How To Roast Chestnuts
I’ve been in love with chestnuts most of my life. My great Aunty used to roast them in the oven for me and my sister when I was young and serve them with cinnamon roasted pumpkin or free range roasted chicken where she made a stuffing made from chestnuts, caramalised onions and pear. I also love to cook them over a BBQ when I’m entertaining friends. They only have a short season and autumn is the perfect time to enjoy them fresh. Nutritionally 100 g has about 732 kilojoules (174 calories), 0.6 g fat, 3.4 g protein, 8 g fibre and 34 g of carbs. They have a low GI or 54 and are gluten free.
There is a secret to roasting chestnuts that many of you may not know. The first rule to remember is that not all chestnuts are created equal. It’s important when buying your chestnuts to get them from your local greengrocer and ask them to supply you with good (easy peel) chestnuts for roasting. There are many varieties and some are great for boiling, whilst other are suited for roasting, imparting a sweet, delicious nutty flavour to die for. Many supermarkets only sell the boiling variety which is great if you’re making stuffings, mashed chestnuts, salads or soups.
STEP 1 – CHOOSE A GOOD ROASTING CHESTNUT.
When buying chestnuts, look for even-sized nuts which feel heavy for their size, with undamaged, firm shells.
Get them from your local greengrocer and ask them to give you the right ones for roasting.
STEP 2 – CUT THE SHELL BEFORE YOU COOK.
Before cooking, the most important step is to cut the shell to prevent the nut exploding while cooking. I like to cut criss-cross slit across the round face of the nut using a small serrated knife.
Be careful and take your time.
STEP 3 – PRE HEAT YOUR OVEN.
Preheat oven to 200ºC.
STEP 4 – ARRANGE YOUR CHESTNUTS.
Arrange chestnuts cut side up onto a baking tray.
STEP 5: ROAST YOUR CHESTNUTS.
Roast chestnuts for 15 – 20 minutes or until the shell splits open if you’re using an oven.
Barbeque on a hot plate or cook in a cast iron pan, turning occasionally for 20 minutes or until the shell splits open.
STEP 6: ADD A LITTLE STEAM.
For easier peeling, wrapping the chestnuts in a tea-towel for 10 minutes will help with the peeling process.
STEP 7: PEEL AND ENJOY.
Peel your chestnuts and enjoy straight from the shell.
HOW TO ENJOY CHESTNUTS.
- Eat fresh from the oven
- Use roasted chestnuts in place of potato at evening meals. Drizzle with a little olive oil + enjoy.
- Serve with roasted cinnamon pumpkin.
- Add to a chicken or vegetable stir fry with a little tamari soy sauce and mirin
- Chestnut flour makes the best gluten-free cakes.I combine with fresh orange, honey and organic eggs – Wow what an amazing cake they make.
- Add roasted chestnuts to a wild mushroom risotto made from roasted buckwheat or brown rice and finish off liberally with fine grated parmesan.
- Make a salad from baby spinach, roasted chestnuts, shaved pear and drizzle with lemon and cold pressed olive oil dressing.
- Add finely sliced chestnuts to an organic egg omelette along with mushrooms and caramalised onion.
- Make a stuffing for roasted chicken or turkey by combining chestnuts, onion, pear, parsley and shallot.
- Combine chopped chestnuts into falafels made from chickpeas (garbanzo beans), pistachio, roasted garlic, lemon parsley and mint and serve with yoghurt or tahini dressing.
- Make pesto from chestnuts, fresh basil leaves, parsley, walnuts, garlic, lemon and cold pressed olive oil. Fold through zucchini noodles and baby spinach leaves.