My friend Stephanie has RAVED about the dish forever: Orzo and Wild Rice from J. Alexanders (in Chattanooga). Typically when I’ve eaten there, I’ll opt for a side dish that might just have a wee more calories… Loaded baked potato or wild rice–is it really a question?
But yesterday I hosted a birthday lunch for a friend and I wanted something different and delicious. My main dish was a grilled chicken salad (not a mayo version but tossed with grapes, tarragon and oodles of wonderfulness) and I wanted something special to pair with it. J. Alexander’s Orzo and Wild Rice came to mind so I googled copycat recipes and found several.
The dish is colorful and beautiful and brimming with flavor. Every person at lunch got a second helping and wanted the recipe.
Below is my adaptation of CD Kitchen’s version (mostly the same with a few modifications). I’ve added Cooks Notes below so you can see what I did differently.
Orzo & Wild Rice
~ a J. Alexander’s copycat recipe ~
- 2 cups cooked Rice Select Tri-Colored Orzo (it’s so much prettier than plain!)
- 1 cup cooked wild rice
- 3 tablespoons diced red onions
- 3 tablespoons Craisins
- 3 tablespoons corn niblets
- 4 ½ tablespoons diced orange bell pepper
- 4 ½ tablespoons diced green bell pepper
- 2+ tablespoons chopped fresh basil
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup chopped parsley
Orzo & Wild Rice Dressing
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/8 cup white balsamic vinegar
- 1 1/2 tablespoon honey
- 1/4 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1/4 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1/8 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
- 1/2 tablespoon fresh basil, chopped
Cook orzo and wild rice according to package instructions. Rinse (or “shock”) in cold water and drain well. Refrigerate. While cooking and chilling, chop up ingredients.
Gently toss together pasta, rice, veggies, herbs and dressing. Refrigerate at least two hours and serve cold.
Dressing: Reserving vegetable and olive oil, place remaining ingredients in a mixing bowl and stir until blended. Slowly drizzle the oil into your bowl while whisking into ingredients; I prefer using my immersion blender with the whisk attachment because it does the work for me!
- Original CC recipe calls for currants; I keep Craisins on hand and decided it wasn’t worth it to buy something extra if I had a good alternative as a staple.
- Original recipe calls for 2 Tbls corn niblets; since I steamed a whole bag of corn, I added an extra tablespoon. I like the color it adds, plus corn is a secondary love language :).
- Original recipe called for 3 Tbls each of yellow/red/green bell pepper. I already had green and orange, so I just made sure to have 9 Tbls total. Colorful peppers are healthy AND add so much beauty to a dish. Don’t just go with green.
- DO NOT USE DRIED HERBS FOR THIS RECIPE!! Fresh basil and parsley make ALL the difference!!!
- Original recipe called for canola oil; I stopped buying that ages ago so used vegetable oil.
- You’ll pay a premium for tri-colored orzo, but to me, worth it.
- I used Uncle Ben’s Wild Rice & it was delicious…maybe because of the flavor pack.
Make this dish SOON and tell me what you think! In the meantime, be sure to pin it and share it with your friends…they’ll be glad you did!