J. Alexander’s Wild Rice Orzo Salad made fresh and full of flavor! A blend of wild rice, orzo, vegetables, currants, almonds and in a champagne vinaigrette.
One of my favorite summer salads is the one you see below, with it’s abundance of ingredients and confetti colors.
This is actually one of the first recipes I ever blogged. If you were to dig deep into the archives, you’ll see that it’s from way back in 2010, the writing is horrid and that I use way too many exclamation points. Oh wait, I still do. Ha. (Struggling not to insert these —>!!!)
If I close my eyes I can still remember blogging that first post. My bff Nichole helping me chop (at the time I owned one knife and one cutting board) and mince and whisk, while I snapped photos with my crappy Canon point-and-shoot. I felt so professional. Never mind that the photos are shoddy, blurry, totally unappetizing and have since been deleted- at the time I thought they were AH-MAZING! They were so not.
This time around, I’m giving my beloved wild rice orzo salad a redo with better photos, more precise, accurate and fresh ingredients and still keeping the same great, colorful, healthy and delicious salad.
The last time I made this wild rice orzo salad, I just made a big batch of rice and orzo and didn’t bother to list the dry measurements. There was no red winter wheat berries- which I’m told it’s a salad must! Also, in 2010 I couldn’t find champagne vinegar, so I opted to figure out my own substitution. Now, in 2016 I’ve since found champagne vinegar and I’m also using fresh herbs instead of dry and I’ve found red winter wheat.
The bottom line is that it’s just a smidgen different, the differences are minuscule. But this wild rice and orzo salad has never tasted more delicious and fresh.
Start by grabbing a bowl, jar or whatever you’ve got; and add 1 tablespoon of thinly sliced basil, 1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano and 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme.
Then bust out your trust microplane and grate in a medium clove of garlic (about 3/4 of a teaspoon).
Next, measure and add in 1-1/2 tablespoons of sugar (or honey) to sweeten the dressing a smidge.
Then pour in 1/4 cup of champagne vinegar. Quite possibly one of my most favorite of all.
Next, whisk while pouring in 1/2 cup olive oil season with 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt and 1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper and set aside.
Now let’s pull this J. Alexander’s wild rice orzo salad together!
First, into a very large bowl- you’ll need lots of room when it comes to mixing- add the 3 cups of cooked wild rice and 2 cups of the cooked red winter wheat berries. (the dry measurements will be listed in the instructions)
Then add in the 2 cups of cook orzo. I used DeLallo brand because I think their orzo is the prettiest, all long and slender like.
Next add in the beautiful and colorful peppers. That’s 1/2 cup of each color (red, orange, yellow and green).
And then 1 cup corn…
Then 1/3 cup finely diced red onion…
Next add 1/2 cup pan-toasted sliced almonds.
Then 1/3 cup currents. These taste similar to raisins and add the perfect touch of sweetness
Lastly, throw in 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley.
Then toss these ingredients together.
Next, pour in all of the champagne and herb vinaigrette…
Then toss one more time.
Finally it’s time to serve this salad!
To make the prep less daunting, I cook the rice and wheat berries the night before ( in my rice cooker) and then refrigerate it over night. Everything else I make the day of.
There is a lot of texture and flavor happening here. From the crunch of the peppers and almonds, the wholesome flavor of the rice and wheat berries… and that dressing! I think this salad benefits from some time in the fridge, I try to make it far enough in advance that it can chill for a few hours.
Serve this wild rice orzo salad as a side to salmon or shrimp, grilled chicken or as a meatless main dish.
For more salad inspiration, click here!
Enjoy! And if you give this Wild Rice Orzo Salad a try, let me know! Snap a photo and tag me on twitter or instagram!
J. Alexander's Wild Rice and Orzo Salad
FOR THE CHAMPAGNE VINAIGRETTE:
- 1 tablespoon thinly slice fresh basil leaves
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
- 1 clove garlic, grated
- 1½ tablespoons sugar
- 1/4 cup champagne vinegar
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
FOR THE SALAD:
- 3 cups cooked wild rice blend, 1-1/2 cups uncooked
- 2 cups cooked red winter wheat berries, about 1 cup uncooked
- 2 cups cooked orzo pasta, about 1 cup uncooked - I like DeLallo brand
- 1/2 cup finely diced red bell pepper
- 1/2 cup finely diced orange bell peppers
- 1/2 cup finely diced yellow bell pepper
- 1/2 cup finely diced green bell pepper
- 1 cup corn kernels, thawed if frozen
- 1/3 finely diced red onion
- 1/2 cup toasted sliced almonds
- 1/3 cup dried zante currants
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
- In a medium bowl add in the basil, oregano, thyme and garlic. Add in the sugar, pour in the champagne vinegar and whisk while drizzling in the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and set off to the side.
- In a large bowl, combine the cooked wild rice, wheat berries, orzo, peppers, corn, onion, almonds, currants and parsley. Toss to combine.
- Pour in the champagne and herb vinaigrette, toss and either serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to serve.
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THANK YOU in advance for your support!
I made this last summer and LOVED it! I could not find the champagne vinegar though, so I used balsamic. Not the best choice, but it’s all I could find. What’s a better substitution for the champagne vinegar?
Hi Kristen! I would say white wine or rice vinegar would work just fine, but if you ever spot some champagne vinegar, grab it… it’s pretty mild and one of my favorites for a simple vinaigrette. Enjoy!
I love this salad!! I forget about it since I don’t live near a j.alexanders anymore. thanks for the reminder!
Where can I find red winter wheat berries? This is one of my favorite things from j Alexander’s.
Made your first version and loved it. Made this second one and love it just as much 🙂
That is awesome! Thanks for coming back and leaving a review. You rock, my friend! ❤️
Wow, wow, wow! I made this today, absolutely delicious! One thing I noticed, after it sitting in the fridge a few hours, is that the dressing is soaked up by all that deliciousness. I’m making a second batch of dressing to pour over before eating just to moisten it up a little.
Kathy O, I buy the wheat berries from a bulk country store, but my local supermarkets sell it, too, in the organic isle with the quinoa and rice.
Thanks for the recipe, Laurie! I’m making it again for Mother’s Day!
This was great! I used dried cranberries because that’s what I had and I didn’t put in any wheat berries. It was delicious! Super simple and super tasty. I definitely recommend cooking the wild rice the day before like she said., it takes awhile to cook.
Thanks for leaving a recipe review N!
Question about the currants. Do you use actual black currents or zante currants? I’m hoping to make this for thanksgiving and want to make sure I can find all the right ingredients.
Oh great question, Jamie. Dried zante currants! I’ll update the recipe to reflect this! Enjoy!
I love this salad and have made it a couple time as well as get it from J Alexanders as often as possible, the restaurant actually puts black currants and cranberries in the salad and they do seem to add some extra flavor.
Hi Paula! I’ve never noticed cranberries in it when I’ve had it at the restaurant, but adding them couldn’t hurt!
I purchased the salad yesterday and had it for dinner last night. It was my second time eating this beautiful salad and it surprises me how much I enjoy it. I am going to try and make it myself.
Isn’t it amazing! So much flavor and delicious texture. Enjoy, Debra! 🙂
I had this in 2005 several times at J Alexanders in Baton Rouge. So worth the effort. The best rice salad or side i have ever had.
I agree, Lois!
I made this today and found I cooked more rice and wheat berries ( following your direction) than the recipe calls for. Also, I had to cook more orzo because there was hardly any. I wish I knew how to send a picture, as yours is so white with orzo and mine isn’t. Still good though! Thanks for the recipe.
Hi Josie! When cooking grains and pastas, it’s hard to yield exact and precise amounts, so I recommend cooking the amount as directed and then measure the cooked grains afterwards. This way you make more if needed, and I’ll usually save and toss any extra cooked grains in a salad or something.
This dish is the main reason why I go to the restaurant. I just by chance had it the first time I went and have always had it every time I’ve gone back. It is really amazing. I am glad I looked for the recipe.
Went to JA tonite and had this salad-it was so good, i was jumping up in the air hugging myself, like Muttly used to do when given a bone by Boris Bedanov. Unfreakingbelievable! This salad is insane!!!!!
I cant wait to try this! Do you know how well this keeps in the fridge? Will it last through the week?.
Hi Amy! It definitely keeps well and is great for meal prepping or eating throughout the week. You just may want to toss it before reserving. Enjoy!
I am going to attempt to make this for ThanksGiving. With recipe given, how many servings will this yield?
Anxious to try it out!
I as instructions read, how many servings as a side dish would you suggest? Thanks
Hi Don! The recipe states 10 to 12, but if serving generous portions, I would say 8.
This recipe perfectly captures my favorite J. Alexander’s dish – aside from their prime rib! I made it for a casual dinner party and even those who HATE vegetables took seconds and thirds! Success!!! Thank you!
btw, I did offer up some feta for those who like it saltier than I and that too, was a success.
Lots of prep but worth it….next time I’ll do the rice and wheat berries the night before. I found the wheat berries and currants a little hard to find but sourced them eventually….if you get stuck Amazon has them. The only sub I made was shallot for onion. …it’s amazing