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What’s coming up: Chestnuts

The Free Lance-Star food section and the Front Burner blog are reviving a popular feature from years past. Each week we will feature a vegetable or fruit that is in season in our area and offer tips on selection and cooking. Here on the blog, please feel free to offer your own serving suggestions for these seasonal delights!

This week’s feature: Chestnuts

When it’s fresh here: Fall to early winter

Fun fact: Chestnuts offer the protein and nutrients we praise in other nuts, but without as many calories or as much fat as most other nuts.

Pick and choose: The fresher the better. Chestnuts start off with a crisp texture right after they are picked, and get chewier as the days go by, before deteriorating into a dry, powdery texture.

Quick serving ideas:

  • Preparing fresh chestnuts for cooking is not a quick task (it is possible to buy them in jars already prepared). Cut slits in the shells and either roast or boil the nuts for 15 to 20 minutes. Break off the shells and then remove the thin, dark membrane covering the nuts. You might want to wear latex gloves, as this is easier to do while the nuts are hot.
  • Puree cooked chestnuts, and mix puree with powdered sugar and orange juice to taste. Spoon this mixture into pre-baked puff pastry or phyllo shells, and top with a dollop of fresh whipped cream.
  • Cooked chestnuts make a great addition to soups. One suggestion: the Beef and Chestnut Stew with Marsala from author Domenica Marchetti’s “Big Night In.”


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