Insalata di Rinforzo Recipe from Naples

Author: Veruska Anconitano, Award-Winning Food Travel Journalist, Sommelier & Outdoor LoverAuthor information
About the author
Veruska Anconitano
Veruska is a a food travel journalist with awards to her credit, such as World Best Food Travel Journalist. She holds a certification as a sommelier and she is also an ardent lover of the outdoors. Aside from this, Veruska is a Multilingual SEO and Localization Consultant and co-owns multiple websites that cater to a global audience.
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You may have heard that for Italians eating is more than just sitting at a table: it means joy and share, no matter what the occasion is. This insalata di rinforzo recipe is a staple of the holiday table in Naples, Southern Italy, and it’s so incredibly rich that really represents Italy at its best.

Every Neapolitan family has its own insalata di rinforzo recipe and of course, we’ve ours as well. If you’re looking for a traditional Italian recipe for Christmas, keep it reading: together with the panettone, the pandoro this is possibly one of the most authentic Italian recipes ever and we hope you will like it so much that it will become a staple in your house as well.

The goal of this salad is to put as many ingredients as possible into a bowl; there is a basic recipe that we’ve tried to summarize but the more you can improvise the best it is.

Ingredients for 1 bowl

  • 1 cauliflower
  • Pitted black olives
  • Green olives
  • Pickled peppers
  • Capers
  • Mixed pickles
  • Salted anchovies
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • White wine vinegar
  • Extra virgin olive oil


  1. Cut the cauliflower into florets and boil for no longer than 10 minutes in salted water. Put the cauliflower aside to cool.
  2. In the meantime, cut the peppers, remove seeds and core and cut into wedges. Cut the anchovies into small pieces and, if necessary, reduce the size of the pickles.
  3. When the cauliflower is cold put it in a bowl and season with black and green olives, capers, the pepper, the anchovies, pickles, salt, pepper, white vinegar and extra virgin olive. Mix well and let stand for at least 4 hours before serving.


Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 10 minutes

Total time: 25 minutes

What is the insalata di rinforzo?

According to the tradition, the name of this salad it’s very cool: “rinforzo” means “reinforcement” and the meaning is related to the fact that this salad is supposed to be reinforced every time you bring it on the table.

Let’s explain: the very first salad is brought to the table on Christmas Eve and it is potentially served with the addition of new ingredients, the so-called reinforcements precisely, until New Year’s Eve. The goal is to use all the leftovers, to create a delicious and extremely rich salad.

Historically, this insalata di rinforzo was born as a way to compliment the meatless Christmas Eve’s meal but in the popular imagination, the idea of adding more and more ingredients to a salad has still the majority of the supporters.

Variations to the original recipe

A fairly widespread tradition is to consume fried cod, accompanied by this salad. Prepare the cod by cutting it into cubes; flour it and fry. Once fried, let it dry and then add it to the insalata di rinforzo prepared the day before and let it rest in the fridge.

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