When I was offered a sample of Food for Life's new black rice tortillas to review, I was intrigued. I'd been planning on making my old favorite tofu-and kale-burritos for a mofo post, and the tortillas would fit right into my plan. The deep purplish-black tortillas are not only gluten-free, they are made from black rice, which according to the package, "contains natural anthocyanin antioxidents — just like those found in bleuberries, blackberries, dark cherries and acai."
|Click to enlarge.|
The package also mentions that in addition to antioxidants, the rice is loaded with vitamins, minerals and natural fiber. This is all good, but what about the taste and texture?
The package didn't offer any clear directions on how to prepare or use the tortillas other than "to optimize pliability, warm tortilla and serve." For the burritos, I warmed them on a cast iron pan, but you can see from my photo that even warmed, they cracked when I tried to roll them. The tortillas are somewhat thick and stiff, and wouldn't roll without splitting. I've since tried warming them briefly in the microwave between two damp sheets of the separator paper they are packed with, with similar results. The Food for Life Web site has a photo of the tortillas rolled, so maybe there's a learning curve in working with this new product, and I'll eventually figure it out. But, at the moment, I think they would be better served as a flat bread, rather than used to make burritos.
I also cut a tortilla into wedges and baked them on a cookie sheet for 10 minutes in a 400˚ oven to create tasty chips that would work well as a snack on their own, or with salsa or other dips. If the tortillas were smaller (they are about nine-inches in diameter), they could probably be baked whole and used for tostados, but I think they might be too big for that.
They taste strongly of black rice, which you would expect since that's what they're made of, but it's not as familiar a flavor as corn, wheat or even other forms of rice. We have a bag of black rice in the cupboard that we occasionally cook, so I'm familiar with the flavor, but still found it surprising in a tortilla. I've served gluten-free tortillas to guests, and they passed perfectly for regular tortillas, but the black rice tortillas require some getting used to, and I would be hesitant to serve them to others. The texture also is unusual as it is at first a little stiff and gummy before breaking down to a slight sandy quality. I would say it's chewy, or toothsome. My husband and I enjoyed eating them — we liked the texture and the taste.
If you're looking for a healthy gluten-free alternative to wheat or corn tortillas, you should give the Food for Life black rice tortillas a try. But if you expect them to taste just like familiar wheat or corn tortillas, you'll be disappointed. If you believe that gluten-free foods can be different, and delicious, the black rice tortillas can add a new taste to your menu. I think they are something that will grow on me.
As for the tofu and kale burritos, they first appeared on my blog in 2008. I created the recipe after eating something similar in a Santa Fe restaurant. The recipe has become a favorite of ours, and I'm going to share it again with you. In addition to being delicious, it's very fast and easy. It was especially great this time because I was able to use kale from my little pot garden.
Tofu and kale burritos
Makes two to three large burritos.
- 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon rice syrup
- 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
- 1/4 teaspoon paprika
- 1/2 (or more) large bunch kale, about 6 large leaves
- 1/4 lb. firm tofu (water packed or vacuum sealed in plastic, not the kind in the box)
- 1 clove minced garlic
- 1 minced chipote pepper in adobo sauce (Freeze the rest of the can in blobs for other recipes. Once frozen, store the blobs in a plastic bag.)
- 1 peeled carrot
- 1/2 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels
- 1 or 2 chopped green onions
- Strip the kale from the ribs. (Hold the stem in one hand with the leaf's underside facing up and just slide the thumb and finger of your other hand firmly along the rib, taking the leaf off as you go. You should end up with a bunch of bare ribs for the compost or soup stock.) Put the leaves in a large bowl of water and swish them around to clean. If the water looks dirty, do it again (and again). Shake off the excess water and mound the leaves on a cutting board so you can shred through them with a knife. Move the leaves a bit and slice some more until they are roughly shredded.
- Cut the tofu into 1/2-inch cubes and saute with the garlic in a wok or skillet in a small amount of oil until the tofu starts to brown. Add the chipotle and about a tablespoon of sauce and toss and cook a minute longer. Remove tofu from the wok.
- Add the kale and cover the wok so the kale can steam in the water clinging to it. Turn the heat down a little so it doesn't burn. When the kale is nice and tender but still firm (in other words, don't cook it until it turns to mush - just until you can bite it easily — you want to retain some bulk and mouth appeal) grate the carrot directly into the wok and toss in the corn. Cover for a minute to heat the corn and the carrot. The carrot can stay crunchy. Add the tofu, the onion and the rest of the sauce, and flip it all together.
Tortillas: I used to use whole wheat tortillas from Whole Foods or from our co-op, but now I use a gluten-free alternative. Warm them on a nonstick griddle flipping the tortilla until it softens. When it's ready, lay it on a plate, put the filling in, fold in one end and roll it up. Enjoy!
sliced black olives
parsley or cilantro
Disclosure: The tortillas described in the post were sent to me free of charge. All opinions are my own. The recipe was created by me.