(Goose) Berries & (Little) Trees

broccoli-with-dried-gooseberriesAlthough you can’t beat juicy-fresh fruit, dried fruit has its own set of charms: it’s non-messy, it’s very portable, and since it has such low water content, not only is it a better source of fiber than its fresh counterpart, dried fruit also has a more concentrated flavor.  Berries in particular have a refreshing sweet/tart character.  Cranberries, though, are entirely on the tart side; if someone refers to cranberries as being “sweet,” odds are those cranberries are coated with sugar.  Or that person has very skewed taste buds.  The latter can certainly happen – once I had a group of folks taste bitter melon, and one of the tasters thought it was sweet enough to enjoy dawdling it on her tongue.  The rest of us had to spit it out because it was just too bitter.  But I digress…

My latest dried fruit find is dried gooseberries.  They look kind of like golden raisins, except the gooseberries are a deeper color orange and have wrinklier skins.  They’re more tart than raisins, too, although not as tart as cranberries.  Like raisins and cranberries, gooseberries can be included in a salad (as I’ve done here) or included with savory main dishes as a sweet/tart note (brown rice pilaf topped with lamb and gooseberries, or how about grilled or baked chicken on a bed of greens sautéed with gooseberries?).  Or they can simply be eaten out of hand as a snack or dessert.  Try tossing them with your favorite varieties of nuts and/or seeds to make your own trail mix!

Broccoli with Red Rice, Almonds & Gooseberries
Recipe serves 4 as a heartier-than-it-looks main dish. You could easily add a few more veggies if you like, or strips of cooked chicken. Hard-boiled eggs and a creamy cheese like fresh goat cheese or Feta would also pair well.

1 cup raw red rice (or brown or black or purple or any color but white)*
2 crowns broccoli, cut into florets and rinsed
Handful slivered or sliced almonds
Handful dried gooseberries OR dried cranberries
Sea salt & freshly ground pepper
Drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil
Drizzle of balsamic vinegar OR red wine vinegar

Place 2 cups of water and the cup of rice in a medium pot with a secure lid. Put the pot over low heat for about 40 minutes or until rice has absorbed all of the water and has reached a good tenderness – not too crunchy, not too soft. If you want to make a big batch, you can keep leftover rice in the refrigerator for up to a week and use it in everything from breakfasts to sides to dinners. (Add milk and maple syrup to the rice, and presto! you have cereal.  Extremely inexpensive, extremely nutritious cereal.  Whaddaya think of that, General Mills?)

Fill another medium pot halfway with water and bring it to a boil. Add the broccoli and partially cover the pot, reducing heat to medium-low. Simmer the broccoli for 5 minutes, then drain.

Toss drained broccoli with cooked rice, almonds, gooseberries, and a sprinkling of salt and pepper. Toss again with a drizzle of oil and vinegar. Since the gooseberries are tart, you don’t need much vinegar – start out with 1 T. oil and 1 tsp. vinegar and taste the salad. If it seems dry, add more oil; if you want more tartness, add more vinegar.

Enjoy!

*Feel free to use 2 cups precooked rice if you have some on hand.

Courtesy of Cultured Cook.

You may also like:

Delicate “Trees” And Earthy Rice

Cooking Green for Earth Day Fun

Buy Organic Foods – Is It Worth It?

© Copyright 2011  Allison Stuart Kaplan  www.Askinyourface.com LLC

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