Autumn is an interesting time of the year when it comes to food, because there are a couple of particular foods that are extremely popular in Italy around this time. At least in this household.

One of them is chestnuts, or, like they say in Italy, Marroni o Castagne, and they are popular for a reason. Nutritionally they are a very rich food and very satisfying. Considering a chestnut is a nut, they are actually high in carbohydrates, but they also have an amount of prote├»n and fat. They are high in fibres and in certain vitamins and minerals. I do not imagine that every Italian is aware of this, but they do seem to have a knack for choosing types of unprocessed foods that can be very beneficial to their health. However, the chestnut has more to offer than “just” a lot of nutritional value. When you roast them, they are incredibly delicious and (this is especially very important to me) they are so easy to prepare. You cut their shell slightly and put them in the oven for about thirty minutes on 250 degrees Celsius. The cutting of the shell is essential. When you forget about this, they sort of explode while roasting (I have some personal experience in this area). It may not likely damage your oven (it might though), but it is an awful process having to clean the oven afterwards. And you’ve lost a nice chestnut of course.
After they’ve been roasted, you put them in a bowl on the dinner table. Everybody can take their share, crack the shell open with a quick blow of their fist and start peeling. You know it’s true love when someone hands you a beautiful peeled chestnut, instead of eating it themselves.

(Castagne / Marroni)

When you are in the mood for a chestnut taste, but you’re not in the mood to roast anything you can also enjoy a delicious chestnut cream. Just like putting chocolate paste on a slice of bread, you may as easily put chestnut cream on top of it. Or, if you don’t need the bread, you can also take a small spoon and scoop it directly from the jar (I believe this is one of my boyfriend’s favourite pastimes ).

Last, but certainly not least, is the pumpkin. They go crazy for pumpkin around this time of the year, especially in this region and we are happy to join their craziness, because pumpkin is delicious. The only issue, now and then, may be the cutting process, which is a rather violent business, and needs a proper knife. But once you have cut and cleaned your pumpkin you can use it for many spectacular dishes. Pumpkin soup, pumpkin risotto, pumpkin cream, pumpkin gnocchi, pumpkin cream with pasta, pumpkin lasagna, pumpkin cake, pumpkin roasted in the oven with a litte bit of garlic, olive oil and some fresh herbs. It is basically good for anything.

(Zucca)

Hopefully, I have given you some food for thought and perhaps you spot some comparisons between your own favourite autumn foods and the ones that we are extremely fond of right now in Italy.

From Italy with love,

Merel