So I'm assuming if all goes well with this big, national pichuberry push, you'll soon be hearing about the South American fruit in the same context as other "superfoods" like acai berries and pomegranates. That seems to be the direction in which The Pichuberry Company—a Phoenix, Arizona–based company committed to importing the small, yellow fruit from Colombia (as well as establishing domestic greenhouses here in the States)—is pushing, at least, touting the fruit's "peerless" (peerless!) "nutritional and health benefits."
To be fair, the fruit—which has been cultivated in South America, South Africa, India, Madagascar, and England for years under such names as the Cape gooseberry, the Peruvian groundcherry, and (my favorite) "love in a cage"—is quite healthy. It contains a huge daily dose of Vitamin D (nearly 40 percent your daily value in 3/4 a cup of pichuberries) and it's high in Vitamin A, Vitamin C, and protein as well. More importantly, it's tasty—like a tomatillo gone sweet.
The comparison is apt, as the little fruit is actually related to the tomatillo (something you may have guessed from the papery, light green calyx that surrounds the fruit). Cut open, you can see tiny seeds inside the pichuberry that look a bit like a cross between a tomatillo and a fig. The sticky-sweet juice is almost fig-like as well, and I found myself enjoying the plastic carton of pichuberries that The Pichuberry Company sent over to my office last week right out of the calyx, popping them into my mouth like cherry tomatoes.
Now, The Pichuberry Company had all sorts of recipes to accompany the little box of fruit it sent over. One of those was to simply dip the pichuberries in chocolate, which I found odd as one of the much-touted health benefits is that the pichuberry is low on the glycemic index (i.e., it won't make your blood sugar spike). So I ignored that recipe—as well as the others, which all sounded quite boring—and paired the berry with another vegetable native to the high Andean altitudes of South America that's also low on the glycemic index: quinoa. (Yes, quinoa is a vegetable. It's related to Swiss chard, beets, and spinach, and you can eat the leaves of the quinoa plant as well as the more commonly seen seeds.)
The recipe I came up with featured a host of other vegetables as well, all of which have low glycemic loads: cucumber, red onion, bell peppers, and tomatoes (also originally from the Andes). And in keeping with the pichuberry's promised health benefits, the recipe is low in fat, high in protein and essential amino and fatty acids, and full of vitamins and minerals. It tastes great, it's easy to make, and it keeps well in the fridge for several days. Best of all, it showcases the sweet little pichuberry to great effect.
Fruits of the Andes Salad
- 1 c. quinoa
- 2 c. chicken broth
- 1 T. crushed garlic
- 3/4 c. pichuberries, halved
- 1/2 c. cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
- 1/2 c. bell peppers, diced
- 1/2 red onion, diced
- 1/2 cucumber, diced
- 3 T. rice wine vinegar
- 1 T. soy sauce (can sub Bragg's Liquid Aminos)
- 1 tsp. fish sauce
Rinse quinoa well in a fine mesh strainer. Bring chicken broth and garlic to a boil in a saucepan. Add quinoa. Reduce to a simmer and cook, covered, for 15 minutes. Fluff and mix with fork occasionally. Meanwhile, add vegetables to a large mixing bowl and toss with rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, and fish sauce. Allow to marinate while quinoa is cooking. When quinoa is finished, remove from saucepan and allow to cool. Once cool, add vegetables and marinade. Mix well.
You can further chill the dish from there if you're serving it on a hot day or making it ahead of time. Garnish with black/white sesame seeds, salt, or pepper to taste.
While these pichuberries were sent to my office as part of a press kit, you can find them locally at Central Market and larger H-E-B stores (though when I called Central Market today, I was told they were sadly out of stock at the moment).