Ground Control

A different kind of cherry

When we first spotted golden ground cherries at the farmers' market, they struck us more as decorative garnish than essential ingredient.

Then we learned that this tomatillo relative serves a larger purpose beyond what its appearance conveys.

Chefs who've discovered the summer fruit's sweet-tart flavor profile are using ground cherries in drinks, sauces, baked goods and more. We've enjoyed them roasted and teamed with gamey meats, cooked into marmalades and turned into syrups for soda floats (click here to see a slide show).

We put the fruit's versatility to the test by incorporating it in recipes both savory and sweet. For a weekday meal, wrap the cherries up with black cod and cherry tomatoes en papillote-style (click here to see the recipe) to create a moist fillet and colorful garnish in one pretty package. When the weekend rolls around, break out the mixing bowls and spend a lazy morning baking a ground-cherry-studded coffee cake (click here to see the recipe) from Seattle's Volunteer Park Cafe.

Ground cherries are becoming more widely available at farmers' markets across the nation. But if your search for local ground cherries isn't fruitful, you can always try growing your own.