Tropical Chicken and Rice Towers with Cilantro-Lime Dressing


I love elegant dishes that are deceptively easy to create.  This is one of those dishes. The best part is that it doesn’t require any fancy equipment.  Don’t get me wrong, I love all of the fancy garnishing tools, and if money were no object, I would buy every gizmo and gadget under the sun.  One such tool that I would love, is a ring mold. You just can’t beat the simple elegance that a ring mold can help you create.  But if you are like me, and have yet to purchase the ring mold in your amazon shopping cart, you can do this…




Just use a sharp knife and gently cut the bottom of a plastic cup. Simple, easy, and this really works.  So let’s get started.

First, make the chicken and rice (or as my Colombian husband would say “arroz con pollo”).  Start by melting two tablespoons of butter in a large skillet. Add the rice and cook about two minutes over medium heat, or until slightly browned. Add garlic and cook until fragrant (about 30 seconds). Add the chicken broth, cumin, turmeric, paprika, and salt; bring to a boil.  Once the mixture is boiling, cover and lower heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes. Try to refrain from lifting the lid while cooking the rice. After 30 minutes, stir in cooked chicken and frozen peas and carrots.  Recover, and let rest for 10 minutes.

While rice is simmering, heat oil in a skillet over medium high heat for 3 minutes. Once the oil is hot, add the pineapple, bell pepper, corn, garlic, cilantro, salt, and pepper. Stir occasionally. You don’t want to stir it too often. You want the mixture to caramelize a little bit and look like this…


Next, make the avocado-tomato salad.  But first, make sure there are no toddlers in your kitchen or this could happen to you…


Ok, back to the avocado-tomato salad. Simply mix the diced tomatoes and avocado and season with salt and pepper….Easy.

The easiest way to dice the avocado is to first slice it in half…


…and then slice it diagonally both ways.  Like this…


Then scoop out the avocado with a spoon.


Next, its time to make an amazing cilantro-lime dressing.  Don’t skip this.  You would be doing yourself a disservice. This sauce brings everything together with its smooth, creamy, full of lime flavor.  It truly is amazing.  Ready?

Grab a food processor that your wonderful parents bought for you (thanks mama and daddy), and add all the delicious ingredients. Process until smooth (about 1 minute) and add to a Ziploc bag.  Cut the corner tip of the bag and use it to pipe a zig-zag pattern on your plate like this…


As you can see, it doesn’t have to be perfect. Carefully set your cup on the plate.


Add a layer of the avocado-tomato salad


Make sure you pack it in tight. Next add the chicken and rice mixture


And finally, add the tropical salsa.


Again, make sure that everything is packed tight in the cup.


Then slowly lift the cup


Very slowly


Tada! Isn’t that amazing?


Now garnish with a few extra cilantro leaves


Simple Elegance


Tropical Chicken and Rice Towers with Cilantro-Lime Dressing

Tropical Chicken and Rice Towers with Cilantro-Lime Dressing


    For the Chicken and Rice:
  1. 2 tablespoons of butter
  2. 2 cups of rice
  3. 1 clove of garlic (diced or pressed through a garlic press)
  4. 1 tablespoon cumin
  5. 1 teaspoon turmeric
  6. 1 teaspoon smoked paprika (regular paprika would work fine as well)
  7. 4 cups of chicken broth
  8. 1/2 teaspoon salt
  9. 2 cups of cooked, shredded chicken
  10. 1 cup of mixed frozen peas and carrots
  11. For the tropical salsa
  12. 1 tablespoon oil
  13. 1/2 cup red bell pepper
  14. 1/2 cup chopped pineapple (I used canned pineapple)
  15. 1/2 cup corn (I used canned)
  16. 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  17. Salt and pepper to taste
  18. For the avocado-tomato salad
  19. 4 roma tomatoes
  20. 2 avocados
  21. Salt and pepper to taste
  22. For the cilantro-lime dressing
  23. 1/2 cup chopped cilantro (plus extra for garnishing)
  24. 1 cup mayonnaise
  25. 2 tablespoons lime juice
  26. Salt and pepper to taste


    For Chicken and Rice
  • Melt butter over medium high heat, add rice and cook about five minutes or until slightly brown
  • Add garlic, cumin, turmeric, and paprika and cook about 30 seconds, or until fragrant
  • Add chicken broth and salt and bring to a boil; then cover, reduce heat to low and cook for 30 minutes (try not to lift the lid during this process)
  • Remove from heat, mix in chicken and frozen peas and carrots; recover. Leave covered for 10 more minutes.
  • For the Tropical Salsa
  • Heat oil in skillet over medium high heat for 3 minutes.
  • Add bell pepper, pineapple, corn, cilantro, salt, and pepper.
  • Cook stirring occasionally until mixture begins to look "grilled" or "caramelized"
  • For the Avocado-Tomato Salad
  • Chop the tomato and avocado; mix both together and season with salt and pepper.
  • For the Cilantro-Lime Dressing
  • Add cilantro, mayonnaise, lime juice, salt, and pepper to a food processor.
  • Process about one minute or until smooth.
  • Spoon mixture into a baggie.
  • To Assemble
  • Cut corner tip of baggie containing the dressing, and pipe zig-zag pattern onto plate.
  • Place ring mold or cup that has had the bottom cut off (see above) on the plate.
  • Spoon avocado-tomato salad first into the cup or ring mold, making sure to pack it down tightly, followed by the chicken and rice mixture, and finally the tropical salsa.
  • Carefully lift the cup or ring mold off the plate.
  • Garnish with extra cilantro leaves.

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4 thoughts on “Tropical Chicken and Rice Towers with Cilantro-Lime Dressing

    • Katil

      I use this style of recipe all the time. I put in what is in the fidrge as far as veg goes. Cucumber, peppers of any kind, don’t use cilantro as my husband doesn’t care for it much. I also use leftover salsa for the dressing with the addition of a squeeze of lime. If I have leftover pesto I make a white bean version that’s good too. Also this salad will last in the fidrge several days. I make it when I have house guests so there is always something healthy to snack on.

      • Heather Post author

        Yes, there are so many ways you could alter this recipe with what you have on hand. Thanks for the ideas 🙂