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Tough Nut to Crack
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Tough Nut to Crack

Two weeks ago, I picked up some chestnuts at the farmers’ market.  October marks the beginning of the season (which usually runs through December or January) so if you want fresh ones, now is the time to look for them. I tried them about 4 years ago and learned that while they take a lot of preparation time, they are worth the effort.

Chestnut RoastingThere are several different methods of preparing (just Google and you will find several) but the one that worked for me last time was to roast them in the oven. I poked holes in each shell for ventilation, and put them on a baking sheet. Set the oven for 425 degrees, and roast for about 25 minutes. Remove the HOT chestnuts from the baking sheet, and put them in a cotton dishtowel to cool for a few minutes. After they cool to the touch, wrap the towel into a ball with the chestnuts inside, and begin to crack the shells. When you open the towel, you can crack the shells more to extract the nut, but it should be easier to contain all the mess.

When you buy the chestnuts, it is inevitable that there will be some nuts that just don’t pass the test. You want them to be pliable; about the consistency of a dried apricot or a prune. Any harder and you could damage your teeth. There will be slight discolorations, but if the consistency is right, they nut should be perfectly edible. They make a great snack! However, if you have a recipe planned, you might want to save some for that…

I made a casserole-style baked dish from Veganomicon by Isa Chandra Moskowitz – it paired the chestnuts with caramelized onion, butternut squash, and white beans. Kris said it was amazingly delicious, and I really liked it too.  Only things that I did differently from the recipe (posted here) was add 1 tsp of Herbs de Provence and 1 tsp of nutritional yeast to the crumb topping.  I also used gluten-free breadcrumbs which I prefer to the “real” thing.  This is not a recipe for the faint hearted. With the chestnut roasting time, it is definitely a “slow food” – it took me over 2 hours from start to finish – but worth the time. Added bonus that your kitchen will smell of roasted chestnuts afterward!

Caramelized Onion-Butternut Roast with Chestnuts
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7 Responses

  1. Josiane

    That casserole sounds awesomely good! I’m sure it was totally worth the long prep time.

  2. maryse

    it won’t appeal to you, but my favorite way to eat chestnuts is stuffed in a turkey. with nothing else. so yummy.

    also, if you only want to eat a handful, you can microwave them. cut a cross through the shell to let the steam out and microwave them on a paper towel for a few seconds.

  3. Cassy

    Those look so scrumptious! Your photos are amazing as well, crisp with such warm lovely tones.

  4. Jacey

    As synonymous as chestnuts are with the Christmas holiday, it’s surprising, but I’ve never tried one! The casserole you made looks delicious.

  5. idiosyncraticeye

    Mmm, chestnuts. I bash them open in a thick oven glove while they’re still too hot to handle! :)

  6. Seanna Lea

    I tried making chestnuts a gazillion years ago and it was pretty much a nightmare (I didn’t have the foggiest idea what I was doing). I should try again. I certainly have all of the other ingredients in the recipe.

  7. Caramalized Onion-Butternut Roast with Chestnuts « Vegan Food For Thought

    [...] at Lolly Knitting Around made this casserole and blogged some lovely pictures of it which put mine to shame.  She also made [...]

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