24 May 2011

cafe rio salad with creamy tomatillo-cilantro salad dressing

let's just get this straight.  cafe rio is not my all-time favorite restaurant.  in fact, when i visit utah, i never go to cafe rio.  ok, now that i've got that off my chest, i can continue...

a long while back, when we moved to new orleans, layton (my handsome husband) and i were craving a cafe rio salad.  i think we all can agree that an occasional cafe rio salad tastes great.  so being the clever little self that i am, i started searching for a recipe to make my own salad dressing in the comfort of our cozy little apartment in downtown new orleans.  i found it!  i'd love to give credit to the source where i found it, but that was 7 years ago.  it is a true winner, though!  i made it for a few years and then stopped.  do you ever do that with a recipe?  i realized just last week that i hadn't made it in years!  i ate this salad every day last week until the dressing was gone.  so for all you cafe-rio lovers or occasional cafe-rio cravers, this one's for you!  and for those who have never eaten at cafe rio, i promise you'll love it, too! 

creamy tomatillo-cilantro salad dressing

go easy on the garlic and cayenne - add more later if you want it to be spicier.  the longer the dressing sits, the spicier it gets.

3 fresh tomatillos, cut into quarters
1 pkg ranch buttermilk dressing mix
1 cup mayonnaise*
1/3 to 1/2 cup buttermilk
1 cup fresh cilantro
2 cloves crushed garlic
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

combine all ingredients in a blender and refrigerate at least one hour.  *for a thicker dressing, reduce mayo to 1/2 cup and add 1/2 cup sour cream to mixture.

salad ingredients

colby jack cheese
black or pinto beans
chicken, pork or beef (i actually like it with no meat.  the salad dressing acts as a great marinade for chicken!)
fresh cilantro
romaine lettuce, shredded
tortilla chips, crushed
lime wedges

to assemble salad:
melt cheese on tortillas (i like doing it SLOWLY under the broiler or individually in a non-stick skillet on the stove.)  add beans and meat.  top with fresh cilantro and lettuce and sprinkle crushed tortilla chips on top.  squirt lime juice on and drizzle the creamy tomatillo-cilantro dressing over salad.  enjoy!

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