Chestnuts are something of an anomaly in the nut family – they are very low in fat and are a great source of smart carbs (GI 54 for crushed uncooked chestnut kernels). They are also high in dietary fibre and rich in minerals like potassium and calcium and in B group vitamins. What else? Well, they are versatile – just roast them in ‘that open fire’ and enjoy hot, or add them to soups, stir fries, stuffings, casseroles, vegetable dishes, pasta, risotto and desserts. You’ll find fresh chestnuts in your supermarket or produce store from Fall through to early winter. Look for even-sized nuts which feel heavy for their size, with undamaged, firm shells. One kilogram of chestnuts yields approximately 700 grams (1 lb 10 oz) of shelled chestnuts. Because they are about 50% water, store them in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator to stop them from drying out. You can also buy them year round frozen, canned, vacuumed packed, pureed and dried.
How to prepare chestnuts
Chestnuts have two skins. One is the hard outer shiny brown shell and the other is the inner thin skin known as the pellicle. Chestnuts Australia shared their prep tips with us.
Lie chestnut on its flat side and cut or score halfway around the nut piercing both the outer
shell and inner skin.
Microwave: place layer of cut chestnuts in a covered container on high/100% for 2-3 minutes until shell opens and flesh is soft.
Roast/bake/grill: place cut chestnuts on oven tray and cook at 200C (400F) or under a moderate grill for 15 minutes until shells open.
Boil/steam: place cut chestnuts in a pan of cold water or steamer, cover, bring to boil and simmer for 15-20 minutes until shell opens and flesh is soft.
Immediately wrap hot cooked chestnuts in a tea towel for a few minutes, and whilst still
hot, peel off outer shell and inner brown skin.
Chilli chestnut fettuccine
Here’s a great way to use leftover pasta. This spicy, nutty blend delivers a tasty meal in double-quick time. Even if you have to start from scratch and cook the pasta, it’s a speedy meal.
Serves 4; Preparation time 5 minutes; Cooking time 10 minutes
3 tablespoons (60 ml) extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon crushed garlic
2 long red chillies, deseeded and finely sliced
1/3 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped
2 cups chestnuts, finely chopped
freshly ground black pepper
300 g cooked fettuccine (or your favourite pasta shapes)
shaved parmesan, to taste
- Heat oil in a large non-stick frying pan and add garlic, chilli, chestnuts and parsley until golden and fragrant.
- Add cooked, drained fettuccine and toss to coat in chestnut mixture and heat through. Serve topped with parmesan cheese and extra chestnuts, if desired.
1562 kJ/372 cal; 14 g fat (includes 2.5 g saturated fat); 12 g fibre; 7 g protein; 49 g carbohydrate
For more information on chestnuts visit www.chestnutsaustralia.com.au