Tuesday, June 24, 2014

I dont know about Portillo's, but I know I love this salad!

I can't remember where I ran across this chopped salad recipe, and I'm not even familiar with the restaurant from which it was copycatted, Portillo's. Apparently, it's famous for Chicago-style food, such as hot dogs with all the crazy toppings and Italian beef sandwiches. But people must also love this salad, because the knockoff version seems mighty popular. And after enjoying it for dinner tonight, I can certainly see why! I particularly love the addition of the ditalini pasta (which really is better if you let it marinate in some of the balsamic dressing overnight). It's kind of like the love child of a green salad and a pasta salad. Perfect for summer suppers and backyard gatherings. YUM!! (It was prettier before I mixed it all up, but it tasted better after everything was combined.)

"Portillo's" Chopped Salad
4 cups cooked ditalini pasta
1 cup cooked and crumbled bacon
3 cups chopped romaine lettuce
3 cups chopped iceberg lettuce
2-1/2 cups chopped red cabbage (I prefer radicchio)
2 fresh tomatoes, seeded and diced
1 cup sliced green onions
4 ounces crumbled gorgonzola cheese (about 1 cup)
2 cups cooked and diced chicken 

Sweet Italian Dressing:
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup olive oil

Cook ditalini pasta according to package instructions. Make sure you salt the pasta water while cooking to give it some flavor. Drain and cool. Set aside.

Cook bacon in a skillet until done. Let bacon cool, then crumble it.

Combine romaine, iceberg, red cabbage, tomatoes and green onions in large salad bowl. Add cooled pasta, bacon and gorgonzola cheese to salad. Add chicken. Add dressing to taste right before serving so that it doesn't get soggy.

For the dressing: Place vinegar, garlic, sugar, oregano, salt and pepper in a blender. While the machine is running, slowly drizzle olive oil through the blender top or feed tube until dressing is combined and emulsified. Store in airtight container in refrigerator for up to two weeks.

A tip: If you make the dressing ahead of time and add a little bit to the cooled pasta and let it soak it up in the fridge for some time it adds a whole lot of flavor.

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