Copycat Portillo’s Chopped Salad


Hi! How’s it going? Check out what I painted over the weekend:


I was so proud! Granted, it was at Splash Milwaukee – a wine and painting bar where an artist showed us step-by-step how to paint it. But I was still proud! It was a lot of fun too! One of my friends from home visited for the weekend so we painted, did a brewery tour at Milwaukee Brewing Co. (where we got the very last tickets!), and went to Bryant’s Cocktail Lounge, which is an old-fashioned lounge from the 1930s where there aren’t any drink menus but the bartenders can make pretty much anything. All in all, it was a great weekend.


I’m also really excited because my Fitbit One came this week! My health insurance is through Humana and just by taking the health assessment I earned enough points to get it for free. How great is that? I’ve been playing around with it yesterday and today and it’s really cool actually. It tells me how many steps I’ve taken, stairs I’ve climbed, distance traveled, calories burned, and when I wear it at night it tells me how well I slept. I especially like it because it makes it really easy to set fitness goals and track them. I’ve been trying to get in better shape recently so hopefully the Fitbit will help get me excited about doing so. (Also I swear I’m not being paid by Fitbit – I’m just really giddy about mine!)

Here is something else I’m super excited about: this Copycat Portillo’s Chopped Salad!!!


Anyone in the Chicagoland area knows what Portillo’s is and also knows that they have the most incredible Italian beef ever!! Seriously… their Italian beef is crazy good. The beef n’ cheddar on a croissant is my personal favorite. Mmmmmm. (FYI if you don’t live near Chicago, you can get it shipped!)

Even though it’s famous for its Italian beef, Portillo’s (more specifically, Barnelli’s Pasta Bowl) also has an extremely delicious chopped salad. When I saw the recipe on Pinterest, I immediately decided to recreate it. One of my best decisions ever. It definitely did not disappoint! Try it!!! (It’s easy too!)



First, cook 2 cups Ditalini pasta according to the package directions then let it cool. It should come out to about 4 cups cooked pasta. I couldn’t find Ditalini pasta at my grocery store so I used elbow macaroni instead. Ditalini is what Portillo’s uses, but you could certainly substitute it with other pasta like I did.

While the pasta is cooking, cook 6-8 slices of bacon (skillet, microwave, oven – however you prefer) then let them cool and crumble them.

Chop 3 cups romaine lettuce, 3 cups iceberg lettuce, and 2 1/2 cups red cabbage then add into a large bowl.


Chop 2 tomatoes then add into salad.


Chop 1 cup green onions then add into salad.


Add cooled pasta and bacon into salad. (I actually added my pasta later because I soaked it in the dressing overnight)


Top with 4 ounces crumbled Gorgonzola cheese. I actually used chevre cheese instead because I am not a big fan of Gorgonzola and chevre was what I happened to have on hand (since I’m a little obsessed).


You could also add grilled chicken to the salad to give it some more protein. I forgot to thaw mine so I didn’t include it but you definitely could!



For the salad dressing: add 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar, 2 cloves garlic – peeled and minced, 1 teaspoon sugar, 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper into a blender. While blending, slowly drizzle in 1/2 cup olive oil until it’s mixed in and well blended.


If you want to really put the salad over the top, put your cooked pasta in an airtight container with the dressing overnight and let the pasta soak up flavor from the dressing. That’s what I did and it was very flavorful!


Yum! Now I can have a little bit of Portillo’s in Milwaukee!


Copycat Portillo’s Chopped Salad

Recipe from Christine Trevino
Dressing from Chicago Sun Times 

Serves 10


2 cups Ditalini pasta (about 4 cups cooked) – I used elbow macaroni
7 slices bacon
3 cups chopped romaine lettuce
3 cups chopped iceberg lettuce
2-1/2 cups chopped red cabbage
2 fresh tomatoes, seeded and diced
1 cup chopped green onions
4 ounces crumbled gorgonzola cheese (about 1 cup)
grilled chicken, chopped (optional)

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


  1. Cook pasta according to package directions. Set aside and let cool.
  2. Cook bacon in preferred method then let cool and crumble.
  3. In large bowl, combine romaine lettuce, iceberg lettuce, red cabbage, tomatoes, and green onions.
  4. Add cooled pasta and crumbled bacon into salad.
  5. Add crumbled Gorgonzola cheese to salad then mix.
  6. For dressing: Combine balsamic vinegar, garlic, sugar, oregano, salt, and pepper in blender. While blending, slowly add in olive oil until well blended.
  7. For more flavorful noodles: store noodles and dressing in airtight container overnight then add to the salad the next day.



About Gourmet Greek Girl

My name is Nicole and I'm a Greek girl! I'm also a high school French teacher in Milwaukee, WI who loves to cook, eat, and travel.
This entry was posted in Dinner, Healthy, Lunch, Salad and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s