Friday, February 12, 2016

Portillo's Chopped Salad with Sweet Italian Dressing

Thank you for your patience.  It's been lonely week around here as we continue to miss our Sweet Muffin.

I ran across this salad recipe and couldn't wait to try it.  This is my new favorite chopped salad recipe.  So simple, yet it never occurred to me that the simple addition of small pasta bits would make such a difference.  And this dressing is just perfect.

Portillo's is a restaurant chain based in the Chicago area.  Their menu says they use romaine, iceberg, and red cabbage as the base so that's what I used.  And except in a pinch I won't change that.  This is a great year-around salad for a great dinner.

A note:  The original salad calls for ditalini pasta, a tiny tube shaped pasta.  Again, I stick with this because I really like ditalini.  But you could sub in any small pasta shape, even small elbows.  Also, leftovers keep well (just don't dress the salad until serving time to keep the lettuce crisp).  But since there are just the two of us, I reduced the salad part substantially, but made the entire dressing will keep for a long time.

    Sweet Italian Dressing:
    1/3 cup white or regular balsamic vinegar
    1/3 cup olive oil
     cloves garlic, finely minced
    2 teaspoons sugar, honey or maple syrup
    1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
    1/4 teaspoon salt
    1/4 teaspoon black pepper


    8 ounces (about 1 cup or so) uncooked Ditalini pasta (see note above)

    5 cups chopped lettuce (use what you like: romaine, spring mix, iceberg or a combo)

    1 cup chopped red cabbage (see note above)

    1 cup chopped tomatoes

    3 green onions, chopped

    1/2 - 1 cup cooked and crumbled bacon

    1/4 - 1/2 cup crumbled Gorgonzola cheese

    2 cups cooked, diced chicken (you could use rotisserie chicken or any cooked chicken you might have left over)

  • For the dressing, combine all the ingredients in a blender or jar. Process or shake until well-combined. Add additional salt and pepper to taste, if needed. You can make and refrigerate the dressing a week or two in advance.

  • In a pot of salted, boiling water, cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain and rinse quickly with cool water so it doesn't stick together while it cools. Pour a few tablespoons of the dressing over the pasta and stir lightly. Set aside to cool to room temperature (spreading it into a flatter layer - versus mounded in a bowl - will speed up the cooling process).

  • In a large bowl, toss together the lettuce, cabbage, tomatoes, and green onions. Add the cooled pasta, bacon, gorgonzola cheese, and chicken.

  • To serve, you can toss the salad with the dressing before serving - or, if you anticipate leftovers, add dressing only to the portions of salad served and then store the dressing and salad separately for fabulous leftovers.

  • Recipe Source:

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