Saturday, October 2, 2010

Cafe Rio Salad

Do you have a food that you dream about?

For me, it's the Cafe Rio chicken salad with creamy tomatillo dressing.

Sadly, there are no Cafe Rio restaurants in the midwest. It's been years since my last salad, and I got tired of waiting around.

Fortunately, there's this great thing called the internet....with copycat Cafe Rio recipes a plenty.

It was hard to choose one, but I finally settled on working with the one from Kalyn's Kitchen.

As I was busy making everything, it occurred to me - I don't even remember what Cafe Rio chicken salad taste like. I just have this memory of awesomeness.

When everything was finally finished and the salad put together, it was quite possibly the best salad I have ever made. It was fabulous.

It tasted familiar, so I think I got close to the actual dish.

So if you love Cafe Rio and remember how it tastes, give this a try for me and tell me if it's close.

Even if you've never had Cafe Rio, this is an AWESOME salad. Try it.

Adapted from Kalyn's Kitchen

You will need:
chopped romaine
black beans
the rice
the chicken
creamy tomatillo dressing
broken tortilla chips


1 small bottle Kraft Zesty Italian Dressing
1 T chili powder
1 T cumin
3 cloves garlic—minced
5 lbs chicken breast

Cook all together in a crock pot for 4 hours, shred meat and cook 1 additional hour.
(I halved this and used 3 frozen chicken breasts, and had plenty of chicken).


3 cups water
4 tsp chicken bouillon
4 tsp garlic –minced
½ bunch cilantro
1 can green chilies
¾ tsp salt
1 TB butter
1/4 of an onion
3 cups brown rice

Blend cilantro, green chilies and onion together in food processor. Bring water to a boil and add all ingredients, simmer covered 30 minutes.

Go here for more detailed and picture-rich directions.

Buttermilk dressing
2 tomatillos
1/2 bunch fresh cilantro
1/2 tsp minced garlic
2 TB lime juice
1 jalapeno (seeds removed)

Make your buttermilk dressing (this recipe will make 1 1/2 cups).

Chop the tomatillos and roast at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes. Remove them when they are barely browned. Watch them, they burn fast.

Combine all the ingredients in a food processor and mix well. Refrigerate.


Now all you have to do is put it all together.

Start with a tortilla.

Pile on chopped romaine.

Sprinkle on beans and rice.

Add shredded chicken.

Top with cheese, dressing and broken-up tortilla chips

There you have it - the best salad ever.

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