Have you tried Inca berries? You might well have, you just don’t know it…
Inca berries or golden berries, those shrivelled, orange-coloured fruits you see below, also go by the more common name of “physalis”. Still not ringing a bell? I bet you’ve seen them in their fresh form garnishing desserts in restaurants. When they’re ripe, the outer layer gets dry and papery and the berries turn bright orange- definitely a pretty plate adornment!
Here’s a picture I took last year of physalis growing in our greenhouse! We sowed the seeds a little late so the fruit didn’t get the chance to fully ripen before summer was over but this year they’re apparently doing much better. My Mum brought me a little container of the “berries” when we met last week but I somehow managed to leave them behind in London so no pictures unfortunately.
Although we’ve successfully grown them in the UK, they’ve been cultivated for thousands of years in the Incan Empire (hence the name) where they’re particularly valued for their nutrient content- They’re especially high in beta-carotene, protein, bioflavonoids, and vitamin A- giving them “superfood” status.
Nutrition aside, in this pantry clear-out project of mine, I found 2 bags of the dried Inca berries (why is it that I have 2 of everything?!)! I’m not wholly convinced by them eaten on their own but they’re a tasty addition to recipes. They’re chewy, sweet and tart with a lingering citrusy flavour.
They certainly gave this simple quinoa dish some pizzazz!
I decided to let the individual ingredients shine here and keep the seasoning really simple- with just a little caraway for a hint of sweet spiciness and coconut oil to bring out the nutty flavours.
With the quinoa, black beans and cashews you’ve got yourself a protein-rich and really satisfying meal. I like this for lunch or as a hearty side-dish.
- 2 Cloves of garlic, minced
- 2 Tbsp Coconut oil, divided
- 1 tsp Caraway seeds
- 1 C Quinoa, rinsed
- 2 C Water
- 1/2 tsp Salt
- 2 C Water
- 1-1/2 C Cooked black beans/ 1 Can, drained and rinsed
- 1/2 C Cashews, roughly chopped
- 1/4 C Roughly chopped coriander (cilantro)
- 1/2 C Inca Berries
- Heat 1 Tbsp coconut oil in a pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and caraway and cook stirring for a couple of minutes, until fragrant.
- Add the rinsed quinoa, water and salt, cover, bring to the boil then reduce to a simmer and allow to cook undisturbed for 10-15 minutes, or until all the water is absorbed. Stir through the black beans and the other Tbsp coconut oil, cover again and leave to sit for 10-15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, toast the cashews in a small pan over medium heat.
- Stir through half the cashews and half the coriander, reserving half of each for topping.
- Transfer to a serving platter or individual serving bowls/plates and scatter with reserved cashews, coriander and Inca berries.
- I like this best served slightly warm or at room temperature, rather than chilled.
* I appreciate that superfoods are expensive and not necessarily staples in everyone's kitchen. If you don't have/don't want to use Inca berries, I'd suggest dried cherries, cranberries or golden raisins as substitutes.
Other recipes using Inca berries from around the web:
High Raw Beet & Hemp Granola from Choosing Raw
Winter Greens & Walnut Salad from Thrive Forward
Green tea with Golden Berries from Meghan Telpner
Superfood Chocolate Cups from Navitas Naturals
If you’re new to Coconut and Berries, please sign up for email updates and join me elsewhere! I’m on Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram (@coconutandberries), Google + and Twitter! You can also follow Coconut and Berries with Bloglovin or Feedly.