Posted at 5:00 AM Nov 05, 2009By Kathleen Willcox
In Europe, Asia and Africa, the lusty, starchy sunburst of flavor, aka, my friend the chestnut, is a pantry staple, and often a stand-in for the snooze-inducing potato in many a recipe.
So stop abandoning the chestnut--not only is it earthy, woodsy, rich and buttery, like other nuts, unlike most, it's super-low in fat while still maintaining a super-high protein profile. Fall is the time to scoop up the freshly fallen nuts. Go out and plunder the woods, or for the city-bound, the grocery store shelves, -and stock up on these complex, surprisingly tasty nutritional power houses. You'll find yourself using them in all kinds of stir-frys, baked concoctions, roasts, sauces and snack mixes. I love using them for a delectably unctuous rice pilaf.
Recipe: Oh, That Old Chestnut Pilaf
1 C wild rice (rinsed and soaked for an hour before use)
1 C Kasha
1 T butter
2 T olive oil
1 large shallot, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 medium carrot, peeled, very small dice
2 C chestnuts, chopped
1 T fresh tarragon (or 1 tsp dried)
1 tsp red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper to taste
4 C warm broth (chicken or veggie will work)
- Keep broth warmed in a heavy pot after bringing it up to a gentle simmer.
- In a separate soup pot, warm olive oil and butter, add shallot. Cook until translucent. Add the diced carrot, salt and pepper, cook for about 5 minutes over a low heat. Don't allow the shallot or the carrot to take on too much color. Add the garlic and cook for about 30 seconds until fragrant.
- Add the chestnuts, coat them in the oil and butter for about 1 minute.
- Add the rice and Kasha, coat them in the oil and butter and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
- Start stirring in the broth, ½ cup at a time until the liquid is absorbed. Cook at low simmer, allowing bubbles to form but never allowing a full boil to develop. Continue adding broth until the rice and kasha are cooked al dente. Taste occasionally and add salt, pepper, red pepper flakes to taste. If you need more liquid and cooking time, add it as you go, feeling free to sub in warm water if you run out of broth.
- Garnish with fresh or dried thyme.
- Eat and enjoy!