Goldenberries – also known as Incan berries – are indigenous to South America and have recently come into high regard as a superfood. They’ve also been widely cultivated in England and South Africa, where they are referred to as Cape Gooseberries.
However, these nutritious fruits are not true gooseberries but are actually a close relative of the tomatillo and a member of the nightshade botanical family. Other nightshades include tomato, potato, eggplant, chili peppers and goji berries.
When goldenberries first came onto the superfood scene I was surprised to learn that these were the same yellow fruits I knew as gooseberries that were growing in my back yard as a child. I had tasted them raw but we didn’t really eat them that way. They have a tart flavor that limits your desire to eat too many. For the most part they were prepared in the form of pies and jelly so that the added sweetness would balance their sour flavor.
When I visited South Africa several years ago I learned how raw goldenberries make a fantastic addition to a green salad. Much like tomato they add a juicy, sour element that works well with raw leafy greens.
Most people including myself don’t generally have access to fresh goldenberries, however they are more widely available dried. So when I recently bought a pack of organic dried goldenberries I was trying to come up with some creative recipe ideas. They’re not really the most versatile of ingredients due to their intense flavor profile so at first I wasn’t really sure what to do with them.
Goldenberries do actually make a pretty good snack by the handful – either by themselves or as an addition to a raw trail mix – but they’re not for everyone. If you are a fan of dried tart cherries you will probably love them. When I first tasted these assertive berries I wasn’t really inspired to try them again. As I’ve become more familiar with goldenberries I’ve experienced more subtle elements of their flavor and come to appreciate them much more, and that is not to mention their nutritional benefits.
Health Benefits of Goldenberries
- Extremely high protein level, especially for a fruit (approximately 16 percent).
- Good source of phosphorus, a mineral necessary for strong bones and teeth.
- Provides beta-carotene, B complex vitamins and vitamin C.
- Contains bioflavinoids that offer antiviral, anti-carcinogenic, anti-inflammatory, antihistamine and antioxidant properties.
When I created this recipe I didn’t yet know that goldenberries were botanically related to tomatoes but I instinctively felt this would be a good pairing, since they both have elements of sweet and sour flavors. The experiment was a success and this turned out to be a pretty tasty salad. My husband loved it – and he doesn’t even like goldenberries!
I used Hawaiian red salt which worked really well in this recipe. I find it adds a more mellow and balanced flavor than other types of salt and it really enhances the taste of salads and vegetables.
This is an unrefined sea salt that is created through natural evaporation when it is trapped in tidal pools and mixes with red volcanic clay. The red color itself comes from the high levels of iron in the clay. If you don’t happen to have it on hand then Himalayan salt would be a good alternative.
Because everyone has a unique tolerance to spicy foods, and chilies vary a lot in their heat levels, feel free to adjust the amount of chili to suit your personal preference.
- 3 large beefsteak tomatoes, chopped
- ½ small yellow pepper, chopped
- ½ small red pepper, chopped
- 1 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped
- ¼ cup red onion, diced
- Handful of goldenberries, chopped
- 2 T flaxseed oil
- 1 T agave
- 1 t hot red chili, diced small
- ¼ teaspoon Hawaiian red salt
- 1 small head butter lettuce
- 1-2 avocados, diced (optional)
- Mix together the tomatoes, peppers, red onion, parsley and goldenberries in a large salad bowl.
- In a small bowl whisk together the flaxseed oil, agave, hot chili and salt. Pour over the tomato mixture and gently stir to combine.
- Allow the flavors to develop for at least ten minutes - or up to an hour - at room temperature.
- Place lettuce leaves on individual serving plates and spoon the tomato mixture on top. Then top with the avocado if desired.
This was a very flavorful salad by itself and in small portions it would be a great appetizer. With the addition of the avocado it becomes a complete and satisfying main dish salad recipe. Chopped walnuts would also be a good addition to add extra interest and crunch.
Have you ever tried goldenberries?
What is your favorite way to eat them?