Italian Chopped Salad (Portillo’s)

chopped salad 1

If you’re from the Chicagoland area, you’re familiar with Portillo’s and this fabulous salad.  If not, let me clue you in.

A Chicago native, Dick Portillo opened his first hot dog stand in a 6′ x 12′ trailer in the suburb of Villa Park in 1963. A big success by 1967, “The Dog House” was remodeled and renamed “Portillo’s”.  Today the Portillo’s Restaurant Group has over 4,000 employees and 50 restaurants. Famous for their hot dogs, burgers and italian beef, salads were added in 1993 and this Italian chopped salad is one of their most popular. Chock full of tasty ingredients, this salad is served as a main course and is very satisfying.

My version is adapted from Christine Trevino’s copy cat recipe at christinetrevino.com

The Sweet Italian Dressing recipe is from the July 7, 2006 Chicago Sun Times, and was submitted by Dennis Cottini, Glenview, IL

You will need:
Ditalini pasta (One cup dried pasta)
One 7 ounce package romaine leaves (4 cups chopped)
One small head iceberg lettuce (3 cups chopped)
One 8 ounce package pre-shredded red cabbage (2-1/2 cups chopped)
2 large fresh tomatoes
Green onions (One cup sliced)
12 slices bacon (1 cup cooked diced)
4 oz. gorgonzola cheese crumbled

Cook pasta following package directions. Drain and set aside to cool.
Cook bacon until crisp. Chop into bite size pieces.
Wash lettuce and cabbage, remove excess water using a salad spinner.
Chop lettuce and cabbage. Slice onion, seed and dice tomatoes.
Add lettuce, cabbage, tomatoes and onions to a large salad bowl. Top with pasta, bacon and cheese. Toss to combine.
Add dressing to taste, toss and serve. Tip- only add dressing to number of portions you’ll be serving. Store any un-used salad in refrigerator and add dressing when you are ready to serve, otherwise leftovers will be soggy. This recipe makes 6 large main course portions.

Sweet Italian Dressing (Makes 2/3 cup)
You will need:
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup olive oil

Place vinegar, garlic, sugar, oregano, salt and pepper in a blender or food processor fitted with a metal blade. While the machine is running, slowly drizzle olive oil through the blender top or feed tube until dressing is combined and emulsified.

chopped salad 2

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