Cafe Rio is my ALL TIME FAVORITE MEXICAN FOOD PLACE EVER. I could live on this place. I love their burritos, tacos, salads, quesadillas, etc . . . . My favorite part is their amazing house dressing, which is a creamy tomatillo ranch dressing. Oh - it is to die for. Nothing even comes close to Cafe Rio.
I thought it would be fun to try and make a homemade version of their salad. I have seen copy-cat recipes all over the internet, so I gave some of them a try. Well, it wasn't Cafe Rio, but it was still really really good. It was a lot of work for only two people, but it was still a great way to curb that craving. This would be fun to have for a family get together. You could assign one part to each family member and then have an assembly line to make your own!
Cafe Rio Type Salads
1/2 bottle Kraft Zesty Italian Dressing
1/2 Tbl. chili powder
1/2 Tbl. cumin
1 1/2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 -2 Lbs. chicken breast
Combine dressing, chili powder, cumin and garlic. Pour into crockpot and add chicken. Cook on low for about 4 hours or until done and shreds easily. Shred meat (with the liquid) and cook 1 additional hour. (I had enough extra chicken to use the leftovers in another meal during the week).
Creamy Tomatillo Dressing
1 buttermilk ranch dressing packet
1 c. Mayonnaise
1 c. buttermilk
2-3 tomatillos, husks removed and washed
1/2 bunch of cilantro
1 clove garlic
juice of 1 lime
1 jalapeno, ribbed and seeded
3 green onions, opt.
Add all ingredients to a blender or food processor. Blend until smooth and creamy. Taste and adjust ingredients as needed. Refrigerate for awhile to allow to thicken slightly. (This makes a ton of dressing. I cut the recipe in half and used it for two different meals during the week and I still have some left over).
Cheddar Cheese, shredded
I made 1/4 of a batch of this Mexican Green Rice
1 can black or pinto beans, rinsed and drained
fresh pico de gallo
crunchy corn strips (I cut a few corn tortillas into
strips and fried them in a little bit of vegetable oil
Cotija cheese, for topping (I didn't use)
sprig of cilantro, for garnish
Place flour tortillas on baking sheet. Sprinkle shredded Cheddar cheese over the top of each tortilla. Bake a few minutes until tortilla is slightly crispy and cheese is melted. You still want the tortilla to be soft, you only want it crispy around the edges. Remove from oven and layer with rice, beans, shredded chicken, chopped lettuce, fresh pico, drizzle with dressing and top with crunchy corn strips, crumbled Cotija and top with a spring of fresh cilantro. Serve.