Caribbean Cha Cha Bowls
Ever had a Cha Cha Bowl from Orlando Cepeda’s Caribbean BBQ at a Giant’s baseball game? It’s a big bowl of yum in the form of grilled jerk-seasoned chicken mixed with a flavorful, tangy zucchini slaw, all over rice. I guess it’s a little odd to post a recipe inspired by stadium food, but this is something you actually want to eat. If you’re like me, this might even be something you crave, especially when spring training seems like light years away and “that other sport” keeps weaseling its way into your Sundays, Saturdays (Mondays, Thursdays….). Don’t even get me started about fantasy football!
Are you noticing a theme lately here at Casa Stacie? We keep coming back to dinner in a bowl (Mission Street Food’s Sesame-Avocado Rice, Vietnamese Noodle Bowls to name two of our other favorites) and we’re loving it. These kinds of meals are about fuss-free as you can get. They’re easy to throw together which makes the cook happy, they offer endless variation, and we all enjoy customizing things according to our individual preferences. Tim, my favorite extreme saucer and chile-head, can sauce it up to his heart’s content. Luca can kinda of keep things quarantined in their separate corners as kids do. The bambino can have his all scrambled up into a big mess which is how he rolls. And I can layer and assemble as I eat which is my favored technique.
So next time you’re in the mood for an easy, healthful, fuss-free dinner, give the famous cha cha bowl a try. I can almost guarantee that you’ll be able to smell the freshly cut grass, feel the warmth of a sunny day and hear a splash homerun into McCovey Cove. Man, I can’t wait for spring!
Orlando Cepeda’s Cha Cha Bowls
(My adaptation is a simplified version of the original recipe which can be found here, over at the Food Network website)
Zucchini-Carrot-Pineapple Slaw It’s definitely all about the slaw in this dish so you might want to double up. (You can prep the vegetables and dressing a few hours or up to a day in advance and dress the slaw right before serving.)
1. Cut 2 carrots and 2 zucchini into thin matchsticks. I would definitely take the time to cut them into matchsticks vs. grating them, but if you must grate them you’ll probably want to give them a good squeeze before dressing them to eliminate some of the excess liquid. Toss the zucchini and carrots together in a small bowl along with a handful of chopped cilantro. Tuck in a damp paper towel, cover tightly and store in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
2. Whisk together the ingredients for the dressing:
- 2/3 cup crushed pineapple, drained
- 2 Tbl rice wine vinegar
- 2 Tbl olive oil
- 1 tsp salt
- Juice of 1 lime
- freshly cracked pepper to taste
3. Toss the vegetables with the dressing right before assembling the bowls. Taste and correct seasoning as needed.
Slaw’s done, you’re nearly there. All you need to do is plunk everything into serving bowls and let your family dig in!
- zucchini-carrot-pineapple slaw
- steamed rice (or substitute brown rice or your favorite whole grain)
- grilled or rotisserie chicken, shredded (jerk-seasoned chicken would be extra tasty). You can substitute seafood, another meat, or omit it altogether for a vegetarian version.
- black beans (Orlando seasons his with sauteed garlic).
- shredded cheese (try monterey jack or crumbled cotija)
- optional: lime wedges, minced chile, hot sauce (I really like my favorite homemade charred, un-spicy salsa with this)