J. Alexander’s…[smile]

5 Mar

Today, I got to enjoy one of my favorite restaurants with one of my most favorite people — my friend, Connie. We met for lunch at J. Alexander's and ate and chatted for about two hours. It was much-needed adult time for me. Thanks, Connie!

I love the food at J. Alexander's. So fresh and delicious. You're probably wondering what on earth a vegan orders in a non-vegan restaurant. I think I did pretty well. I ordered the Vegetable Plate, which basically means you pick four sides and they bring them out on one big platter. I ordered my usual favorite — the Orzo and Wild Rice. I also had the Israeli Couscous and some of their focaccia bread, which they drizzle with honey mustard. I could have ordered the steamed broccoli for my fourth item, but the vegetable of the day was roasted butternut squash with a brown sugar sauce, and I couldn't resist it even though I'm sure it had some butter in it. It was heavenly, even if not 100% vegan. 

If you haven't had the pleasure of dining at J. Alexander's, the Orzo and Wild Rice is phenomenal. The first time I had it was years ago when my husband and I were there with my parents. My mom and I loved it so much we dissected it at home and came up with our own version that is very close in taste to the original. I have no idea how similar this is to the J. Alexander's recipe; it's just what we figured out by using our eyes and tastebuds. It has a lot of ingredients, but it's really easy to make. You can serve this chilled or at room temperature and it holds up very well even a day or two later. If you aren't vegan, it's the perfect side dish for grilled chicken or salmon.
serves 8-10
3/4 cup orzo
1/2 cup wild rice
3/4 cup diced red pepper
1/3 cup currants (or raisins)
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup sliced green onions
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
1 tablespoon chopped chives
3/4 cup frozen corn, thawed
1/2 cup slivered almonds, toasted in a dry pan over medium heat
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
5 cloves garlic, roasted (see note below)
1/2 tablespoon Worchestershire sauce
juice of 1 lime
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
squeeze of fresh orange juice
salt and pepper to taste
Bring 2 cups water to a boil in a small saucepan. Stir in the orzo and cook 5 minutes. Drain and cool. Bring 2 cups water to a boil in the same pan. Stir in wild rice. Reduce heat to low, cover the pan and simmer about 60 minutes or until rice is cooked. Drain and cool.
To make the dressing, squeeze roasted garlic from the skins and mash with a fork. Add the Worchestershire sauce, lime juice, olive oil, vinegar and orange juice. Whisk hard until well blended.
Combine red peppers, currants, cranberries, green onions, parsley, chives and corn in a large bowl. Stir in the orzo, rice, almonds and basil. Add the dressing and toss. Season with salt and pepper. Enjoy!
Note: To roast garlic, simply heat your oven to 400 degrees. Remove the papery outside of a head of garlic and place the cloves on a piece of foil. Drizzle a little olive oil on top and seal the foil tightly. Bake for 20-30 minutes or until soft. Squeeze the cloves to get the roasted garlic out of the skins.

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One Response to “J. Alexander’s…[smile]”

  1. Vanessa March 6, 2010 at 9:45 am #

    J.Alexander's is one of my favorite places to eat too.

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