Vegetables

By Gwen Ashley Walters | JANUARY 11, 2011 | BOOK & PRODUCT REVIEWS

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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