Zel's Vegan NutGourmet

Zel Allen Goes Nuts for Good Health

Posts Tagged ‘chestnut growers’

CHESTNUTS ARE BACK AND SO AM I!!!!!

Posted by Zel Allen's nutgourmet on October 21, 2011

The chestnut harvest is in and ready for cookin’! I’ve just placed my order and will probably be cooking and peeling a heap of the beauties when they arrive in about a week.

This year I ordered from Girolami Farms and Correia Farms but an abundance of the sweet nuts can also be found at Allen Creek Farms, Croft Chestnuts, Washington Chestnut Company, Chestnut Growers, Inc., and Delamarvelous Chestnuts. Don’t wait too long to order. Many of the farms sell out by mid November, though some will have chestnuts through January.

Honestly, I’m not getting a commission for touting the chestnut growers. I’m just very passionate about chestnuts and hope to see more people cooking and enjoying their naturally sweet flavor and delightful soft and creamy texture.

The neat thing is if you’re not inclined to cooking and peeling chestnuts, you can buy them already cooked and peeled. It doesn’t get better than that!

Today, I’m welcoming myself back to fun and utterly delicious nutty blogging. I’ve been absent for good reason. I just turned in the manuscript for my new cookbook. Yea!!!! And Whew!!!!!

While the new book will still have a banquet of nut recipes, it places the focus on killer-delicious vegan recipes for the holidays—from Thanksgiving through the New Year. During the year and especially during this coming holiday season, I’ll be sharing some of the nuttier delicacies from Gone Vegan for the Holidays, starting today.

A year ago I was puttering in the kitchen with my freshly cooked chestnuts and came up with a seductively delicious meal starter I call Tijuana Chestnut Cocktail. No, this cocktail is not a beverage like its name suggests. Instead, it was my effort to create a vegan version of shrimp cocktail—only much tastier with the addition of chestnuts that contribute more complex flavor.

It looks really elegant and is amazingly easy to assemble. The photo says it all.

Initially, I created this recipe to spotlight chestnuts, then replaced them with tofu for its ease of preparation. Either way, it’s a delicious starter. For an exceptional presentation, serve the cocktail in long-stemmed wine glasses or champagne flutes. Put each glass on a dish with a doily underneath and garnish with a slice of fresh lime on the rim. Make the cocktail a day ahead, chill it, and it’s ready to serve.

TIJUANA CHESTNUT COCKTAIL

Yield: 6 to 8 servings

1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 1/2 cups chopped fresh tomatoes
1 1/2 cups cooked, peeled and chopped chestnuts, or cubed firm tofu
1 large avocado, diced
3/4 cup chopped onions
1/3 cup chopped cilantro
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 to 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon salt
Cilantro sprigs
Lime wedges

1. Combine the diced tomatoes, chopped tomatoes, tofu, avocado, onions, cilantro, lemon juice, jalapeno, cumin, coriander, and salt in a large mixing bowl and stir well to distribute evenly. Serve immediately, or chill and serve later.

2. When ready to serve, spoon the cocktail into long-stemmed wine glasses, old-fashion glasses, or glass dessert bowls and garnish each with a sprig of cilantro and a wedge of fresh lime. Serve with spoons.

Posted in chestnuts, Cooking and Peeling Chestnuts, Nut Companies, Nut Recipes, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

I’M HAVING AN AFFAIR– WITH CHESTNUTS!

Posted by Zel Allen's nutgourmet on November 7, 2009

I love the versatility of chestnuts. No other tree nut can charm me with its sweetness and its unique potato-like texture that makes a dish like these tasty patties so compelling. Throughout the holiday season, I plan to have a supply of fresh chestnuts on hand. Once cooked and peeled, chestnuts will keep well in fridge for a whole week so I can have them ready to use when I need them for a recipe.

Buying Fresh Chestnuts
One of the neat chestnut growers on the West Coast, Ladd Hill Orchards Organic Chestnuts from Oregon, sells them fresh and dried. They also have a good supply of chestnut flour for anyone who enjoys baking for the holidays ahead. Another item they have available is a chestnut knife that comes in very handy for peeling the chestnuts. I’ve been cooking chestnut dishes for many years and bought my first and only chestnut knife this year. I sure don’t know how I managed without it—well, yes, actually I do. I always ended up with very sore fingers from peeling two or three pounds of cooked chestnuts in one sitting with nothing but a simple paring knife.

Because chestnuts are gaining popularity, some growers have already sold out. Here are other U.S. growers that sell chestnuts harvested from their own orchards: Empire Chestnut Company, Allen Creek Farm, and Girolami Farms Chestnuts.

Awesome Nutrition
Chestnuts totally rock because they’re very low in fat. You’ll never have to worry about gaining weight by eating chestnuts with a total fat content of 0.76 grams for 3 1/2 ounces cooked. That is low, low, low fat for a tree nut. And because chestnuts are about 14% fiber, they help to lower cholesterol.

Calorie wise, that 3 1/2 ounces will deliver 153 calories—not really too bad. At the same time, you’ll benefit from 2.9 grams of protein, 306 mg of potassium, and a good supply of B vitamins like thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, vitamin B6, and folate.

Chestnuts are the only nut that contains vitamin C—how about 24.7 mg along with some trace minerals like iron, zinc, and copper, all essential for good health.

Now, let’s get down to some serious cooking. If you’re one who adores cooking and spends a bit of time at it, you probably keep a few things on hand that work into great leftovers. I like to keep cooked grains like pearl barley or short-grain brown rice in the fridge for those spontaneous moments when I feel like composing something unique.

These sweet little patties make a great side dish and can even be the centerpiece of the meal. Serve them with a hearty tossed salad, a steamed vegetable, and a bean dish and you’ve got a fabulously satisfying meal. In keeping with the low fat content of the chestnuts, I’ve also kept the recipe low fat by water sautéing the veggies rather than cooking them the traditional way in oil or some other fat. It didn’t hurt the flavor of the patties one bit—these little babies are very flavorful and retain the natural sweetness of the chestnuts.

chestnutpatties

CHESTNUT PATTIES WITH VEGGIE CONFETTI

Yield: 12 patties

1 large carrot, cut into 1/4-inch dice
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 medium onion, diced

7 ounces firm tofu, rinsed and drained
1 cup coarsely chopped cooked and peeled chestnuts
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch cayenne

1 cup cooked pearl barley or short-grain brown rice

Garnish
Fresh dill or basil

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and have ready a large jellyroll pan lined with parchment paper.
2. In a large, deep skillet combine the carrot, bell pepper, and onion and 1/2 cup water. Water sauté the vegetables over high heat, stirring frequently, for about 7 to 8 minutes, or until the vegetables are softened and the onions are translucent. Add small amounts of additional water as needed to prevent the vegetables from burning.
3. While the vegetables are cooking, combine the tofu, chestnuts, salt, pepper, cinnamon, and cayenne in the food processor and process until smooth and creamy.
4. Add the cooked vegetables, along with the cooked barley, and pulse chop carefully to combine the ingredients well, yet still retain the appearance of some of the diced vegetables.
5. Spoon the mixture onto the prepared baking sheet, forming 12 patties. Bake for 35 minutes, then, use a spatula to transfer the patties to an attractive serving dish. Garnish with fresh herbs and enjoy.

References:
“Nutrients in Chestnuts” Sandra L. Anagnostakis and Peter Devin. Northern Nut Growers Annual Report, 1999.

USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference

Posted in chestnuts, Minerals in Nuts, Nut Companies, Nut Nutrition, Nut Recipes, Nuts and Health, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

 
%d bloggers like this: