By Gwen Ashley Walters | JANUARY 11, 2011 | COOKING TIPS

Black is always in fashion, right?

Perhaps it isn’t the first color that pops into your mind when you think about food, but we think 2011 might be the year of black food.

Here are five worth trying:

1. Squid ink pasta – pasta makers, especially coastal Italian pasta makers — love to take squid or cuttlefish ink and turn ordinary pasta into black pasta.

The ink is full of amino acids called glutamates — think umami — although the flavor mellows when made into dried pasta. Take a look at our Pasta in Italy post and see two very different uses of squid ink: one with dried pasta like the picture above, and the other using the ink as the sauce).

2: Black lentils – these lentils hold their shape well when cooked, but lose some of the ebony color. Look for them at Whole Foods, or you can find pre-cooked packages at Trader Joe’s.

3. Charcoal crackers. Striking on a cheese tray, these crackers taste similar to butter crackers and if you closed your eyes, you’d never guess the color. We first learned about food grade, edible charcoal powder from the pastry chef at elements at the Sanctuary at Camelback Resort, who in turn discovered it from pastry chefs in Japan who were using the powder to make black macaroons.

4. Black quinoa. When cooked, it loses some of its dramatic dark color, but it is still darker than the red quinoa (which we explain how to cook here and use in a salad with Cara Cara oranges and in buttermilk pancakes.)

5. Black garlic. It might not look like something you’d want to eat, but trust us, one bite of this raisin-y, mild flavored garlic clove and you’ll understand why we love it. We first wrote about black garlic last summer, and ever since, we’ve kept a jar in the fridge, using the cloves in pastas, soups and sauces, or just sliced and used as a garnish for bruschetta.

What other naturally black foods can you add to the list?

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Sharon Miro | JANUARY 11, 2011

Great post-love black food as a counterpoint to all the colors we usually find on a plate.

Here’s a quick recipe for using beluga lentils:

3/4 to 1 c already cooked beluga lentils
1/2 c your favorite salsa
1/3 c broken feta cheese.

Mix together–don’t wait for crackers-use a spoon!

And how about this, why not steam the lentils to hold color, or use a small amoutn of white vinegar in the water?

It works for jeans!

Gwen Ashley Walters | JANUARY 11, 2011

That recipe sounds so easy. I’ll give it a go. Good suggestions on keeping the color, too! Thanks!

Christy | JANUARY 11, 2011

I recently read an article that said that black olives were never naturally black but dyed to look black. Do you know if this is true or not?

Gwen Ashley Walters | JANUARY 11, 2011

Goodness, I’ve never heard of dying olives black. Olives are green until they ripen, at which point they turn black, or purplish black depending upon the variety. Look at labels because if color was added, it would be listed in the ingredients. Thanks for commenting, Christy!

Marianne Belardi | JANUARY 11, 2011

Loved this Gwen! I’ve always been fascinated by black foods. Want to check out the garlic for sure.

Gwen Ashley Walters | JANUARY 12, 2011

I loved your twitter additions of black chia seeds and blackberries!

Jess | JANUARY 11, 2011

You could add black barley wine, a big trend for 2011: Sierra Nevada’s 30th anniversay Jack and Ken’s Ale, Brewers Alley’s Black Frost, Founders’ Nemesis, SanTan’s Sex Panther …

Gwen Ashley Walters | JANUARY 12, 2011

Now there is a post in and of itself: black beverages… thanks, Jess!

Sharon Miro | JANUARY 12, 2011

BTW, the black beans did not steam well–had to simmer, tried a little vinegar, and they maintained most of their color.

[...] According to Gwen Ashely Walters of Pen&Fork, black is the new black….]

Maria Januszczak | JANUARY 03, 2012

I was researching on “black foods” and I came across your site. Great pictures and I’ve never seen some of these food items.

I would like to add Black Rice (Forbidden Rice) to your list!

Gwen Ashley Walters | JANUARY 04, 2012

Excellent addition, Maria… I did add it to my year-end trends list, but didn’t include it here because I decided to stop with 5. Thanks for commenting.

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