September 16, 2013

Black rice tortillas review / tofu and kale burritos (recipe)


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.
sauce:
  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon rice syrup
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
Put the mustard into a glass measuring cup. Add the other ingredients and mix. Add enough water to make about 1/3 cup.

Filling:
  • 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
  1. 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.
  2. 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. 
  3. 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.
note: I love raw onion but it tends to upset my stomach so I add the green onion to the wok just before the tofu is finished cooking, to take the raw edge off. You can add it just before filling the tortillas if you wish.

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!

Optional add-ins: 
sliced black olives
avocado
hot sauce
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.

30 comments:

  1. What a cool color. maybe you could save some and make a sweet potato, kale and tofu burrito on black rice tortillas for halloween. Or the chips with a carrot dip. But I'm getting ahead of myself.
    It's always a bummer when tortillas rip! It's so messy. As for the flavor, I've only had black rice at Beyond Sushi but never noticed a real difference between that and brown rice. I'm sure the filling is enough flavor to overpower anything unusual tasting.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. I agree that the color is cool — and I like the taste, too, but I don't want people to think they are just like the tortillas they may be used to. I have to figure out how to make them wrap without tearing, and I have another pack to practice on.

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  2. They sure look pretty! I find that most gf tortillas crack, unless you heat them for only a few seconds. I'd love to try these :)

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    1. I'd love to hear what others think of them. I kind of like them, but my tastes are not always in line with other people's.

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  3. I love the phrase about optimising pliability - delightfully space age! They look great - the colour adds a whole other edge!

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    Replies
    1. Hahaha. I never thought of it like that, but you're right!

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  4. I've had their brown rice tortillas and they have the same texture you describe. I find they warm up better straight from the freezer - I don't know why - but still use for more of a quesadilla cause they still crack somewhat. Can't wait to try the black rice version!

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    1. Thanks for your comment! I have a bag in the freezer so I'll get to try warming them from a frozen state, soon. The texture isn't for everyone, but it has a certain appeal. :)

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  5. Stiff, gummy and sandy - and you like it? Come on over for dinner at my house! But leave your "pot garden" back at home, girl. I have children here, you know.

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    1. Let's say chewy and toothsome, instead. :) It's hard to describe certain kinds of unusual foods — olives, shiitake mushrooms, hot chili peppers, okra, black rice tortillas — and make them sound universally appealing when of course, they're not. I just don't want to mislead anyone into thinking they're buying something that they're not. (Hmmm. I should add this to the post.) Anyway, you're on for dinner. The pot garden is way too heavy to bring, but I think you'd like the kale, etc. that I'm growing.

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  6. The recipe sounds like something we'd really love. I think both Mike and I would like the tortillas, too. We adore black rice. A tortilla lasagne would probably be really good with them, too!

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    1. We love the burritos. I spent a lot of time trying to make them taste like the delicious ones we had in Santa Fe, and these are pretty darn close.

      I was thinking the tortillas might be good for quesadillas. In fact, one of the commenters, Lea, suggested that as well.

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  7. I love the color! Rice tortillas aren't the easiest to use because they do tend to crack.

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    1. The color is dramatic, and yes, they do tend to crack. But if you look on their Web page, the tortillas are rolled seamlessly. I wonder what the trick is.

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    2. Maybe photoshop. :D

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  8. Black is my favorite color, because it's my aura. These are gruesomely pretty. I hate to diss their tortillas but like other readers have said, I have had crappy results with them too.
    I do however love that filling you made, kale tofu and avocado wraps are my fave. I like to store blobs in the freezer.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Yes, these are definitely mystical tortillas that would suit you. They would go well with missing-lentil soup. :) They're a little weird but I like them.

      I wish I had a blob of tofu and kale in my freezer right now cause I'm getting really hungry. Guess I'll go eat leftover something else.

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    2. leftover something else is also my favorite.
      Deepak added the lentils to the recipe on GiGi's site. Thank you for reading the full contents of the blog. Many people just look at pictures.

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  9. I think I kind of know what you mean...a lot of the gluten free foods I have had I wasn't sure about at first. But they really do grow on you and you end up actually liking the flavor. I think the black rice tortillas look really interesting!

    I am sure the burritos were much better this time. It is always better with your own home grown produce!

    Courtney

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Unusual foods sometimes take time to get used to, for sure.

      It's been a while since we've made the burritos, and it was great to have them again. I love them!

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  10. Love the color of those black tortillas! The filling looks really good too! I'm sure there's some sort of trick to rolling them without tearing. Perhaps the company should let people in on the secret... :-)

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    1. I jokingly told another commenter that the secret may be photoshop. I hope not. :)

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  11. I LOVE purple and that is a gorgeous color!

    I think I know the secret of the perfectly rolled wrap on their website. Think about it real hard, have you ever made homemade tortillas? When they are first made, they are pliable and warm etc... so easy to roll, when they have been sitting and especially the commercial kinds sitting on a shelf, in a truck on the highway, and finally waiting for a customer to buy them - they won't be so pliable and forgiving when days and weeks go by.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. You may be right about that. Bread products are much softer and pliable when just made. I've made homemade wheat tortillas, but never gluten-free rice tortillas, so I don't know how to compare.

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  12. These black rice tortillas look so cool - love dark tortillas!!!!! The filling looks so good!!!

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    1. They do look cool, and the filling is great — the taste of the tortillas is unusual, though. :)

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  13. YUM these sound great! i have never seen black rice tortillas, I would love to try these!

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    1. You should check the Food for Life Web site and see if they are sold near you.

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  14. I've never heard of black rice. That's a new one on me. I tried pink rice recently, and it's lovely! It has a really mild flavor, and it cooks in only 20 minutes, half the time of brown rice. I'd be curious to try black rice to see how it compares to the two. It doesn't sound like you were totally in love with the black rice tortillas, but they'd be worth checking out for a change of pace. It's fun to try something different.

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    1. You know, every time I read a new article abut arsenic in rice I get more hesitant to eat too much of it. The latest piece said that whole grain rice (like brown rice) had more arsenic than white because it's stored in the bran. It also said the worst place to get rice is China because they still use pesticides with arsenic. Our black rice is from China. I'm not feeling like eating it at the moment.

      Delete

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