The jaded adult that I've become, I have a general idea of what will arrive in my CSA basket each week, depending on the month; and just nod approvingly when my expectations are met.
However, every once in a while, I forget that there are some special gems that come in the CSA basket. Like, these "Ground Cherries" or "Husk Cherries", which are not cherries at all, of course.
Orange pearls inside an Oyster-Lantern!
Generously sweet with a hint of tropical fruit blend, these sprightly cousins of the more common tomatillos are a treat to be relished.
Known by alluring names like "Cape Gooseberries" and "Poha Berries" these Ground Cherries seemed like the perfect thing to try out some fun recipes while gearing up for Fall and bidding farewell to Summer.
Ground Cherries Relish
When something comes so naturally sweet, it lends itself well for quick-cooking relishes and chutneys. This Ground Cherries Relish recipe balances sweet, sour, and spicy, just the way I prefer it.
Some Lemon Drop chilies were ripe in the garden. They start out the usual green and then turn into this gorgeous bright yellow. Plus some ripe red Thai super chilies were handy. A couple of mini orange bell peppers came into the mix. All in all, a rainbow of colors (minus the ever-challenging blue, of course) thanks to the purple onions.
Top a slice of crusty artisan bread with a generous spoonful of this ground cherries relish for a satisfying fall snack. Or, add a dollop to a warm bowl of kedgeree or porridge. Even simply dip favorite wheat crackers in the relish and enjoy.
Ground Cherries Relish
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon lime juice
¼ cup water
1 Tbsp brown sugar
minced red onions
1 mini red bell pepper chopped
1 mini orange bell pepper chopped
1 or 2 minced lemon drop chilies
1 or 2 minced thai red chilies
1 cup Ground/Husk cherries, husked & washed
salt to taste
Saute the onions, bell peppers, and chilies; then add the cider vinegar, lime juice, and water, allow to simmer gently; toss in the cherries and cook till the relish thickens to a spreadable or scoop-able consistency. Allow to cool and store in fridge for up to a week.
Ground Cherries and Bitter Melon Sambar
Very much like my usual Bittermelon Sambar, to which I added some Ground Cherries to give it a boost.
As these are delicate fruits, they disintegrate in the sambar if simmered for too long, so, I toss some in towards the end and cook it long enough to meld the flavors while the ground cherries still retain their shape.
Ground Cherries and Asian Pears Salsa Fresca
The Asian pear tree in the backyard was weighed down with low-hanging fruits this year. Since they sort of skip a year and can be temperamental depending on the degree of neglect I subject them to, I was thankful for the fruits we got this year.
Being sweetish, with a crisp crunch, Asian pears are perfect to snack on. I make pear sauce out of it and can it for later. Birds and wasps and hornets get to these juicy fruits before we do usually, but, since the branches typically get weighed down with fruits, it seems all of us creatures get our share.
For this Ground Cherry and Asian Pear Salsa Fresca, I went with what's readily available in the garden:
Lemon drop chilies
Onions, and onion shoots
Red bell peppers
Plus, Ground Cherries, of course
A sprinkling of salt, a generous dash of McCormick's Original Taco Seasoning, a few drops of lime juice, a splash of Apple cider vinegar, and a driblet of Olive oil is all it takes to get this bowlful of Salsa Fresca.
Serve it along with Pan-seared Yelloweye or Herb-Almond-encrusted Halibut Fingers. Or, simply wrap it in crisp lettuce leaf and enjoy a quick and satisfying snack. Stir it in with Angel Hair pasta along with some feta for that virtually-Greek al fresco kind of dining experience. Add it to pancake batter and make some savory pancakes oozing with flavor. I enjoyed it with Dosai and even Verum Arisi Adai recently.