It is a tad bit early to start belting out the lyrics to a favorite Christmas tune, but that is what comes to mind when eating these delicious goodies. Chestnuts are loaded with soluble fiber, potassium, vitamin C and many B vitamins. They are also a good source of zinc and protein. They are a unique nut in that they have a very low fat content and therefore also lower in calories. The best part is how great they taste!
Before chestnuts can be enjoyed, the outer shell must be removed. Slice an “X” into the skin of the chestnut to allow steam to escape. Place in a 400 degree oven for about 15 minutes. The “X” will start to curl back- that is when you know they are ready to peel.
I find that it is easiest to peel chestnuts when they are warm. If they become too cool, they become buggers to get the outer coating off. It also helps giving them a little nudge with a nut cracker to get the peel off easier.
Once the chestnuts are roasted and peeled, they are delicious eaten as-is, but can be used in many dishes. I adapted a recipe found in a recent issue of Rachael Ray Magazine (Nov. 2011).
Blend ¼ cup olive oil with 3 anchovy filets. Spread mixture on chopped broccoli florets (Schuetz Farm). I roasted this mixture in a roasting pan at the same time as the chestnuts were roasting (Blue Heron Orchards, Canton, MO). Meanwhile, I combined ¼ cup chopped parsley, 2 cloves chopped garlic (Bellews Creek), and 1 tablespoon fresh lemon zest.
Tossed all together with the roasted broccoli mixture and chestnuts- a satisfying autumn side dish that will warm you when Jack Frost is nipping at your nose.