Thursday, May 3, 2018

Copycat Taco Bell Cantina Bowl

We all have that one fast food meal that is our weakness.  For me, it's the Taco Bell Cantina Bowl.  I love it and would eat one every other day if it was possible.  I live twenty miles from the nearest Taco Bell and I know that eating there three times a week isn't the healthiest option.  The better option is the make a copycat version at home where I can control the ingredients.

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We are a busy couple.  I work a "real" job, run two blogs, and all of the social media that goes with them and Paul works a "real" job and does all of the vintage sewing machine posts on the sewing blog.  He also has Celiac which means anything I cook for him must be gluten-free.  Needless to say, I love quick meals so I can move on to another blog project.

If you need to make this gluten-free double check your labels to make sure everything is gluten-free.  I know that the list of ingredients looks overwhelming but I am going to guess that you have most of it in your pantry or refrigerator.  Also, there's no shame in taking a little help from the grocery store and using a pre-cooked protein.  There are a lot of good quality pre-cooked fajita meat in the grocery store today. Or for a meatless option just skip the fajita meat altogether.  Trust me you won't miss it and if you are worried about it being filling enough double up the corn and black bean relish.

Cilantro Lime Dressing

8 sprigs cilantro
1 cup mayo
1/3 cup buttermilk or lactose free milk *
2 teaspoons lime juice
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar (omit if using buttermilk)
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon minced garlic
salt and pepper to taste

Lime Rice

1 1/2 Tablespoons butter
1 1/2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 cups long grain white rice
1 lime, zested and juiced
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
3 2/3 cups water

Black Bean & Corn Relish

1 Tablespoon butter
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 12 oz package frozen corn
1 15 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 teaspoon lime juice
salt and pepper to taste

Other Ingredients 

Fajita meat - chicken or beef or omit for a vegetarian meal
1 head of romaine lettuce shredded
Sour Cream (optional)
Guacamole (optional)
Lime Wedges (optional)

Let's put this thing together!  It really goes together quickly and you can make the dressing up ahead of time and keep it in the fridge until you are ready to use it.

Cilantro Dressing 

Paul has lactose issues so we use lactose-free milk.  I have made it with buttermilk but you can't tell the difference.  I have not made it with nut milk though so if you do, taste and adjust the seasoning as needed.

In your blender add your cilantro, sugar, and lime juice.  Blend just until the cilantro is chopped.  Add the rest of the ingredients and blend.  Pour into a measuring cup, cover, and place in the fridge.  A measuring cup will make it easier to pour when you are ready to eat.

Lime Rice

In a 3 qt. stockpot, melt the butter and olive oil together.  Add the rice and stir to coat the grains in the butter and oil.  Let cook stirring occasionally until the rice just starts to brown. It will also start to smell slightly nutty. Add the lime juice, zest, Kosher salt, and water.   Bring to a boil and then cover and turn the heat down so it simmers.  Cook until the liquid is absorbed, about 20 minutes.  Remove from heat and let stand 5 minutes before you remove the lid.

Black Bean and Corn Relish

*start about halfway through the rice's cooking time so everything is done at the same time*

In a skillet melt the butter and olive oil together.  When hot add the corn DO NOT STIR.  Just let the corn sit so that it starts to brown.  It will take a bit but you'll know it's starting to brown when it starts to pop.  Do not stir until you hear the popping noise.  Once the corn has browned add your black beans.  Stir them in and let them cook about one minute then add your lime juice, salt, and pepper. Remove from heat.

Prepare your chosen protein.  For this bowl, I used pre-cooked chicken.  I have also used leftover steak or chicken to do it as well.  Or like I said earlier skip it all together and make this a meatless option.  The three other components are what make this meal, not the meat.

Assembling The Copycat Taco Bell Cantina Bowl

In the bottom of your bowl put a layer of rice, then the relish, then meat, then lettuce, and top with the dressing.  A little of the dressing goes a long way for that huge bowl pictured above I used about 2 teaspoons.  Use as little or as much as you want though.  You can also top with sour cream and guac if you like.

Do you have a favorite fast food meal you want to copycat at home?  Let me know in the comments below.  If you want more great meal ideas and other ideas to make your house a home sign up for our newsletter below.

Home Ec. Mel
Home Ec. Mel

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