If you’ve never been to Chicago, you should go just so that you can eat at Portillo’s. When we make a trip back home, a trip to Portillo’s might trump a visit with family.
Portillo’s started out as a tiny hot dog stand and now has several locations in the Chicaoland area along with a few scattered across the country. Unfortunately for us, there is not a location in Texas…yet. The menu has grown and expanded throughout the years and no one in my family ever even orders the hot dog that made them famous.
My boys start fantasizing about Portillo’s weeks before we head home. They talk about getting burgers, Italian Beef sandwiches, and of course, their AMAZING crinkle cut french fries. When I chime in saying how I can’t wait either, they look at me with a smirky frown.
“What are you going to get Mom, a salad?”
SIGH. It’s true. I go to Portillo’s and order a salad. BUT I definitely eat some fries and insist on ordering the orange cup of cheese to dip them in. What can I say? I live on the edge.
I need to explain that it’s not just salad. It’s a Portillo’s Chopped Salad. This is a bowl of chopped romaine, iceberg, tomatoes, red cabbage, green onion, ditalini pasta, Gorgonzola cheese, and their house dressing. On the side is a lemon poppy seed muffin that my son immediately takes. Just to be annoying, I have special instructions when I order.
“Chopped Salad, no pasta, and easy on the cheese. Warm chicken, please. Dressing on the side.”
Unlike other restaurants, they don’t even hesitate with a special order or modification. Which is awesome because I never order anything as is (besides cheese fries).
Looking around the parking lot and restaurant, you think you will never get your food. There’s just so many people. The drive thru line wraps through the parking lot. Some locations have police officers directing traffic during peak hours. Yet somehow, you barely have to wait for your food.
My kids eat their food just as fast. Last time, they each ordered a burger and fries. Just to make sure they wouldn’t leave hungry, they also split an Italian Beef sandwich. Oh to be young with a burning metabolism…
Since it’s already swim suit season here in Texas, I wanted to make a salad that is not only healthy, but satisfying. Lean grilled chicken is packed with protein and keeps the belly satisfied much longer than if I were just eating cheese fries. The rainbow of veggies combined in one bowl really is a thing of natural beauty. All the ingredients are prepped, so this is my healthy and packable lunch for the week.
With every crunchy bite, I’m thinking of home. Time to plan a trip back to Chi-Town so that I can
eat at Portillo’s see my parents.
- 4-6 cups chopped romaine
- 1 cup chopped baby spinach
- 1 cup chopped red cabbage
- 1 finely diced roma tomato
- 1 carrot, peeled and grated
- 1/4 cup feta (or blue cheese or gorgonzola)
- 2 Tbsp sunflower seeds (I used roasted/unsalted)
- 3-4 chicken breasts
- Juice of half a lemon
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 20 grinds pepper
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp melted coconut oil
- 1 Tbsp Greek yogurt
- 4 fresh basil leaves
- 1/2 - 1 tsp sugar (depending on personal preference)
- Pinch of salt
- Preheat grill to medium heat.
- Pour lemon juice over chicken and turn to coat. Add olive oil, salt and pepper.
- Grill approximately 7-8 minutes per side, depending on thickness of chicken.
- Remove from grill and reserve for use in salad.
- Combine all dressing ingredients in mini-prep or blender until well combined. Season to taste. Alternatively, whisk all ingredients together.
- Dice chicken into bite sized pieces.
- Put all salad ingredients on large platter for everyone to serve from.
- Let each person put desired ingredients on their plate.
- For each serving, combine ingredients from plate with a few teaspoons of dressing in a large bowl. Toss to combine. Return to plate.
- Repeat with each serving.
- Alternatively, combine all ingredients in large bowl and distribute among plates. Doing it individually is a good option for picky eaters.