Midday Fix: Cucina Paradiso’s recipes for holiday chestnut dishes

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Cucina Paradiso
814 North Boulevard
Oak Park
(708) 848-3434
Chestnut and Butternut Squash Risotto

6 cups vegetable  broth
1/4 cup cream Sherry
1 Tablespoon olive oil
3 Tablespoons butter, divided
1small white onion, finely chopped
1/2 small butternut squash, peeled, seeded, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
1 1/2cups (10 ounces) arborio rice
2 cups peeled roasted chestnuts or jarred chestnuts, chopped
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
1 teaspoon chopped fresh marjoram
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley

Chestnut Preparation:
To prepare the fresh chestnuts, start with heavy, glossy nuts with firm, smooth shells. Cut a small cross on one side of each shell to let steam escape as the nuts roast and to make them easier to peel afterward. Place chestnuts in a shallow roasting pan; sprinkle with water. Roast in 400F oven for 25 to 20 minutes. Wrap the hot chestnuts in towel and squeeze to crush the shells. Keep nuts wrapped for 5 minutes before removing the hard outer shell and the brown skin inside, being wary of burning your fingers. One pound of fresh chestnuts equals about two cups when shelled.

Bring vegetable broth and sherry to boil in medium saucepan over high heat. Reduce heat to low; cover and keep warm. Meanwhile, heat the oil and 2 tablespoons of butter in a heavy, large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and squash; cook until onion is translucent, stirring often, about 10 minutes. Add rice; stir until rice is translucent at edges but still opaque in center, about 3 minutes. Add 1 cup warm broth; simmer until almost absorbed, stirring often, about 4 minutes. Add more broth, 1 cup at a time, allowing each addition to be absorbed before adding next until rice is just tender, stirring frequently, about 25 minutes total. Stir in chestnuts, thyme, and marjoram. Remove from heat; stir in remaining 1 tablespoon butter, cheese, and parsley. Season risotto with salt and pepper and serve.
Roasted Chestnuts in Foil

2 pounds fresh unshelled chestnuts
2-3 sprigs rosemary (or herb of choice – oregano, basil, tarragon or thyme)
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
2 teaspoons (to taste) coarse salt
freshly grated nutmeg (to taste)
freshly ground black pepper (to taste)

Preheat oven to 425. Place large sheet of foil on a rimmed baking sheet. Place chestnuts, flat side down, on a work surface. Using a utility knife or a sharp paring knife, carefully cut through the shell on the rounded side of each chestnut to score an X. Soak in a bowl of hot water for 1 minute. Drain chestnuts and pat dry; place in a medium bowl. Add rosemary (or herb of choice), butter, salt and nutmeg. Season with pepper and toss to thoroughly coat. Arrange chestnuts in a single layer in center of foil and gather up edges of foil around chestnuts, leaving a large opening on top. Roast until the peel begins to curl up and chestnuts are cooked through, 30-45 minutes, depending on size of nuts. Transfer chestnuts to a serving platter, scrape in any butter and spices with them, and toss to coat. Season with more salt to taste. Serve hot or warm.

Apple Fennel and Chestnut Salad

6 cups (packed) arugula

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