Authentic Italian Antipasto Salad Recipe

  • by Nonna Box June 30, 2017
  • |
  • Last Updated on May 6, 2020
Insalata di nervetti

Oh, the nerve!! Actually, nervetti. Wait, what? What does that have to do with food? I thought eating good food warms the heart?!

Okay, enough with the mystery. Today, we’re going to talk about an authentic Italian antipasto salad recipe also known as insalata di nervetti. 

But what exactly is nervetti? Veal shank—tendons and cartilage, to be more precise.

A typical antipasto for the region of Lombardy, it was a dish commonly served in bars, to accompany the drinks back in the old days.

Tasty and served at room temperature, it’s once again a dish that embodies our philosophy of not wasting anything. We’ve seen that happen with countless dishes—from meatballs to the minestrone and the wedding soup.

Most recently, we spoke about our mission in the kitchen of not wasting anything, when we showed you that chicken cacciatore recipe.

Insalata di nervetti

Time and time again, we are convinced that the beauty of gastronomy lies in the lack of rules and this authentic Italian antipasto salad recipe proves once more that you can find a culinary use for any kind of meat—and even bones. Because, indeed, this salad uses probably the least likable part of a bovine—the legs, better known as shanks

It’s an unlikely dish. It’s a weird salad. You will probably wonder throughout the making of it if it’s actually edible. But really, we vouch for it, and once you eat it, you will too! 

Here is the recipe:

Insalata di nervetti

Authentic Italian Antipasto Salad Recipe

This antipasto salad recipe is simple and delicious, I absolutely love it and I am sure you'll do too!
5 from 2 votes
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Course: Salad
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 4 hours 30 minutes
Total Time: 5 hours
Servings: 6 people
Calories: 564kcal
Author: Nonna Box


  • 5.5 pounds veal shank
  • 1.7 ounces carrots
  • 1.7 ounces celery
  • 5 bay leaves
  • Black pepper as needed
  • Fine salt as needed
  • 3 tbsp white wine vinegar

To marinate

  • 1.7 ounces red onions
  • 1/3 cup pickled peppers
  • 1 sprig of parsley
  • 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • Black pepper as needed
  • Fine salt as needed
  • 3 tbsp white wine vinegar


  • To prepare the nervetti salad, first you need to wash the veal shank thoroughly.
  • Use a butcher knife to divide the shank into large pieces.
  • Wash the celery and carrot and also cut them into pieces.
  • In a large pot, add the previously cut vegetables and meat, then add the bay leaves and pour plenty of water over them.
  • Add the salt, black pepper, and white wine vinegar, then bring to a boil by covering with a lid.
  • Cook over low heat for about two hours, keeping the lid on the pot and drain the shank pieces, once the period is over. Leave them to cool in a container.
  • Pick the meat off the bones using your hands and cut them into thin strips (this is what is known as the nervetti). Place them back in the container for an hour.
  • Cut the onion and peppers into thin slices, then add them over the container where your meat strips are.
  • Season with oil, salt, and black pepper, then mix it well.
  • Wash and dry the parsley, chop it finely, and add it to the salad, alongside the vinegar.
  • Mix again. After the ingredients are well blended, the salad is ready to be served.
Calories: 564kcal | Carbohydrates: 2g | Protein: 79g | Fat: 23g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 311mg | Sodium: 363mg | Potassium: 1378mg | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 1425IU | Vitamin C: 8.2mg | Calcium: 91mg | Iron: 3.3mg
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