Private chef Doug Ruddle of Memphis, Tenn., shares a simple, versatile side dish perfect for winter.
Orzo and Wild Rice with Dried Fruit
Chef Ruddle says this dish goes well with fish, pork, chicken or beef, and can be served cold or warm, making it extremely versatile. He says you can also substitute your favorite dried fruits instead of the cherries or currants. Plus, it couldn’t be simpler to make.
2 cups orzo pasta
1 cup wild rice
1 red bell pepper, diced small
1 yellow bell pepper, diced small
10 oz slivered almonds, toasted
8 oz currants
8 oz dried cherries, roughly chopped
3 T balsamic vinegar
1 T olive oil
¼ cup brown sugar
Salt and pepper to taste
Cook orzo and wild rice according to package directions. To toast almonds, bake on cookie sheet at 350 degrees for approximately 8 minutes or until a light golden brown. Drain orzo and toss with olive oil. Add the remaining ingredients and mix. The recipe is best if left to marinate for a couple of hours.
Meet the Chef
Six years ago, Doug Ruddle left behind a 25-year career at FedEx to pursue his love of cooking. He attended the Memphis Culinary Academy and now owns Chef’s Palette, a catering and personal chef company. He teaches cooking classes at health clubs and gourmet kitchen stores like Williams-Sonoma.
In addition to his cooking, Ruddle is also the vice president of operations for Start 2 Finish Event Management, which puts on races such as the Memphis in May Triathlon, and he coaches high-school girls’ cross-country and track and field teams. It’s his coaching that helps him train for triathlon. “It all fits together really well,” he says. “I run with my cross-country team, so that helps me manage my time better.”
Ruddle has raced everything from sprint races to the half-iron distance, although he says the Olympic distance suits him best. He started racing in the mid-’90s in an attempt to lose weight, and ended up as a USA Triathlon All-American in 1994 and 1995. His favorite race was the Age Group World Championship in Honolulu, Hawaii.
Despite living in landlocked Memphis, Tenn., his favorite cuisine to cook is seafood. “I love everything about the ocean, so I love to cook seafood dishes,” he says (he prefers grilling or sautéing). To get the freshest fish, though, “I’ll order it online and have it shipped overnight.”