Somewhere high in the mountains is a snowy log cabin where a little old lady is roasting chestnuts over an open fire for her holiday dinner. But for the rest of us, at least in America, they are a novelty holiday item that many of us have never even seen before; myself being one of these people. Recently I noticed them in a store, brought them home, and found that they are delicious! Come, let’s learn about these holiday delights together!
“Americans lost some of habit of eating chestnuts when a virus killed almost all American chestnut trees in the 1930s. The French never lost the taste. In addition to the famous roasted chestnuts that you can find on any Parisian street corner at Christmas-time, the French use chestnuts in a wide variety of sweetened and unsweetened dishes including Ardeches salad (chestnuts, potatoes, and pork over greens) and Corsican brilloli (chestnut polenta). For brisolee, a traditional harvest meal of the Valais, roasted chestnuts are served with cheese, dried meat, and autumn fruits.” –Touch of Europe Ahh, well that explains it.
I had been on the hunt to try chestnuts ever since I ordered a seasonal pasta dish with a creamy chestnut sauce at Biaggi’s last year. My mom and I ooo’d and ahh’d over it. I finally stumbled upon them recently and tossed them in my cart. They look like this. You can also find cooked chestnuts in a jar, or as a puree. And every year around the holidays local grocery stores have big bins of raw ones. Here’s the low-down on cooking them. It looks easy; this may be my next experiment. Note: these are not water chestnuts. Not even close.
If you’ve never tasted a chestnut before I’m here to tell you that they are a delightful brand of sweet and nutty. And since they are soft and packed with flavor a quick wazz in the blender with a few everyday ingredients is all it takes to make a super healthy sauce that rivals Alfredo! Read all about the health benefits of chestnuts here.
This recipe is very flexible so don’t get hung up on measurements. So scout out some chestnuts and whip up some creamy sauce before the season is over!
- Heaping 1/2 cup peeled and cooked Chestnuts
- 1 cup unflavored, unsweetened Almond Milk or milk of choice
- 1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon Salt
- 1 Tablespoon Vegetable Oil or other mild flavored oil of choice
- Cooked Pasta of choice
- Chopped Parsley
- Fresh Black Pepper
- In a food processor or blender combine chestnuts, milk, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and oil until very smooth.
- Toss with hot, drained pasta in the cooking pot over medium heat until heated through. Half of a 1 lb box of Rigatoni works well. If sauce becomes too thick add a bit of the pasta cooking water or a bit more milk. Once heated add 1/4 teaspoon remaining salt to taste. Serve immediately and sprinkled with chopped parsley, black pepper.