This year I'll be adding more chestnuts to my diet with Three Yummy Chestnut Recipes! In fact long before they found their way into our hearts, chestnuts were a dietary staple in the mountainous regions surrounding the Mediterranean Sea. Because grains could not grow in those areas, the locals relied on chestnuts to round out their diets. And not surprisingly, chestnuts are nutritionally more like a grain than a nut. They are low in protein and fat, but high in starch and fiber. Naturally gluten free, they average 180 calories a serving and are unique in being the only “nut” to contain vitamin C.
Thanks to their distinctive sweet and nutty flavor, chestnuts can be added to all sorts of dishes in exciting and unexpected ways. Here are a few different ways you can try them:
- Raw or Roasted. For a simple and delicious treat, eat them straight from their shell any time you need a snack or a pick-me-up. (Be sure to always score and peel them first!)
- Pureed. Grind them into a puree and try them on crackers alone or with jam.
- As a form of bread. If you need to eat gluten free, chestnut flour is a safe and versatile choice. You can find it online, in some natural markets, or you can grind your own at home.
- Sprinkled on salads. Toss raw or roasted chestnuts into your salads for extra crunch and nutrition.
- Added to savory vegetable dishes like soups and stir-fries. (Be sure to check out Dr. Wendt's Brussels sprouts and chestnuts recipe below.)
- In tantalizing desserts. From spiced seasonal cakes to chestnut mousses and strudels, the sweet possibilities are nearly endless. Check out chestnut dessert recipes online for inspiration. Then get crackin'! And check out these Three Yummy Chestnut Recipes from Dr. Mary Wendt
Potato, Porcini and Chestnut Soup
• 2 ½ lbs. white potatoes
• 1 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
• 3 finely sliced shallots
• 1 lb.porcini mushrooms, cleaned and chopped
• 3 ½ cups warm water
• 2/3 cup roasted chestnuts
• fresh parsley
To roast chestnuts:
Score the bottom of each chestnut and place on a baking pan with scored side up. Roast for 25 minutes at 425 degrees. Remove the shell as soon as they are cool enough to handle. They should be shelled while still warm.
• Peel the potatoes and cut them into cubes of about the same size, so they will cook evenly.
• Cook the shallots in the olive oil in a medium pot on low heat. Add potatoes and mushrooms, stir and continue to cook on low heat for about twenty minutes, until all the mushroom water is cooked off.
• Add water to the pot and cook on low heat for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
• Crumble the chestnuts into the pot, leaving aside a few whole chestnuts. Cook for about twenty minutes, stirring now and then, until the potatoes are soft and the soup thick and creamy.
• Serve the soup topped with crumbled chestnuts, chopped parsley and freshly ground pepper. Finish with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.
Warm Chestnut and Apple Salad
• 6 cups (packed) arugula
• 6 cups (packed) coarsely torn curly endive
• 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
• 1 ½ medium Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, cut into 1/2-inch dice
• 3/4 cup thinly sliced shallots
• 1 ½ cups steamed chestnuts (from two 7.25-ounce jars), coarsely chopped
• 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
• 4 ½ tablespoons walnut oil
1. Toss greens in large bowl. (Can be prepared ahead. Keep covered in refrigerator until ready to use.)
2. Heat 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add apples and shallots; sauté 5 minutes. Add chestnuts; sauté 1 minute. Stir in vinegar, scraping up any browned bits. Remove from heat; stir in walnut oil and remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Pour chestnut mixture over arugula mixture; toss.
Marron Glacé (Glazed Chestnuts)
• 2 pounds chestnuts
• 2 pounds sugar
• 2 ½ cups water
• 1 vanilla bean
• Using a sharp knife, remove the chestnut shells, being careful to not damage the meat inside.
• Put the cleaned chestnuts in a large cooking pot and cover them with water. Let it come to a boil and cook for 8-10 minutes (if the chestnuts are cooked quicker than this time, reduce the cooking time for them … chestnuts usually cook for 8 to 10 minutes. Do not overcook!
• Carefully remove the membrane while they are still warm.
• In a medium pot, put the sugar, water and vanilla. Boil over low heat, stirring continuously, until the sugar dissolves.
• Allow to simmer for 5 minutes, and then carefully add the chestnuts.
• Boil for 10 minutes, so that they slowly boil over low heat. Remove from heat and discard the vanilla pod.
• Turn off the heat, cover and leave overnight in a cool place for at least 12 hours.
• Cook again and let them boil for just 1 minute.
• Again remove them from heat; cover and this time leave them for 24 hours.
• Repeat this step several times, until the chestnuts absorb the syrup (should not take more than 3-4 times).
• Cooking will prevent the crystallization process.
• Preheat oven to 140° F and cover the baking tin with parchment paper.
• Evenly distribute the glazed chestnuts and leave them to dry for about 2 hours in the oven by leaving the oven door open a few inches until they are glazed.
• Cool completely. Store them in a tray lined with parchment paper.