermilk
    • 1/3 cup mayonnaise
    • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
    • 1/8 teaspoon kosher or coarse sea salt
    • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    • 1/2 cup finely grated parmesan cheese (from a wedge)

    Salad Ingredients

    • 4 cups romaine lettuce, torn or cut into bite-size pieces
    • 2 cups iceberg lettuce, torn or cut into bite-size pieces
    • 1 cucumber, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch cubes
    • 1/2 pint cherry tomatoes
    • 1/2 cup pitted Kalamata olives, each cut in half
    • 1/4 cup pepperoncini, cut into thin strips


    Whisk the buttermilk, mayonnaise, garlic powder, salt, and pepper together in a small bowl until creamy. Stir in the grated parmesan cheese and chill at least 30 minutes.

    Rinse the lettuce leaves and pat dry with a clean towel or use a salad spinner to remove as much water as possible. This prevents any water droplets from diluting the dressing.

    Combine the salad ingredients in a large bowl and toss with dressing when ready to serve.

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