Roasted chestnuts make a fabulous addition to stews, soups, breads, and even salads. These nutrition packed morsels are so satisfying that once you give them a try, you'll be looking for ways to include them in your next meal.
Whatever Happened to Chestnuts?
It's kind of surprising that despite the fact we hear a song about it every Christmas, many people have never even tasted a roasted chestnut.
These nutritious nuggets were once an important source of food for people living in mountainous regions in Europe, where wheat and other crops could not be grown. However, this "poor man's meat" gradually lost its popularity in the 20th century, and many of the chestnut forests have fallen into neglect.
In North America as well there were vast chestnut forests, but these were destroyed by a blight in the early part of the 20th century. In recent years, there have been efforts to replant some of these forests and your chances of tasting a roasted chestnut are getting better all of the time!
You can buy fresh chestnuts in the fall months here in France and they are becoming more common in the States as well, as production increases. If you do find fresh chestnuts, you'll need to know about cooking chestnuts before you can use them in recipes.
Canned chestnuts are a great option for those of us wanting to use chestnuts year round, and also those who just don't want the hassle of cooking and shelling chestnuts. The taste is very good and the convenience is definitely worth the price.
Chestnuts are great sources of fiber.
Ten chestnuts contain about 200 calories, almost all of which are carbohydrates.
They are a good source of potassium, magnesium, iron and vitamin C.
Using Roasted Chestnuts
I am a huge fan of roasted chestnuts just as they are. I like to keep a jar in the refrigerator and am frequently opening it. Try a small handful of these carbohydrate packed goodies for a rib sticking, energizing snack.
For those of you ready to go further, here are some ideas for adding chestnuts to your recipes:
Make them into appetizers. Wrap a piece of raw cured ham around a chestnut and a prune and put this under the grill for a minute for a fabulous taste combination.
Try adding them to salads. For example: Arugula topped with sauteed mushrooms, chestnuts, walnuts and a balsamic vinegar dressing.
Serve them with fish for a surprising flavor combination.
Other Chestnut Products
If you love the flavor of chestnuts and are a dessert fan, be sure to try sweetened chestnut puree. You can spread this divine tasting stuff on just about anything or use it in a dessert recipe. There is an unsweetened version as well that can be used in savory recipes.
Try adding new flavor dimensions to your favorite bread or cake recipes with chestnut flour. It is gluten free, making it a good ingredient for people with celiac disease.
Or, if that all sounds like too much work, enjoy a tasty chestnut beer like Pietra - Corsica's signature brew.