Thursday, July 10, 2014

J. Alexander’s Orzo & Wild Rice Salad

I had lunch at J. Alexander’s yesterday – I hadn’t been there in a year or two, but I love it.  My favorite food they make is their Orzo and Wild Rice – it is just a side, but it is one of the best dishes you’ll ever have.  It is served cold and is a mix of so many delicious fresh ingredients.  I’ve never really known exactly what was in it, but today I found a copycat recipe on  If you don’t have a J. Alexander’s near you, I’d recommend trying this recipe out.  If you do have one in town, the orzo is only $5 so it’s probably easier to just pick it up at your local restaurant (you can get it to go if you want to serve it at home and impress your family or guests). 

The recipe looks relatively easy – but it does take some time to prepare since it requires several hours of refrigeration so the dressing soaks into the other ingredients.  You probably have at least half the ingredients already at home.  If you want to give it a try, here you go:

Copycat J. Alexander’s Orzo & Wild Rice Salad

·         ½ cup wild rice, uncooked
·         2 cups water
·         1 cup orzo pasta
·         3 T chopped red onion
·         3 T dried currants
·         2 T corn kernels, drained
·         3 T diced yellow bell pepper
·         3 T diced red bell pepper
·         3 T diced green bell pepper
·         2 T chopped fresh basil
·         ½ t salt
·         ½ t ground black pepper

·         2 T white balsamic vinegar
·         1½ T honey
·         ¾ t Dijon mustard
·         ¼ t minced garlic
·         1/8 t pepper
·         1 ½ t chopped fresh basil
·         ¼ cup canola oil
·         ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil 


1. Bring the wild rice and water to a boil in a saucepan. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until the rice is tender but not mushy, 20 to 45 minutes depending on the variety of wild rice. Drain off any excess liquid, fluff the rice with a fork, and cook uncovered 5 minutes more. Once finished, spread into a shallow dish, and refrigerate until cold.

2. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add the orzo pasta, and cook until al dente, 7 to 8 minute. Drain, rinse with cold water, and chill.

3. Place the chilled rice and orzo into a large mixing bowl. Stir in the red onion, currants, corn, yellow bell pepper, red bell pepper, and green bell pepper. Season with 2 tablespoons basil, salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. 

4. In a separate bowl, whisk together the vinegar, honey, mustard, garlic, 1/8 teaspoon pepper, and 1 1/2 teaspoons basil. Slowly whisk in the canola and olive oils until emulsified. 

5. Stir the dressing into the pasta, and refrigerate 2 hours before serving.

J. Alexander’s has several locations.  The South Tampa one is located at 913 N Dale Mabry Hwy, Tampa, FL 33609 and is open 11am – 10pm Sunday through Thursday and 10am – 11pm Friday & Saturday. 

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