Chestnut Lasagne, The Ultimate Comfort Food

Chestnut Lasagne, The Ultimate Comfort Food Chestnut Lasagne, Comfort Food – Central West Mums

This recipe is the ultimate comfort food.

Chestnuts are extremely nutritious and versatile to use in a variety of savoury and sweet dishes.  Chestnuts are packed with several vitamins and minerals and are high in fibre meaning it is good for nourishing healthy bacteria in your gut. I would describe their texture nutty and like a potato flesh.

Chestnuts are harvested usually from March through till July. They like to grow in areas that have hot summers and cold winters. We are fortunate to have a local chestnut farm here in Orange; Brittle Jacks Chestnut farm. If you can’t find them locally, Woolworths, Harris Farms and most supermarkets have them on the shelves right now.

When shopping for chestnuts, you should choose ones that have a tight, shiny skin and feel heavy for their size. Any that are too hard or too soft are probably bad, so take your time.

If you are looking for something different to make for your family, this chestnut lasagne is delicious and packed full of vegetables. You are essentially creating a nut meat which has a comforting texture.

Please note, this is a weekend cooking recipe and very rewarding when you sit down to enjoy it!

You can halve the recipe if you prefer to make a small one. You can also substitute the dairy for vegan cheese and soy milk for bechamel sauce.

Chestnut Lasagne

Prep time: 1 3/4 hours – Cook time: 45-50 mins – Serves 8-10

Ingredients

900g chestnuts (choose larger rounded ones that are shiny with tight skin)

4 tbsp of EVOO (Extra virgin olive oil)

Pack of Lasagne sheets (fresh or dry)

2 brown onions, finely diced

2 carrots, finely chopped

1 red capsicum/pepper, finely chopped

1 green capsicum/pepper, finely chopped

5-6 x garlic cloves, crushed

7 celery sticks, finely chopped

2 cups button mushrooms, finely chopped

1 bunch of kale, leaves washed and chopped (discard woody stems)

3 teaspoons dried Italian herbs; oregano, basil, marjoram

500ml vegetable stock

500ml tomato passata

2 tbsp balsamic / soy sauce

Handful of fresh sage leaves, to serve.

Bechamel sauce

4 tbsp butter

1/3 cup plain flour sifted

4 cups milk

3 cups of grated cheese* of choice; can mix cheddar, mozzarella and parmesan

Good pinch of nutmeg

salt and pepper

Method

Preheat oven to 190 C (fan-forced). Bring  a large saucepan of water to the boil and drop chestnuts in for 35-40 minutes. Drain and when slightly cooled, cut in half (across the centre, rather than from the top down) and scoop out flesh into a bowl trying to avoid the inner skins getting scooped out with it. The flesh should look like a cream coloured crumbly texture. If it looks otherwise, like dark and mouldy discard those ones. Spread out flesh in a baking tray and set aside.

In a deep large fry pan, heat 2 tbsp olive oil on a medium heat and add onion, carrot, capsicum, celery, garlic and herbs until just softened. Add balsamic or soy sauce, stock and mushrooms and let simmer for 5-10 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, place chestnut flesh under the grill for 5-7 minutes to toast up a little and remove.

4. Stir in tomato passata, add kale and chestnut flesh for a few minutes until sauce is thickened but not dry and turn off heat. Tip: I like to blend half or more of this mixture in a food processor or fine blender to make it more child-friendly.

5. Start by making the bechamel in a saucepan in a saucepan by melting butter over medium to high heat until foaming. Quickly stir in flour with a wooden spoon for about 1-2 minutes until it just comes away from the pan.  Slowly pour in the milk and add nutmeg while constantly stirring and bring to almost to the boil to prevent any lumps…Do not stop stirring for five minutes or so until it starts to thicken. Turn heat down to low and stir in the cheese until it just melts. Remove from the heat and season with salt and pepper.

6. Lightly grease two square baking tins with a half a tablespoon each of olive oil, I used a 23cm length x 23cm wide x 5cm deep tin so you could use one large dish or two of these, for freezing one ahead.

7. Spoon a layer of the chestnut sauce over the base of the dish. Arrange lasagne sheets over mixture breaking sheets to fit, cover with a layer of bechamel sauce and repeat, ensuring lasagne sheets are covered with the sauce and when finished cover with a sheet of foil, place into oven and bake for approximately 40 minutes. Remove foil and bake for another 10 minutes or till golden colour on top, then remove and rest for 5-10 minutes.

8. Meanwhile in a fry pan, heat remaining tablespoon of oil on a medium to high heat and and throw a handful of fresh sage leaves into the pan. They will start to curl and crisp up within 30-60 seconds. Remove from heat, scatter on the the top of lasagne and serve.

Serving suggestion: An Italian green leafy salad with avocado oil and balsamic dressing is a fresh compliment to this dish.

* Other cheeses that are lovely to use are Fontina, Jarlsberg or pecorino for different flavour options.

Enjoy!

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Amorette Zielinski

Amorette is a Mum of two boys who often keep her flying by the seat of her pants and a wife to a man who is so much fun to share life with; never dull! Friends often call her a ‘connector’ because she loves putting like minded people together curating experiences for them.

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