Trending: Tabletop Noir

Want to create a stunning dinner party table? The talented Alex Head – Owner & Founder of Social Pantry – shows you how to make black foods and black tableware work for every occasion. Read on as she shows you how…

Cross over to the dark of the dinner table and get on board with the black food trend that’s taking social media by storm.

Black ingredients (a welcome antidote to garish technicolour unicorn foods) needn’t be scary and chances are, you’ve already tried most of them before. Black rice? Check. Black beans? Check. Blackberries? Check. Charcoal ice cream? Ok maybe not but don’t be put off – this amazing ingredient is easy to cook with and is guaranteed to wow your dinner party guests.

To take the fear out of entertaining with black foods, I’ve created four show-stopping recipes to get you started – your Instagram feed (and hungry friends) will thank you later! Whether you’re dining alone or cooking for a crowd, make black food the star of the show with these fun and fresh dishes.


A feast for the eyes and the taste buds, this Venetian classic looks brilliant and is certainly a table talking point.



  • 2 squid tubes
  • 1 tsp squid ink
  • 100 ml fish stock
  • Lemon juice
  • ½ head of cauliflower
  • 100ml milk
  • 100ml double cream
  • 50g butter


  1. Start by preparing your squid by cleaning the tubes and cutting into small rice size pieces.
  2. To make the cauliflower puree, roughly chop the cauliflower and place in a pan.
  3. Add the cream, milk and butter, on a medium heat on the hob cook through. Then strain and blend to a smooth puree consistency.
  4. To make the risotto, place the squid in a pan on a medium heat, add the fish stock and cook for approximately 30 seconds.
  5. Add the cauliflower puree and cook for a further 30 seconds, adding in the squid ink and lemon juice – taste and season accordingly.
  6. Plate up and garnish with cauliflower shavings – add a sprinkling of white borage flowers if you have them handy.


Give your salad a gothic makeover with my delicious black quinoa, kale, baby beet and tomato salad.  Quinoa is a fantastic natural source of protein and goes perfectly with crispy roast kale and sweet beetroot – if you have enough willpower to save some for leftovers, it makes a gorgeous lunch the next day too.


  • 100g black quinoa
  • 200g water
  • Baby beetroots
  • Kale
  • Plum tomatoes
  • Vegetable oil for frying


  1. Start by pre-heating the oven to 135C.
  2. Slice the plum tomatoes equally into 8 pieces and place on a baking tray.
  3. Sprinkle with thyme and Maldon salt and cook for 45 mins.
  4. Simmer the baby beetroots in water until the skin can be easily removed. Cool and remove the skin, dress in oil and Maldon salt and roast at 180C for 15 mins.
  5. Pick the kale and deep fry at 170C until crispy. Remove from the oil and place onto a tray lined with kitchen towel, season with sea salt.
  6. Bring the black quinoa to boil in seasoned water, cover and simmer until the water has evaporated and the quinoa is cooked.  Leave to the side to cool.
  7. Combine all the ingredients together in a large serving bowl. Finish with extra virgin oil and toasted buckwheat.


Sweet roasted aubergine and nutty black rice, what’s not to love?! This is a stunning and simple combination of quality ingredients that you’ll easily find in your local supermarket. Dish it up as a more-ish side at social gatherings or serve as a main for a wholesome veggie dinner.


  • 2 aubergine
  • 200g wild rice
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Bunch of mint
  • Bunch of flat leaf parsley
  • Sumac


  1. Pre-heat the over to 190C.
  2. Dice the aubergine and then dress in oil, salt and sumac. Roast for approximately 20 minutes or until cooked.
  3. Cook the wild rice in seasoned water until tender and place to the side to cool.
  4. Pick the herbs into small leafs, be generous here – you can never have too many fresh herbs!
  5. Toast the pumpkin seeds in the oven for 10 mins at 170C or until lightly browned.
  6. Combine all the ingredients in a sharing sized bowl, dress with extra virgin oil and a sprinkling of herbs.


A fun upgrade on the classic, my activated charcoal pavlova tastes as impressive as it looks. A great end to a dinner party, serve this heavenly sweet treat with seasonal berries and a dollop of fresh cream for an indulgent finishing dish.


  • 100g egg whites
  • 200g castor sugar
  • Activated charcoal (available to purchase in most health food shops)
  • 100ml double cream
  • 50g icing sugar
  • Vanilla pod
  • Punnet of blackberries and blueberries


  1. Start by whisking the egg whites until fluffy in a mixer. Slowly add the sugar on full speed until the meringue forms peaks.
  2. Spoon onto a tray and dust with the activated charcoal, cook in the oven on 60 C for 8 -12 hours
  3. Combine the double cream, icing sugar and vanilla, whisk to ribbon stage.
  4. To serve spoon the cream onto a plate, garish with berries and finish with the meringue.

By Alex Head, Social Pantry |

@AlexHead_SP | @Social_Pantry

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