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Salads

You lucky devil. You just found copycat recipes for all of your favorite famous foods! Bestselling author and TV host, Todd Wilbur shows you how to easily duplicate the taste of iconic dishes and treats at home. See if Todd has hacked your favorite salads here. New recipes added every week.

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    Score: 4.90. Votes: 10

    McDonald's enlisted Destiny's Child, Venus Williams, and Bob Greene (Oprah's trainer) to kick off its balanced lifestyles campaign in the spring of 2005, starting with this salad and the tagline "Get a fruit buzz." Most of the recipe is no big secret: two kinds of sliced apples, red seedless grapes, and low-fat vanilla yogurt. If there is a secret ingredient it's the candied walnuts which we can clone from scratch using honey, peanut oil, sugar and vanilla. 
     
    Source: Top Secret Recipes Unlocked by Todd Wilbur.

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    Score: 5.00. Votes: 4

    Menu Description: "Shredded napa cabbage, chilled grilled chicken breast, julienne cucumbers, edamame, crispy wontons, peanuts, cilantro, julienne carrots, red cabbage and scallions tossed with a lime-cilantro dressing. Topped with crispy rice sticks and Thai peanut dressing."

    You can plan ahead for this amazing salad clone by first grilling the chicken and chilling it, then preparing the cilantro-lime dressing and the peanut sauce in advance. The menu description says that the salad is topped with "crispy rice sticks," but they look to me like crispy bean threads, cooked in a flash when dropped into hot oil for a few seconds. The crispy wontons are made from frying thinly sliced wonton wrappers in the same hot oil. For the edamame (soybeans), look in the frozen food section, and if they're still in their pods, be sure to take them out before measuring and tossing them into the salad. Once you've got everything chilled and chopped, building each dish is a breeze, and you'll have four huge dinner-size salads that will each be enough for an entire meal.

    I've cloned a ton of dishes from California Pizza Kitchen. See if I hacked your favorites here

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 2 by Todd Wilbur.

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    Menu Description: "Grilled, marinated chicken breast, mixed greens, pico de gallo, pineapple chunks, tortilla strips & honey-lime dressing."

    Larry Levine started building his chain of Chili's restaurants in Dallas in 1975. At that time, Chili's was basically a hamburger joint with a gourmet touch, dining room service and booze. Even though the menu then offered only eleven items, the restaurant was so popular that the throngs of hungry customers waited patiently in lines extending into the parking lots. This caught the eye of persuasive restaurateur Norman Brinker, who, in 1983, convinced Larry to sell his chain of Chili's restaurants, which by then had grown to a total of thirty.

    Before Norman had stepped into the picture, more than 80 percent of Chili's business was in hamburgers. Today a much larger menu reflects the current trends in food, and salads are some of the best-selling items. These days the Grilled Caribbean Salad with the tasty honey-lime dressing is the salad of choice. 

    Check out more of my copycat recipes for Chili's favorites here.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes by Todd Wilbur.

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    Score: 5.00. Votes: 7

    Menu Description: "A masterwork of flavors. Grilled, marinated chicken breast crowns this fresh mix of delectable greens, crisp apples, rich crumbled bleu cheese and sweet candied walnuts. Tossed in our tangy balsamic vinaigrette."

    Sometimes I feel like a C.S.I. To re-create this salad I ordered several to-go and then sat down with a magnifying glass and carefully picked out each of the bits and pieces and separated them into smaller bowls. Sure this was tedious work, but it made it easy to measure out each ingredient for the most accurate clone recipe. Next, I cooked a ton of chicken, each with different versions of the marinade, until I found the one that worked. The smoky marinade for the chicken here is basically a brine that adds just the right amount of saltiness and flavor through osmosis, so be sure not to let the chicken soak longer than specified. Of course, the lead performer in any salad is the dressing, since it is responsible for much of what you taste. The tangy balsamic vinaigrette is delicious with honey, Dijon mustard, garlic, and tarragon in there. You can make an easy emulsion out of it with a hand mixer. The best part is that you'll end up with leftover vinaigrette that you can use to make a couple more meal-size salads, and then some. Case closed.

    Find more of my salad knock-off recipes here. 

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 3 by Todd Wilbur.

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    Score: 5.00. Votes: 3

    Menu Description: "Fajita-marinated chicken, corn relish, mixed cheese, cilantro, diced tomato and crispy tortilla strips. Garnished with a chipotle-ranch drizzle and cheese quesadilla wedges. Served with our citrus-balsamic dressing."

    I'm a happy camper on a Saturday afternoon when diving into one of these big salads, served up with a Presidente Margarita to help relieve my hangover from a Friday night hoo-ha. For the last several years, this has been the go-to salad when you're dining at Chili's. The chicken marinade is delicious, the corn relish is a great touch, and the citrus-balsamic vinaigrette totally rocks. And where else can you get a salad that includes slices of cheese quesadilla on the side? I love it. If you're a fan of the original, this 4-serving clone will bring it home.

    Craving more of your favorite dishes from Chili's? See if I hacked your favorites here

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 3 by Todd Wilbur

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    Score: 4.69. Votes: 13

    Menu Description: "Fresh spinach tossed with tomatoes, red peppers, onions, almonds and topped with grilled shrimp. Served with bacon vinaigrette."

    Here's another great vinaigrette from Applebee's—a perfectly sweet and sour concoction packed with bits of real bacon. Medium shrimp are sprinkled with a secret seasoning blend, then grilled and arranged on top of the two large dinner-size salads this recipe yields. You can also split these up to serve four smaller side salads. There will be extra vinaigrette, so by adding a bit more spinach, you can even stretch this recipe to serve six when that couple who never calls ahead shows up unexpectedly on your stoop at chow time.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 3 by Todd Wilbur.
     

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    Score: 4.81. Votes: 16

    This cheesy little number is one of the most popular side salad choices at America's favorite steakhouse chain. Cinnamon Pecans and fried angel hair pasta are tossed with salad greens and a delicious sweet and sour bleu cheese vinaigrette. The crunchy angel hair pasta pieces are made by first boiling 24 sticks of uncooked pasta for half of the usual cooking time. When the pasta is cool, fry it in a bit of oil until light brown and crispy. The cinnamon pecans are easily candied in a small saucepan with a few basic ingredients. The recipe here makes two large salad servings, which will require only half of the dressing. This way, if you want to serve more salads you can easily double up on the other ingredients, and you'll have just the right amount of dressing for a couple more servings.

    How about a 'Bloomin Onion to go with that salad? I've cloned a ton of famous dishes from Outback Steakhouse. See if I hacked your favorites here.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 3 by Todd Wilbur.

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    Score: 5.00. Votes: 2

    Menu Description: "Chopped lettuce, basil, salami, chilled roast turkey breast, diced tomatoes and Mozzarella cheese tossed in our herb-mustard Parmesan vinaigrette topped with scallions."

    It's the delicious herb-mustard Parmesan vinaigrette that makes this salad so good. And since freshly made dressings are way better than anything you'll buy in a store, heres a great clone for vinaigrette that you can use either on the chopped salad clone here, or on any salad you assemble with ingredients on hand. After heating up these vinaigrette ingredients for a couple minutes, let the mixture cool, and then drizzle a thin stream of olive oil into the dressing as you blend it with an electric mixer on high speed. This will create an emulsion to thicken the vinaigrette and hold all the ingredients together even as the dressing chills.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 3 by Todd Wilbur.

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    Score: 5.00. Votes: 1

    Menu Description: "Chopped lettuce, black beans, sweet corn, jicama, cilantro, basil, crispy corn tortilla strips, and Monterey Jack cheese tossed together in our herb ranch dressing. Topped with chopped BBQ chicken breast, diced tomatoes and scallions."

    It was probably the popularity of CPK's BBQ chicken pizza that inspired this twist on the original chopped salad. I think the herb ranch dressing that's made here is much better than any ranch dressing you can buy in bottles in your local supermarket, but you can still choose to use one of those on this salad to speed things up, if you prefer. You might also consider substituting ingredients listed here for lower-fat ingredients, such as low-fat mayonnaise, sour cream and fat-free milk. As with any clone, consider this formula as your springboard into a custom dish that suits your own specs.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 3 by Todd Wilbur.

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    Menu Description: "Breast of chicken basted with BBQ sauce & topped with Cheddar cheese, tomato, fresh avocado, and black beans. Served with Ranch dressing & garlic cheese bread."

    In 1969, Gerald Kingen bought a beat-up 30-year old bar called Red Robin in Seattle across the road from the University of Washington. The pub did a booming business with the college and local crowd, but in 1973 building officials gave their opinion of the bar: either fix it up or shut it down. Jerry not only fixed up the 1200-square-foot building, but also expanded it to three times its old size, and added a kitchen to start making food. Red Robin soon became popular for its wide selection of gourmet burgers in addition to the designer cocktails. Jerry says wanted to create a chain of restaurants that would be recognized as "the adult McDonald's and poor man's Trader Vic's."

    See if I hacked your favorite burgers from Red Robin here

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes by Todd Wilbur.

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I'm Todd Wilbur,
Chronic Food Hacker

For 30 years I've been deconstructing America's most iconic brand-name foods to make the best original clone recipes for you to use at home. Welcome to my lab.

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