Thursday, February 5, 2009

Ziti with Chestnuts and Mushrooms, MCAH p52

Simplicity. That is what we strive for cooking on weeknights when one or both of us are working late or at yoga. Since Doris is teaching at night two days a week, I am responsible for having a hot dinner on the table when she gets home. In these situations, pasta is typically the go-to meal. Usually frozen ravioli, but that would not be blog worthy. I chose this recipe for the unique flavor combination and the ease of preparation.

I was looking forward to trying Bittman’s boiling method for peeling fresh chestnuts since we always do the pierce-roast-peel technique to mixed results. However, FreshDirect only sells pre-roasted, shelled chestnuts, which cuts out a big chunk of prep time. The recipe calls for 15 chestnuts. Not being sure of the weight to nut conversion, I ordered two packs. About 5 oz. of nuts (one pack) is sufficient. Rehydrating dried mushrooms always renews my love for our hot water pot. If you don’t have one of these, they are really useful, especially if you are big tea drinkers like us. Make sure you save the resulting mushroom “tea” to make the sauce.

The cooking method is very straightforward. Instead of dressing the cooked pasta with the finished sauce, I cooked the pasta until just before it was done and finished it with the sauce, allowing it to soak up the mushroom flavor. I also substituted penne for ziti since we buy it by the case from Costco.

One bite and we all loved it. The earthy flavor of the mushrooms and the sweetness of the chestnuts worked well together. The pasta really absorbed the flavor as well. I am looking forward to adding this to our regular rotation for when we need a break from tomato sauce. Luckily I have chestnuts ready to go.


  1. Both this pasta and the broccoli were delicious. Next time, I would finish the pasta with a tiny little bit of cream and some grated parm just to give it a little extra boost of umami. But don't get me wrong, it was delicious just like that. I had 2nds and wanted 3rds.

  2. My Mom read this post, got the recipe online and tried it last night. Haven't heard from her how it turned out. She was having trouble finding chestnuts, so I think she left them out.

  3. I'm Craig's mom. Yes, I did try your recipe last night. We really enjoyed it sans chestnuts, although I will try it again.