Treasure Chest-Nuts: Oven & Fire-Roasted

 

I wasn't much of a chestnut eater until last year during a trip to Italy. While there, Janet and I went to the Feast of the Chestnuts in the Southern Italian town of Noci. There we were walking the crowded streets with marching bands, street performers singing and dancing, comedy acts entertaining, and lots and lots of chestnuts roasting in the great outdoors!

The smells were too tempting and sure enough we had a bag of warm chestnuts handed to us. We both sampled one each and immediately agreed they were delicious. And, PS, chestnuts go great with a glass of red wine. A real holiday treat indeed!

If you enjoy a moderate amount of carbohydrates, chestnuts are a great alternative to sweet potatoes and the like. They are also fairly high in manganese, vitamin C, vitamin B6, and copper.

On a final note, not all recipes need be complicated to yield satisfying results. Here is such a recipe. You can roast these gems all on their own or with very few and simple add-ons. Chestnuts are in season October through March.  And, while some eat their chestnuts raw, due to the nuts' tannic acid content, if you go this route, be prepared for a bitter bite.

Oven-Roasted Chestnuts

Ingredients

* 1 lb. chestnuts

Optional: 

* 1 Tablespoon of real olive oil, avocado oil, coconut oil, or macadamia nut oil

* 1 pinch of unrefined sea or pink hymalyan salt

Prep

* Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees F.

* Using a sharp knife, cut an X into 1 side of the chestnuts. (This allows the steam to escape thereby preventing the chestnuts from exploding during the roasting process.)

Please go slowly with the above step and be careful not to lose control of the knife. 

* Toss chestnuts with any of the above mentioned oils if using. (Please note, the chestnuts taste great without any added ingredients as well. Go by your preference.)

Roast

* Add the nuts to a cookie sheet and roast approximately 15-20 minutes.

* Stir the chestnuts mid-way for even cooking. The chestnut shells should begin to open when near ready.

* Remove the nuts from the oven.

Eating Tips

* Place a mound of nuts in a dish towel, wrap them up, and tap firmly with a mallet or water glass bottom until the chestnuts crack open.

* Open the towel and allow the chestnuts to sit for a few minutes until they have cooled enough to handle. 

* Peel the nuts - both the hard shell and paper-like skin - and sprinkle on salt.  (FYI: Chestnuts are much easier to peel while warm.) Enjoy!

 

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If you're in the mood for a very traditional way of enjoying chestnuts, and if you have access to an outdoor grill, then try this!

Outdoor Fire-Roasted Chestnuts

* Place the pierced chestnuts at edge of the hot coals for 4-6 min or until you see them steaming or hear a hissing sound. 

* Remove the chestnuts, crack open, allow to cool somewhat, and peel while warm as indicated above.

* Feel free to add salt if you wish. 

Want to know if your nuts are really done? Try this trick: Don't pierce 1 of the nuts. When it explodes, you'll know the other chestnuts are done.

Fun Fact: Legend has it that long ago, teenagers would put un-pierced chestnuts on a fire and bet kisses on whose nut would explode first. Hmmm, now that sounds like a fun tradition well-worth bringing back!

 

If you've enjoyed this recipe, please share it with your family and friends. 

Also, if you'd like to leave a comment below, I always enjoy hearing from you.