Cape Gooseberries And A Spring Panzanella

Sometimes a simple aqua-colored paper box filled with golden gooseberries is enough to brighten my day.

“Oh I haven’t seen these since my summer in Portugal!” I gushed as soon as I saw them. There they were. Cape gooseberries wrapped in their wrinkled, papery, brown-colored shell. “I have no idea what I will do with them, but I need them” I told Jody. I am still amazed of all the wonderful things she grows.

When I arrived home, the kids were intrigued by the little fruits. “Can I try one amatxu?” Jon asked. I loved his curiosity, although I had a feeling he wasn’t going to be very keen on them. He squinted and shook his head. “I think I am going to cook them in a little bit of sugar” I told him. “That would be better, I think” he replied.

Cape gooseberries, also know as physalis, are closely related to tomatillos and other plants such as tomatoes, eggplants, and potatoes. It is full of tiny seeds and when ripe, it is very bright yellow and very sweet. Although it is often times used as a garnish for desserts, I think this doesn’t really do it much justice. It makes great pies and jams and I have also seen many cakes recipes with them.

I decided to poach the gooseberries in a light sugar syrup as some of them were still not fully ripe. I made honey and yogurt panna cotta and served the poached gooseberries on top.

It was Easter weekend after all and I wanted something very Spring-like. Something with lots of greens and color.

Along with some of our neighbors, we put together a small egg-hunt for the kids. Lots of tattoos, stickers, mighty beans, and an occasional tootsie roll that Miren tried to hide in her shoe.

I had to confiscate a few.

I had some leftover gluten-free hearty bread that I rubbed with garlic and toasted with some olive oil. Perfect croutons for a spring panzanella salad. Shredded zucchini that almost looks like pasta, blanched asparagus tips, shaved fennel, garlicky croutons, and watercress made a perfect lunch.

Spring Panzanella Salad

Serves 3

3 slices hearty seed bread (I made my own)
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/4 plus 2 tbs cup olive oil, divided
1/2 cup green asparagus tips
1/2 fennel bulb, thinly slices
1 zucchini, grated into long strands
1 cup watercress
1 small spring onion, thinly sliced
1 Tbs lemon juice
Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 325F.

Rub the sliced of bread with the raw garlic. Dice the bread into 1/2 inch cubes. Toss them with 2 Tbs olive oil and bake them for 10 minutes until golden and crunchy.

Blanch the asparagus tips in salted boiling water for 1 minute. Drain and shock them in ice water to stop the cooking process. Drain them.

Toss the bread croutons, asparagus, fennel, zucchini, watercress, and spring onion in a large bowl. Add the lemon juice, rest of olive oil, salt, and pepper. Toss the salad and let it stand at room temperature for 10 minutes for all the flavors to macerate. Serve immediately.

Yogurt and Honey Panna Cotta

2 cups (500 ml) heavy cream
1/2 cup (100 grams) natural cane sugar
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and scraped
3 sheets gelatin
1 cup (250 ml) full fat Greek-style yogurt
1/4 cup good-quality honey (I used acacia honey)

In a small saucepan, heat the heavy cream, sugar and vanilla bean until it comes to a simmer. Remove from heat.

In the meantime, soak the gelatin in ice water for 5 minutes. Squeeze out excess water and add the gelatin to the hot cream. Whisk to dissolve. Pour this into a clean bowl and let it cool for 5 minutes. Add the yogurt and whisk well.

Spoon about 1 Tbs of honey into each glass jar. Pour the panna cotta on top and chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours or until completely set.

Poached Gooseberries

1 cup (250 ml) water
1/2 cup (100 grams) natural cane sugar
Peel of half lemon
2 sprigs lemon thyme
1 cup cape gooseberries, outter shell removed

In a small saucepan, heat the water, sugar, lemon peel, and lemon thyme together over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Add the gooseberries and cook for 2 minutes or until they start to lightly pop. Spoon them out of the syrup and cool them slightly.

Serve them on top of the panna cotta.

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50 Responses to “Cape Gooseberries And A Spring Panzanella”

  1. Yum – ground cherries! Whenever I get my hands on them I eat them too fast for them to make it into any recipe!

  2. Oh my, those are some beautiful spring-like pictures! And I love love love Panzanella, I definitely must try your recipe asap. :-)

  3. I’m one of those that reserves goose berries for garnish only! So thanks for giving us a recipe idea for cooking with it! Beautifully presented as usual.

  4. Maria says:

    This post makes me miss the European spring! We are heading towards winter here in Australia and these photos are my only consolation during our rainy winter months.

  5. Delyth says:

    It took me a long time to find these in Canada as I am from the UK where they are known as the very pretty physalis, (as you pointed out).They are used as much for decoration as for eating because of their beautiful appearance, looking stunning half opened in little bowls. They do have a tendency to get sticky and attract flies though, so eating them has always been more preferable to me.

  6. These are two wonderful, seasonal recipes. I’m dying to sit outside and work on this feast. With a bottle of white wine, of course.

  7. A wonderful panzanella that must taste wonderful! i love those yogurts too.



  8. gretchen says:

    i just love cape gooseberries. i always mean to make something, but we always ALWAYS wind up eating them all straight away. your recipe for panna cotta looks amazing. definitely want to try it…one day.

  9. What a great idea for gooseberries! I’m always intrigued by them at the farmer’s market, those papery built-in wrapper husks that hide the plump fruit within. I always end up nibbling a few, but never know what to do with them. And of course, your photography is so succulent it could make me want to eat a pile of stones. But I’ll stick to gooseberries.

  10. Melissa says:

    The perfect picture of spring. Can’t wait to try the recipes, they sound delicious.

    I might try the panna cotta with poached rhubarb on top as I have some in the fridge.

  11. Once again, your photography stuns me! Your posts always read like I book that I don’t want to put down. Where do you get your adorable utensils from — I’d love to know?

  12. Laura says:

    i’ve been reading for months and have you on my blog roll. but now i have to know: what kind of camera do you use? i am finally going to look into a *real* camera and i can think of no better blog photography than yours.
    thank you in advance,
    a fan

  13. I haven’t come across panzanella or gooseberries before so I am very intrigued. I have recently discovered the deliciousness of fennel so I has “yum” when I saw it shaved in your salad. Thank you for the fresh, sweet photos.

  14. Molly says:

    We discovered those berries at a farmer’s market here in Boston last summer. They’ve since been dubbed “crack berries” and have never actually made it home. We always gobble them in the lot. Hooray for springtime and all its delicious bounty!

  15. Lovely recipe. Ive been hankering after a pannacotta for a while now. You, my dear, are the answer to my recipe dream.

  16. heather says:

    Wow! I haven’t seen gooseberries since gathering them from my neighbors yard when I was a child in Denmark. I would love to try to grow some! Where can I get some seeds? Sounds like you came up with the perfect recipe for them.

  17. I haven’t seen cape gooseberries since my childhood :) Thank you for sharing with wonderful recipes!

  18. Laura- I am currently shooting with a Canon 5d mark ii. thank you!

    thanks everyone!

  19. Seanna Lea says:

    I want to just eat the gooseberries by the spoonful. They look delicious!

  20. You always use the coolest ingredients, Aran. I’ll keep an eye out for cape gooseberries. I’m intrigued!

  21. alice says:

    Two of my favourite Italian dishes adapted so beautifully. Thank you for sharing these delicious ideas!

  22. Unas recetas maravillosas, acompañadas de unas magníficas fotos.
    Mil gracias por las recetas.


  23. Ruth says:

    The panzanella looks amazing!

  24. Joy says:

    Oh gosh – so beautiful. Everything is so light and healthy. Perfect for summer!

  25. So beautiful! I’ve never tried cape gooseberries before, and I’m definitely going to keep my eyes peeled now! Your posts, recipes and photos always open my eyes. I’m curious as to what the gluten free bread is made out of though – do you know what flours they use?

  26. Harriett- I made the bread myself but I cannot share the recipe just yet! :)

    Thanks all!

  27. Your photography is just so beautiful. All the time. Absolutely flawless and inspired. Never tried a gooseberry, well a tomatillo but that’s different. I love those sweet jars.

  28. I have tried growing ground cherries (as they are labeled from the seed companies in the U.S.) for 2 years in a row, but I haven’t had much luck with them. I keep trying, though, as everyone says they are fantastic! (and traditional gooseberries are only zone 7 and colder). I haven’t given up yet; I will keep trying.

  29. LOVE your panna cotta! I’ve never had gooseberries but I need to find some now!

  30. a. maren says:

    oh those panna cotta are so beautiful! and with the bright yellow gooseberries! i have never seen gooseberries before, they look wonderful.

  31. Huh, gooseberries ……. there could be an underlining Easter theme here…. or not. Beautiful and yummy post. Thanks for sharing.

  32. I just found your blog! You have gorgeous pics in here! hughs Anja

  33. How lovely to have a recipe to use physalis in – I’ve always wondered how best to eat them and usually just end up discarding them when they are served with dessert.

    Beautiful pictures as ever.

  34. emmixad says:

    Your pictures are some of a kind, LOVELY! / em

  35. Such beautiful soothing pictures and adorable kids!

  36. The photo of that panna cotta is absolutely breathtaking. I would love to have something that decadent for breakfast today! In any case, I’ll be making it soon!

  37. Sofia says:

    Really interesting article.
    I didn’t know I had gooseberries in my garden! I call them physalis, but gooseberries is a much funier name. I use to use them to make colorfull salads.

    Let me introduce myself: I’m a portuguese girl, living gluten free for over one year and I love, love, love your photos!

  38. Shelby says:

    What a refreshing post for Spring! Those berries look exotic and delicious the way you used them…Stunning photography, as always.. Merci!

  39. Great idea poaching the gooseberries in a sugar mix! I moved to Czech Republic from the States and see them all over here, but hadn’t known what to do with them. My hubs’ grannie says they are very healthy. Bonus! ;)

  40. Ahh, cape gooseberries look exactly like what we call ground cherries. I wouldn’t be surprised if they’re the same thing. I’ve got some planted in our garden and I’m looking forward to Pennsylvania July because of them.

  41. ppceo2000 says:

    Beautifully executed blog- among my very favorites. Kudos to you from WPB. I can not wait to try this panna cotta recipe – please share why you purchased these beautiful little pots for custards. Mil gracias, Lillian

  42. I was positive that Gooseberry was something Dr. Seuss invented. Now I’m curious to try it out.

  43. I absolutely adore your blog. The design and photos are amazing! Please, keep up the great work! You inspire me to look at small things from different perspective! That’s almost like new world to me! I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels like this. Thanks again for sharing this with us!

  44. meg says:

    Mmm…panzanella. I love a sweet panzanella, too. I recently made a vanilla panna cotta–the vanilla bean seeds all seem to migrate to the bottom so that when you invert it on a serving plate, it’s beautifully spotted. How sweet!

  45. I love gooseberries and the panna cotta with some yoghurt sounds great!

  46. Just found your blog and the pictures are absolutely amazing! will be a regular visitor from now on!!

  47. Alelunetta says:

    Gooseberries panna cotta, looks great!! In italian we call gooseberries “alchechengi” and I love them.

  48. Sini says:

    I love gooseberries! They are such little beauties. But I have to admit that I’ve always used them just as decoration and never thought about cooking them or baking with them. Thank you for the inspiration, Aran! The panna cotta looks great. A must-try, for sure.

  49. Lucy says:

    Here in Hawaii we grow them all over, but call them Poha, said just like it looks – poe-hah. One of the ice cream companies here makes Poha Ice Cream, which is absolutely wonderful! What fun to see all the other names for a local berry. I have a bunch ready for planting to get more bushes.

  50. […] credit: Honey Yogurt Panna Cotta with Poached Gooseberries December 1, […]

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