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Chestnuts in Italian Cuisine

This tasty autumn fruit is used in many savoury and sweet dishes throughout Italy, and especially in the mountainous parts of Tuscany where it is one of the most important foods.

The chestnut is a food with a mild sweet taste with a high starch content and it contains numerous vitamins and minerals. In Italy during October chestnut festivals are held (Sagre della castagne) during which the smell of roasted chestnuts spreads through the small towns and many chestnut delicacies can be enjoyed.

Large brown chestnuts can be bought in food markets in ItalyLarge brown chestnuts can be bought in food markets in Italy

If you would like to try dishes made from chestnuts, they can be bought during autumn at all Italian markets. Due to their high proportion of starch, a tasty flour can be made from chestnuts with which many dishes can be prepared.

One of the most famous are chestnut pancakes - necci, which are usually eaten filled with ricotta cheese. This treat combines the sweet taste of the chestnuts with the freshness of the ricotta.

Necci - sweet pancakes made from chestnut flourNecci - sweet pancakes made from chestnut flour

If you have the chance try one of Tuscany's most famous cakes - castagnaccio which is made from chestnut flour, water, raisins and pine nuts. Torta di maronni is a tasty dessert which consists of pastry and is filled with chestnuts, milk, eggs and Alchermes liqueur, whilst marocca di Casola is a type of bread made from chestnut flour.

Castagnaccio - cake made from chestnut flourCastagnaccio - cake made from chestnut flour

In addition to the mentioned also made from chestnut flour are tasty pasta, lasagne and gnocchi as well as polenta. Chestnut flour does not contain gluten and is suitable for making non-gluten dishes.

Chestnuts flour is ideal for making various sweet and savoury dishesChestnuts flour is ideal for making various sweet and savoury dishes

Chestnut flour is not cheap but very tasty dishes can be made from it which delight with its nutty flavour. It can be bought in all Italian food shops or direct from small producers who have their own mills and offer freshly milled chestnut flour. Be sure to try some of the chestnut recipes and you will enjoy the rich taste which this brown autumn fruit provides.


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