Portillo’s Chopped Salad

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A copycat recipe of Portillo’s restaurant Chopped Salad.

Portillos Chopped SaladYesterday morning, I dusted off my tennis shoes and went for a jog for the first time since sometime before I was pregnant with Simon.  It was very early because I wanted to make sure I was back home before the kids woke up.  Do you know what happens when you go for a run that early in the morning?

You think and dwell on delirious thoughts.

Thoughts that normally don’t have room in your mind because you’re too busy planning dinners and grocery lists, playing games with a toddler, feeding a newborn, changing smelly diapers, kissing boo-boos, cleaning house, and helping your husband decide on house projects.  At least, that’s my life.

But, an early morning jog lets you clear your mind and allow some funky mental deliberations to take place. For example, “Where in the world did the phrase ‘The straw that broke the camel’s back’ come from??”  Have you ever wondered that? I often try to say this phrase (and others) and get it wrong.  For example, “The straw that cut the monkey’s back” or “The cup that broke the camel’s back.”  But, if I really understood where the phrase came from, then maybe it would be easier to remember the right words.

Maybe this concept would’ve helped this poor girl remember her lyrics.

Portillos Chopped SaladAnyhow, let’s talk about this salad and the new “Salad Sundays” feature.  Although this isn’t a healthy focused food blog, I’ve been contemplating starting a new series that highlights different salad recipes.  Since swim-suit season is right around the corner, I thought this would be a great way to introduce fresh and lighter meals into our daily routine.

After thinking about starting this series for some time, the straw that broke the camel’s back was when I went garage sale-ing last weekend and three strangers asked me if I was pregnant!!

It’s time to lose the baby weight.

Which is why I went jogging yesterday.  Which is why I now know where the phrase “the straw that broke the camel’s back” came from.

But, this salad.. yes, this salad.  It’s not really going to help me lose my baby weight, but we can pretend.  It’s a popular salad from one of our favorite Chicago fast-food joints, Portillo’s.  It’s full of fresh ingredients like leafy greens, tomatoes, cabbage, and onion.  But, it also includes your indulgences of bacon, cheese and pasta…all slathered with an irresistible Italian dressing.

This salad is good for a stand-alone meal, or served as a side dish.  You can also easily double the recipe to serve at potlucks or large get-togethers.

Now get your knife out and start chopping.

Portillo’s Chopped Salad

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

Yield: 6 meal servings, 10-12 side servings

Portillo’s Chopped Salad

Freshly chopped ingredients, tossed with a sweet Italian dressing. A copycat of Portillo's famous chopped salad. Serves well as a stand-alone meal or an accompanying side dish.

    For the Salad:
  • 1 cup Ditalini pasta (also called Salad Macaroni), cooked to al dente and cooled
  • 3 to 4 large leafs of Romaine lettuce, washed, dried and chopped
  • Half head Iceburg lettuce, washed, dried and chopped
  • 1 cup cooked and diced chicken breast
  • 6 to 8 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • 1 large tomato, seeded and diced
  • Half of a 10oz bag shredded red cabbage, chopped
  • 1/2 cup crumbled Gorgonzola cheese
  • 3 stalks green onion, chopped
  • For the Sweet Italian House Dressing:
  • 1/4 cup Balsamic vinegar
  • 2 cloves garlic, pressed
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon Oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
For the Salad:

Combine all salad ingredients in a large bowl and toss.

For the Sweet Italian House Dressing:

Add all dressing ingredients, minus the olive oil, into a blender and pulse to combine. With the blender on low speed, gradually add the olive oil in a thin stream. Continue to blend until the dressing is combined and emulsified.

Pour half of the dressing into the salad bowl and toss to cover. Serve immediately. Reserve the rest of the dressing in the fridge for up to two weeks for other use.

Source: House Dressing recipe from Chicago Sun-Times


Shortcut ideas: It takes some time to chop up and prepare all of the ingredients. If time is of the essence, try these quick tips: 1) Make the dressing ahead of time and store in fridge, up to two weeks. 2) Use pre-cooked bacon (the real stuff, not bacon bits) or make this ahead as well. 3) Buy a bag of Dole salad mix and quick chop it. 4) Use pre-cooked chicken slices and chop.



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  1. I also just had a baby (11 weeks today) so I know the feeling! We have been eating a lot of salads lately! I can’t wait to make this however I will leave out the bacon and cheese and use whole wheat pasta! I never would have thought to have pasta and lettuce combined like this. We don’t have any Portillo’s here. P.S. love your blog!

  2. Oh my goodness, we ate at Portillo’s once about 7 years ago and this is what I had. It was amazing! It will totally go on the next menu!

    I love that you’re doing Sunday Salads! During the warm weather months, I like to make salads on Mondays for supper and then have the left overs for lunch for the rest of the week!

  3. Wow, I should start incorporating some early a. runs 🙂 Your salad looks great!

  4. This is an insanely gorgeous salad!

  5. This salad looks fabulous 🙂 I can’t wait to try this recipe out!

  6. Sally Noble says:

    Love the Chop Salad. Can it be shipped?

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