Peruvian Superfoods: from Pichuberry to Purple Potatoes

Peruvian Power FoodsFooducate friend and Registered Dietitian Manuel Villacorta hails from Peru. And his latest book, Peruvian Power Foods, highlights some very interesting and healthy foods from South America.

The Andean mountain region is home to Peru, Bolivia and Ecuador. By now, most health conscious consumers have had their fair share of quinoa, a staple in the Andes.

But how many you have heard of the pichuberry?

According to Villacorta, the pichuberry is

a small orange fruit the size and shape of a cherry tomato. But don’t let its unassuming appearance fool you. This little treasure is bursting with powerful nutrients. And when it comes to taste, the pichuberry explodes with tart yet sweet flavor, like a hybrid of cherry and passionfruit.

Here’s an easy recipe from the book that we can’t wait to try out. It includes both quinoa AND the pichuberry:

QUINOA PICHUBERRY SALAD

Here, textures and fresh flavors meld for a simple yet satisfying summer salad. Try it as an accompaniment to chicken or fish, or dress it up with olives and feta for a heartier stand-alone dish.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup cooked red or white quinoa
  • 1 small avocado, diced
  • 3 ounces pichuberries, quartered
  • Juice of one orange
  • Salt to taste

Directions

  1. Combine the quinoa, avocado, and pichuberries in a bowl
  2. squeeze the fresh orange juice on top.
  3. Season with salt and gently fold together.

There are several other interesting foods offered in the book. For some reason, purple is a hit in Peruvian crops. There are both purple corn and purple potatoes.

Here’s a recipe for TRI-COLORED SCALLOPED POTATOES:

This dish uses simple ingredients but delivers impressive results. Once sliced, the thinly layered potatoes in three colors create a beautiful dish with delicate texture.

Ingredients

  • 3 medium red potatoes
  • 3 medium yellow potatoes
  • 3 medium purple potatoes
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 sprig rosemary leaves, chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Wash the potatoes and thinly slice with a mandolin or sharp knife. Lightly coat a 9-inch baking dish with nonstick spray.
  2. Layer the potatoes in the baking dish, mixing the colors together. Drizzle with olive oil and season with the rosemary and salt and pepper.
  3. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake an additional 5 to 10 minutes, or until golden brown.

What’s your favorite Peruvian dish?

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  • jadegreen_eyz

    The distributor is based out of Arizona. An 8 oz. container ($5.50) with shipping (2-3 days) will cost $12.50! Too expensive.

    • Eating Free

      Hello @jadegreen_eyz:disqus Pichuberries can be found at Whole Foods, Bristol Farms, Stater Bros. all over Southern CA , Arizona and Vegas. Soon will be in Whole Foods and Safeway in Northern CA. The plan is to be in most supermarkets nationwide. They are so good. Hope you can try them one day.
      Cheers!
      Manuel

  • MBev

    The Pichuberry is really just a gooseberry. Read article linked here about it’s new name in an attempt to sound exotic and appeal to American audiences.

    http://www.lamag.com/lafood/digestblog/2013/06/18/this-gooseberry-is-cooked-lets-talk-about-the-pichuberry

    Incidentally, a related fruit, the Indian gooseberry or Amla, has long been consumed in India for its health benefits.

    • stacy

      Also called a gound cherry

    • Eating Free

      Hi MBev,

      Please read my post from above.
      Some people tend to confuse the Physalis Peruviana with the gooseberry fruit.

      Thanks!

  • Eating Free

    One of the core initiatives of the Pichuberry Company pertains to the re-branding of the Physalis Peruviana fruit (scientific name of Pichuberry).

    Before we go into the details behind our branding initiatives, we must address the frequent confusion pertaining to the Physalis Peruviana. Some people tend to confuse the Physalis Peruviana with the gooseberry fruit. It is important to point out the fact that there is no relationship between the Pichuberry and the Gooseberry. As some know, the Pichuberry is part of the Physalis plant family, while the Gooseberry is part of the Ribes family. The Physalis plant family is also known as the nightshade/tomato family, establishing the Pichuberry as a distant cousin of the tomato and tomatillo.

    The taste of the Pichuberry is very much different than the Gooseberry. The Gooseberry is very tart and has an earthier taste than other fruits. The Pichuberry taste profile is completely different. The Pichuberry has a dynamic taste profile, starting with a sweet burst and then transitioning into a tart after-taste. Some people may describe the fruit as a dynamic tropical tomato because it does give off a tangy hint while you bite into it. This exclusivity has the ability to turn any regular recipe into the coolest new thing on earth. As an example, look to our new guacamole recipe. The Pichuberry team recently won an award for creating guacamole. It was a simple recipe; it only required the substitution of the Pichuberry for the tomato, but was enough to give a nice twist and wow everyone in the room.

    Another thing to address is the nutritional composition of the Pichuberry when compared with other fruits, such as the gooseberry. The Pichuberry contains a powerful array of vitamins and minerals. In 3.5 ounces of the fruit (normal sample size of Pichuberry) a person can obtain up to 40% of their daily recommended vitamin D and 37% of the daily recommended vitamin A. It also contains a significant amount of protein, vitamin C, thiamine, niacin, and complex B vitamins (including B-12). The other key elements the Pichuberry brings to the table are the Withanolides. Withanolides are rare, but special, antioxidant compounds that have been researched and linked to chronic illness prevention. In scientific studies, Withanolides have been shown to help the immune system reduce oxidative stress and combat carcinogens. Even the papery husk portion of the Pichuberry contains these nutritional properties. The Pichuberry is unlike any other fruits when it comes to its nutritional excellence.

    One possible explanation for why the Pichuberry may have been mistaken for a gooseberry is because of the fact that in some cultures the fruit has been misbranded as the “Cape Gooseberry”. As European settlers adopted many new things throughout the colonization of South America, the Physalis Peruviana was named “the Cape Gooseberry”. This name caught on in some cultures in Australia, England, and South Africa. This poses a problem for the identity of the Pichuberry since it negatively reinforces the fruit’s relationship to the gooseberry. This is why we have launched our Pichuberry awareness campaign. When someone hears the name Cape Gooseberry they might lose out on important information and actually think this fruit is a gooseberry that comes from Europe or Australia and this is just simply incorrect. The Physalis Peruviana is native to Peru and happens to be one of the early active ingredients for the Lost Incan Civilization diets. This is the main reason for using the name “Pichuberry”, to fairly re-align this fruit as a Peruvian jewel.

    Our public relations campaign revolves around getting alignment between the Pichuberry and its native land Peru. By launching educational and awareness campaigns we stride to establish an accurate historical profile for this amazing fruit.

  • Carol H

    The recipes sound good. Would be nice to see nutrition data per serving.

  • Bastiat

    Do we need more exotic gourmet ingredients laden with 2,500 food miles? Have we burned through the Acai Berry and Quinoa fads already?