Saturday, 7 December 2013

Chestnut Pesto

Before the year runs away with me and we all get engulfed by Christmas I wanted to post this autumnal recipe. I have previously blogged about my love of chestnuts and how I am fortunate enough that my parents garden contains a couple of chestnut trees, so I have grown up picking these little mahogany balls of yumminess straight from among the leaves on the ground each year, rather than having to fork out a considerable amount of cash for a small little net in a supermarket. And in the last couple of years I have experimented with the many different uses of the chestnut from chocolate pots, and truffle cake to gnocchi.

When my mum started bragging about how plump and delicious this year’s crop of chestnuts are I immediately put in my order and started researching possible recipes to use the chestnuts in. This was when I came across quite a few pesto recipes that replace the pine nuts often found in pesto with chestnuts instead. Pine nuts can be quite an expensive ingredient so I loved the idea of replacing them with something foraged for free. I’m also not a big fan of pine nuts so this seemed like a perfect substitution for me. I made a very chestnut heavy version of pesto but you could easily increase the proportion of the other ingredients to suit your own tastes, but I didn’t want the chestnut to be over powered by the basil in this recipe. The resultant pesto is great stirred into freshly cooked spaghetti with a few wild mushrooms thrown in for good measure or a little fried up smokey bacon to create autumn on a plate.


80g raw, shelled chestnuts
A large handful of fresh basil
80ml of good quality olive oil
25g grated parmesan
1 large clove of garlic, crushed
A good pinch of sea salt.

After peeling the chestnuts (this can be a little time consuming and I find if I slit the top of the chestnuts with a sharp knife and then plunge into boiling water for a few seconds it is a lot easier to remove the chestnuts from their shells) place in a saucepan of boiling water and cook for about 5 minutes until they are just starting to cook but are still firm and crunchy.

Drain the chestnuts and place with the remaining ingredients in a food processor. Blitz until a slightly grainy paste is formed (adding a little extra olive oil if needed to reach the desired consistency).

Use as you would with any other pesto.

Store in the fridge.

Disclaimer: I feel that I should say that unless you are 100% certain what you are eating it is best to buy your chestnuts rather than go foraging for them, conkers for example are not edible and should not be confused with chestnuts!!

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