May 9/Prepared Foods’ May 2011 -- Move over, white rice--colored rice is making a splash. According to a recently released “What’s Hot” National Restaurant Association survey of chef-members of the American Culinary Federation, black and red rices are the “new white” in foodservice side dishes. Black rice, although a newcomer to the survey, started at the top--number one--among sides and starches, while red rice ranked third.

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Red and black rices are a great novelty on the plate and meet the demand for “heirloom foods.” Most importantly, black and red rices carry a “better-for-you” nutritional profile, with whole-grain goodness and anthocyanins.

Moreover, red and black rices are reported to taste nuttier and heartier than white rice, making them strategic players when developing rice dishes that appeal to consumers. Color also plays a big role--red rice retains its hue when cooked, and black rice turns a stunning, deep purple.

Northern Minnesota-based Indian Harvest Specialtifoods Inc. offers three varieties of red rice, including the exclusive Colusari Red, which the company reports was “rescued from a Maryland seed bank and grown to commercial availability in California.” The company’s black rice is imported from China.

According to chef Michael Holleman, director of culinary development, Indian Harvest, the rapid increase in red- and black-rice varieties, at a time when chefs need to set themselves apart, “means thinking outside of the box with rice and going well beyond pilafs. Black rice is a natural for Asian- and Caribbean-influenced salads and desserts, while red-rice varieties are more versatile. Croquettes and rice cakes, for example, showcase the reddish hues well, as do soups and stews.” pf