Orzo & Wild Rice Salad

What an eventful week!  The 4th always brings lots of fun, memories, and food!  After the burgers & desserts that accompanied the fireworks I had to make something light, chilled, and refreshing for this HOT summer we’re having in Florida.  This little chilled salad is perfect!

I was inspired, once again, by J. Alexander’s and their orzo & wild rice salad.  That side is one of my husband’s favorites, so I decided to make my own version.  Cherries are in season and so delicious, so I wanted to make those the star of this dish.  This is the type of dish where measurements don’t really matter, as long as you’re happy with the look of the salad and ratio of ingredients.  But for all those OCD folks, I listed the measurements I used.

Chilled Orzo & Wild Rice Salad

Serves 10

2C orzo pasta

1C wild rice

1/2C red winter wheat berries

2 handfuls of fresh cherries

1 ear of corn

½ red bell pepper, diced

½ green bell pepper, diced

1 handful of raw almonds

5-10 basil leaves

1/3C olive oil

2T balsamic vinegar

1-2T lemon juice

1/2t pepper

1/4t salt

1T cherry juice, optional

Cook the orzo, wild rice, and wheat berries according to the package directions on the stovetop.  Meanwhile, roast your corn in the oven at 350 for 20-30 minutes.  Leave the husk on (it holds in juicy moisture) but rinse it off before placing in oven.  Also, this is a good time to stem, pit, and slice the cherries.  I used my handy dandy cherry pitter from Williams-Sonoma.  It shoots through the cherry taking only the pit and occasionally a small circle from the bottom of the cherry.  Otherwise the cherry is perfectly in tact.  I shot the pits directly into a deep garbage can…and still managed to get cherry juice on the side of my white fridge.  Clorox wipes to the rescue!

Since cherries are notorious for staining, and I didn’t want my pasta pink, I sliced them each in half and let them sit on paper towels for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, I roughly chopped the almonds.  If you want to save some time, or really want everything to be symmetrical, you could pre-buy slivered almonds.  But, I like the rough and tumble, all natural, hand-made, rustic feeling of this dish, so I roughly chopped away.

Then, I julienned the basil.

And made the dressing.  I first combined the salt, pepper, half the basil, & vinegar

with the lemon juice.  This would be the time to add a Tablespoon or two of cherry juice if you’d like, but if not, add extra lemon juice.

Blend together well.

Once blended together, slowly, and I mean slowly incorporate the oil a little bit at a time, and set aside.  At this point, the corn should be about ready and whenever the orzo, wild rice, and wheat berries are ready, they should be cooling at first on the stove top, then in the fridge.  Don’t forget to rinse the starch from the orzo.  Though it looks like rice, you’re still dealing with pasta!  Cut the corn off the cob and assemble your ingredients together.  You’re almost ready!

I first started with the orzo, wild rice, and wheat berries to make sure I had a good ratio of each and that it looked pleasing.  (I didn’t end up using all my wild rice.)

Then added the veggies (I used them all!)

then lastly the nuts, fruit, remaining basil, and dressing.  Stir well and chill for at least an hour to let the flavors develop.  Enjoy!

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