13 April 2010

Cafe Rio-ish

Eric and I love Cafe Rio. It's a Mexican-ish restaurant in Utah, and it's very popular and always crowded. We both always get the exact same thing: Cafe Rio chicken salad, on wheat tortilla with black beans. The only difference is that Eric gets the tomatillo ranch dressing, and I get the cilantro lime vinaigrette.

We love this salad so much that a few years ago we started to make our own version. We do not claim that the rice, the beans or the chicken taste like those in the Cafe Rio recipe. Nor do we claim that our version is as good. But, it's a great meal to make for a lot of people, and we love it. The last time we made was when Eric's brother and his family were in town, and Brianne enjoyed it so much that she wanted the recipe for everything. So, here it is:

Spanish rice
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 onion, chopped
3 3/4 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup tomato sauce (Kiwis, this is not what you call tomato sauce. This is more like tomato puree, but not exactly.)

  1. Saute bell pepper and onion in oil in a skillet until the onions are clear.
  2. Put the bell pepper, onion, rice, chicken broth and tomato sauce in a rice cooker and cook it all. (If you don't have a rice cooker, just do whatever you usually do with rice.)
Use a can of black beans and warm them up.

This varies each time. Usually I marinade it in oil, lime juice, garlic and black pepper and then saute it and shred it. You can also use this mole recipe.

Romaine lettuce
Red onion
Bell pepper (any color)
Olives, sliced
Limes, quartered
Shredded cheese, if you are so inclined

(This is more like the Cafe Rio ranch dressing. If anybody has a recipe for the vinaigrette, I would be much obliged if you could send it my way.)
Salsa verde (jarred green salsa)
Lime juice
Chili powder

I don't know quantities. Sorry. Just start with about 3/4 cup of mayonnaise. Then add some green salsa to taste. Then add a little lime juice, and just keep going until it suits you. The chili powder is mostly for a little color, the taste will be subtle.

Serve all this on a tortilla. We prefer whole wheat because we like our hearts. You can also serve it on tortilla chips, if that floats your boat.


Fionna said...

This sounds so good. I love Cafe-Rio but unfortunately we don't have it here in Canada. I'll have to give this a try.

Jennifer Lee said...

I haven't tried this one yet, but I just bookmarked it this week and am happy to pass it along: http://www.favfamilyrecipes.com/2010/04/our-version-of-cafe-rios-cilantro-lime.html

They also have recipes for the rice, beans, ranch, etc. http://www.favfamilyrecipes.com/2010/04/our-version-of-cafe-rios-sweet-pork.html
I have tried the rice and think it is delicious!

Brianne said...

Thanks, Sherry! We will be having this soon!

Michelle said...

Ummm...yummy! We just had your "Cafe Rio-ish" for dinner. Thank you much!