When I was a little girl growing up in Chicago, Portillo’s held a special place in my heart.
It was the go-to place for my friends’ birthday parties, and those memories still made me smile.
Fast forward a few (or quite a few) years, and I live in Michigan, with Portillo’s visits becoming a distant memory. Whenever we head back to the Windy City to see my family, we miss out on the Portillo’s experience.
But this past weekend, everything changed!
She had an amazing idea as my sister and I was wracking our brains for something scrumptious to bring to our family reunion picnic.
What if we recreated Portillo’s Chopped Salad?
After some research and a little sisterly collaboration, we whipped up a delicious replica that was an absolute hit!
Now, I’ll be honest; there are a few ingredients in there that aren’t exactly my favorites (raw onions and gorgonzola cheese, I’m looking at you!).
But you know what?
The magic of this salad lies in its chopped nature. No big, overwhelming chunks – just a beautiful medley of flavors and textures that come together in perfect harmony.
So, today I want to share with you not just a recipe but a piece of my childhood memories: the iconic Portillo’s Chopped Salad.
Let’s get chopping!
Why You’ll Love It
Even if you’re unfamiliar with Portillo’s, you’ll fall in love with this salad. It’s the perfect blend of flavors and textures that come together in every bite.
Perfect for picnics, family gatherings, or a hearty home meal.
- Chop all ingredients into small, uniform pieces to ensure an even distribution of flavors.
- Toss the salad well before serving so the dressing coats every ingredient.
- Make the dressing ahead of time and refrigerate it for a few hours to let the flavors meld.
You only need a cutting board, a sharp knife, and a large bowl to create this masterpiece.
A salad spinner can come in handy for drying the lettuces, but it’s not a must.
This salad is incredibly versatile, so feel free to add grilled chicken or your favorite protein to make it a complete meal.
Pair it with some crusty bread for the ultimate dining experience.
How to Make Portillo’s Chopped Salad
1. Wash and dry the lettuce. Finely chop until the lettuce is in small pieces.
2. Put in a large bowl.
4. Add remaining ingredients, except dressing, and toss to combine well.
6. Serve dressing alongside the salad or pour on and combine just before serving.
Don’t like raw onions or gorgonzola cheese?
No problem! Swap them out for your preferred ingredients.
Q: What if I don’t have ditalini pasta on hand?
A: Substitute any small pasta shape, like orzo or macaroni, for a similar result. Just be sure to cook and cool it before adding it to the salad.
Q: Can I use a different type of cheese?
A: You can swap out the gorgonzola for another cheese you love, like blue cheese, feta, or even goat cheese. Remember that crumbly cheese works best in this salad.
Q: Is this salad vegetarian?
A: As it’s written, this recipe includes bacon, but you can make it vegetarian by removing it or replacing it with a plant-based alternative.
Portillo’s Chopped Salad (Copycat)
- 1 head iceberg lettuce
- 1-2 heads Romaine lettuce, depending on size
- 1 small head red cabbage, minced or 1 bag sliced red cabbage, chopped
- 1 small red onion, finely minced
- 1 bunch of green onions, thinly sliced
- 3 tomatoes, seeded and diced
- 2 cup ditalini pasta, cooked and cooled
- 1 lb bacon, cooked and crumbled
- 1 cup gorgonzola cheese, crumbled
- Vinaigrette dressing, bottled or homemade (we used a Honey Mustard Vinaigrette)
- Wash and dry the lettuces. Finely chop until the lettuce is in small pieces. Put in a large bowl.
- Cook the bacon
- Add remaining ingredients, except dressing, and toss to combine well.
- Serve dressing along side the salad or pour on and combine just before serving.