Close up of chef looking at dish

Chef Jasper J. Mirabile Jr. wowed us with his Cherry & Almond Wild Rice. “I wanted to put an Italian spin on wild rice, plus add seasonality to the mix,” says Chef Mirabile Jr., chef/co-owner of Jasper’s Restaurant in Kansas City, Mo., and chairman of Slow Food Kansas City.

Side dishes are a great place for menu distinction, offering diners a welcome respite from old standbys like mashed potatoes or fries. And InHarvest’s wild rice delivers a uniquely American story to the menu.

  • Who: Jasper J. Mirabile Jr., chef/co-owner
  • Where: Jasper’s Restaurant and Marco Polo’s Italian Market, Kansas City, Mo.
  • What: 170-seat independent operation that serves Italian food steeped in a proud family tradition
  • Dayparts:  lunch, dinner and catering events

jaspers restaurant italian

On an average Saturday night, Jasper’s serves about 300 covers. This family-owned Italian restaurant is an institution in Kansas City, with a history that dates back to 1954, when Chef Mirabile Jr.’s father ran the kitchen while the son watched, learned and then took the reigns in the ‘80s. One of its signature dishes? Scampi alla Livornese. “It’s really Pimontese, but the printer made a mistake back in 1954, and my father couldn’t afford to get it reprinted,” says Chef Mirabile Jr. “It’s one of our most popular dishes, and one of the only recipes my father insisted that we not share.” Sautéed shrimp gets tossed in a proprietary sherry-laced cream sauce—all over a bed of wild rice. “My father was going to do it over risotto, but back in the fifties, not many folks here knew what that was,” he said. “He served it with wild rice instead and we’ve never looked back. It’s a huge seller.”

For InHarvest’s Go Wild! Summer Recipe Contest, which challenged Facebook fans to create a summer application using InHarvest Grade A Wild Rice, Chef Mirabile Jr. developed Cherry & Almond Wild Rice. He paired it with roasted chicken cooked with Bing cherries and orange slices. “We loved how Chef Mirabile Jr. flavored the wild rice,” says Michael Holleman, director of culinary development for InHarvest. After cooking the rice, he caramelizes onion, adds tomato and then the cooked rice, Bing cherries and almonds. For an Italian slant, he finishes both the wild rice and chicken with a quick sauce made with amaretto and salt. “The cherries add sweetness, texture and seasonality,” says Chef Mirabile Jr. “This dish can move easily into the fall and winter with cranberries or blood orange instead of the cherries.”

Another Take on Wild Rice

  • The dish: Scaloppine Di Vitello Don Salvatore Veal medallions cooked with mushroom, garlic, artichoke hearts and Chianti, served over wild rice studded with sautéed tomatoes and onion, finished with white pepper and sea salt.
  • Sound byte: “It’s been on the menu since 1970 and is one of our top-selling veal dishes.”
  • Inside tip: You don’t have to babysit the wild rice while it cooks, stirring constantly. It’s a very forgiving product.