And I saw that it was good

Last week AA and I met up for lunch at Cafe Rio, where I got reacquainted with the marvelous thing that is the Cafe Rio salad. Normally I get mine with chicken but they've bumped up the prices since I was there last. When I got done sputtering and talking about how back in my day prices were much more reasonable and young whippersnappers respected their elders, I ordered one without meat. Of course I still couldn't finish it. The next day Jenny and I split the leftovers and added more lettuce, tomatoes, and cheese. So I got three meals out of the thing. Darn straight.

Here is me being happy with my salad. Don't let the tired, vacant look and flat desert-hating hair fool you.

It starts with the warm tortilla. Then it's rice, black beans, meat, romaine lettuce, pico de gallo, a scoop of guacamole, fresh cilantro, crispy chip strips, a sprinkling of cojita cheese (no idea where to find that, but that's what they use) and 2 lime segments.

Here is a copycat recipe for the salad. I can't vouch for it or anything, but it's worth a shot. Jen says the dressing is good, but not as good as the real thing, which I would drink from a carton if I could. This girl uses pork but I like chicken instead.

Note for UK friends: Cilantro = Coriander. And I don't know what you're going to do about the black beans, since I certainly never found cans of those things when I was in England. Maybe you can find them dry somewhere. And I don't know where you can find tomatillos.

Cafe Rio Salad

Recipe By: pinkdaisy (as found at Mormonchic.com)

Sweet Pork:

  • 1 (3-5 pound) pork roast-boneless pork loin recommended
  • 1 cup salsa-use Pace or one similar, not the fresh salsas
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed

Place ingredients in a greased slow cooker. Cover and cook on LOW heat for 8-10 hours. Shred pork with a fork or potato masher before serving. Keep lid off after shredding for about 15 minutes so juice will thicken. Use meat in burritos, tacos, or salads. If freezing, keep juice and freeze with meat.

Cilantro-Lime Rice:

  • 1 cup uncooked rice
  • 1 teaspoon butter or margarine
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon lime zest
  • 1 can (15 oz) chicken broth
  • 1 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons fresh chopped cilantro

In a saucepan combine rice, butter, garlic, lime peel, chicken broth and water. Bring to a boil. Cover and cook 15-20 minutes, until rice is tender. Remove from heat. In a small bowl combine lime juice, sugar and cilantro. Pour over hot cooked rice.

Creamy Tomatillo Salad Dressing:

  • 1 cup light sour cream
  • 1 envelope Ranch salad dressing
  • 1 1/2 envelope Fiesta Ranch Salad dressing
  • 6 tomatillos, husked and cut in half
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • Juice from 2 limes, freshly squeezed
  • 1 1/4 cup fresh chopped cilantro

Combine all ingredients in a blender (put the liquids in first!) and blend until smooth. Store in the refrigerator. Can be stored in airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

Black Beans:

  • 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 1/3 cup tomato juice
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons fresh chopped cilantro

In a nonstick skillet, cook garlic and cumin in olive oil over medium heat until you can smell it. Add beans, tomato juice, and salt. Continually stir until heated through. Just before serving stir in the cilantro.

Crispy Corn Chips:

Preheat oven to 400 F. Slice corn tortillas into thin strips. Bake for about 8 minutes.

For the tortilla we like the tortillas fiom Costco that you bake yourselves. If using these bake as directed and add cheddar cheese to the top until lightly browned. If using regular tortillas, you can put the tortilla in a pie pan in the oven with cheese sprinkled on top until warm

The meat, rice, dressing and beans can all be made the night before or over a several day period and will last in the fridge so it's not so much work all at once. Enjoy!


The McCulloch Family said... [reply]

Oh, FYI, these recipes are a little heavy on the lime. I would half it if I were you and then add more if you want it. The beans and salad dressing in particular were too limey.

noelle feather said... [reply]

OHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH, Cafe Rio. How I miss your lovely Key Lime Pie. Their KLP is the best, esp. with the real lime pieces on top. YUMMY.

Claire said... [reply]

I am so grateful to you for this. I about died of hunger cravings when I saw that picture. I'm not-so-patiently waiting for a franchise to open up near me.

chosha said... [reply]

That's the first time I ever read about a SALAD and thought, 'whoa, that sounds just decadent', haha. Thanks for the translation, I'd forgotten what cilantro was.

By the way, that's your hair being flat...o_O?

stupidramblings said... [reply]

Cafe Rio is my friend.

And I went to your chocolate show with my wife Limpy, my sister Mortimer and the first mate. I totally bought the set of pots & pans. And some chocolate. Lots of it, in fact.

Panini said... [reply]

my gosh I love that place. do you have the recipe for the cilantro-lime dressing? cause that one's my favorite--I like to mix the two together.

Desmama said... [reply]

L**** got a Cafe Rio while I was gone. My happiness was made complete when I came back and it was here.

Rachel said... [reply]

Next time I'm in the Provo area I'll look you up and we can do some tamatillo dressing shots together. I LOVE that stuff. And I love Café Rio. I usually get the veggie salad with no rice (it tastes like dirt to me--literally, dirt) and pinto beans. It's heaven in faux salad form.

amyjane said... [reply]

That's a lot of cooking. I think I'll just give them my $7.95 to make it for me when I come home for Christmas.
I also like to mix the two dressings together. YUM-O!

Unmanagable said... [reply]

Dear Nem. The pictures are beautiful. I am debating (heavily) about scooting to the commissary and making them tonight. I would have to buy a slow cooker, though. Curses.
P.S. I think you're hot.

Nemesis said... [reply]

My dear brother, you wouldn't need to get a slow-cooker. Just grill up some chicken & you'll be fine!

Un6abe3y! said... [reply]

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Anonymous said... [reply]

Just a question. How many servings are each of these recipe's? Thanks

Anonymous said... [reply]

FYI- Check your local grocery store, in the produce department, for your Tomatillos. I love Tomatillo salsa and make it all the time!

Anonymous said... [reply]

do you know the chicken recipe? (not the grilled)

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