Every year approximately 2 months before Christmas, I start getting giddy with excitement. So powerful is this Holiday for me that I am unshaken by the spooky merrry-making of Halloween, and I glaze past Thanksgiving with a grateful heart, but all the while looking ahead to Christmas Festivities.
This year however, I promised myself I would pay proper homage to the aforementioned two fabulous holidays and celebrate them whole-heartedly. So in all the frenzy of brainstorming creative costumes for Halloween, and planning a hearty Thanksgiving Feast, I forgot to get excited about Christmas! (*Gasp!*)
It took me until now – a mere 2 weeks before my favorite holiday of the year – to dawn with the realization that It’s Beginning to look a lot like Christmas.
So now that the Christmas Spirit has fully consumed me, I feel compelled to create dishes evoking memories of Christmas past. Chestnuts have always been one of my favorite winter munchies. The sweet succulent delights conjure images of the family enjoying these roasted delicacies while gathering ’round to watch movies in our pajamas. We found so many ways to enjoy them – drizzled with honey, sprinkled with salt, dipped in soy sauce. But in all these years of savoring them, I’ve never actually created a dish with them. So last night, I decided to work it into a simple weeknight pasta dish – letting the sweet smoky flavor of the chestnuts mingle with the savory taste of the mushrooms, and tying it all up with the peppery zest of the arugula and buttery nuttiness of parmesan cheese!
Gathering the Goodies:
- 3/4 cup of roasted chestnuts (recipe to follow), chopped
- 4-6 oz of pappardelle, tagliatelle or similar egg pasta
- 1-2 cups of arugula, washed
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 6 chinese black mushrooms, soaked for 20 minutes until soft, and sliced
- 1/4 cup shaved/grated parmesan cheese
- Salt & pepper, to taste
- Oil, to cook
- a pinch of dried tarragon
- 1/2 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 1-2 tsp soy sauce
Getting Into the Spirit:
- Prepare the Chestnuts: Cut the shell with an “X” where the shell bulges outward. Place the chestnuts in a dish and completely cover with water and soak for 20 minutes. Place in a baking dish and roast at 400 for 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from oven, peel, and chop!
- Bring water to a boil, season with salt, and boil the egg pasta for 6-8 min, until cooked.Drain and toss with a little olive oil to prevent sticking.
- Saute the sliced mushrooms in oil and a little bit of soy sauce until the aroma fills the air
- Pour in the egg mixture and scramble everything up.
- Add the chopped chestnuts and cook for another few minutes. Stir in the pasta and the remaining olive oil and mix until everything is well coated.
- Add in half of the parmesan cheese, and sprinkle in tarragon and more salt & pepper to season.
- Turn the heat on low, add in the arugula and toss some more, making sure the arugula does not actually cook and stays crisp.
- Scoop onto a plate, decorate with more parmesan flakes, and fill your tummy with Christmas!
- If you don’t have or don’t like black mushrooms, Portabello, oyster, or white mushrooms would be just as tasty
- If you can’t eat mushrooms, try other meaty veggies like eggplant. Other proteins like tofu or soy protein veggie “meat” products would blend well too.
- Try substituting spinach or even cabbage for arugula (although the cabbage would be better when well cooked)
- Indulge yourself and make a buttery cream sauce with herbs like tarragon, basil, thyme, or sage
- No one should be a scrooge, but if you can’t stand chestnuts (say it aint so), you can also use hazelnuts, walnuts, or almonds