Throughout the growing season, we'll interview local farmers, chefs and other food lovers about seasonal cooking. Have a question? Email it to food writer Sarah Baker Hansen at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I saw all the regular seasonal suspects at the Sunday Aksarben Village Market last weekend, but at least one veggie at the Moua Produce booth — home of the gorgeous $7 bouquets I wrote about a few weeks ago — was new to me.
The line for the flowers stretched all the way around the booth, so I left Moua instead with two pints of the mysterious vegetable, called a ground cherry. They look like a smaller version of a tomatillo. Inside a husk that resembles an autumn leaf is a small golden orb that tastes like a blend of a tomato, an orange and a berry and has a hit of mild acidity.
Technically called “physalis,” ground cherries are in the nightshade family and can also be called cape gooseberries.
Once the husk is removed, the cherries can be eaten raw in salads or as a snack, as a flavoring in jams or jellies or dried and eaten like raisins. The berries have a high level of natural pectin, making them excellent for preserves. Moua should have the vegetables for the next few weeks. It is at the Village Pointe market Saturdays and the Aksarben Market on Sundays.
I found three recipes I wanted to share this week, and after putting it to a vote on Twitter (find me @SBHOWH), I'm sharing two simple but unusual ground cherry salsa recipes. Find the third recipe, for a ground cherry coffee cake, on my blog, omavore.omaha.com.
Ground Cherry and Cucumber Salsa
½ cup husked and diced ground cherries
1 cup peeled, seeded, diced cucumbers
1 jalapeño or carrot pepper, a few slices for garnish, the rest diced fine
¼ cup chopped cilantro
Mix it up. Any leftovers keep for a day or two in the fridge. — Recipe adapted from blog.kitchentherapy.us
Ground Cherry Salsa
1 pound ground cherries, husks removed, fruit washed and halved
1 bunch scallions thinly sliced on the bias
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
1 cup finely diced jicama
5 serrano chiles, thinly sliced on the bias
Juice of 2 limes
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Cracked black pepper
In a bowl, toss all ingredients until well-mixed. Season to taste, cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
— Recipe from tastingtable.com.