I am a nostalgic eater, especially around Thanksgiving. The aroma of roasted potatoes, sage-rubbed turkey and fresh cranberries bubbling into a sauce on the stove takes me back. Memories abound of the whole holiday affair from helping to set the table, fold napkins and shine our special silverware. The night before Thanksgiving was always sleepless and for good reason…
Visions of cheesy cauliflower, savory chestnut stuffing and buttered baby peas and carrots danced in my head. My grandmother made it all possible as she tinkered in the kitchen for days prior to us gathering around the table to give thanks. Today, I share many of these foods and memories with own family.
A Food Memory For Which You Are Thankful comes at such a fitting time. However, it’s hard to point to just one food memory, but here’s a vivid holiday memory of …
Chestnuts roasting on an open fire. They take me back to going into the city – New York City that is, with my two older sisters and my grandmother. We’d take the train downtown to Macy’s at Herald Square. It was larger than life there — and as a little girl, I’d look up in awe at the grand buildings adorned with holiday trimmings and trappings. We’d pass all sorts of street vendors, but the ones that stand out are the chestnut-roasters as the warmth and sweet aroma were an attractive reprieve from the cold. Wrapped in tinfoil packets, we’d clutched the nuts in our gloved hands and nibbled while window shopping. I was so thankful for this delicious earthy nourishment, as well as the company of the people I loved most in the world.
My grandmother roasted her own chestnuts and tossed them with sausage, hunks of white bread and seasonings to create a legendary dressing to our holiday feast. Today, I am going to give her dish a nutrition boost – chestnuts will remain the star, but I will incorporate more veggies and whole grain bread into the mix.
Roasted Chestnut, Mushroom and Cranberry Stuffing
Serves 5 (1 cup each)
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup leeks, diced
1 cup Baby Bella mushrooms, diced
1/2 cup fresh cranberries
10 whole chestnuts, roasted, shelled and diced
1 1/2 cups vegetable broth, low-sodium
1 loaf whole grain Artisan bread, diced
2 Tablespoons fresh sage, diced
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
Score chestnuts with a pairing knife. Place chestnuts in a 400 degree oven for 20 minutes. Remove from oven when shell is turning up, let cool for a minute. Using a pairing knife gently peel the skin away. (I’ve also seen that chefs boil them in hot water for a few minutes and shell with pliers.) Once chestnuts are shelled, set aside.
Put olive oil in pan, add leeks, mushrooms, cranberries and chestnuts and stir to heat. Once heated, add broth and bread. Mix to moisten bread. Add sage and salt and pepper. Serve immediately or put in warm oven until served.
Nutrition Information (per serving): Calories: 229, Total Fat: 7 g, Saturated Fat: 1 g, Trans Fat: 0 g, Cholesterol: 0 mg, Sodium: 403 mg, Carbohydrates: 35 g, Dietary Fiber: 4 g, Sugars: 7 g, Protein: 7 g
Enjoy eating simply,
P.S. Happy and healthy holiday season to you and your family!