These recipes come from Stefano Marchi, host and owner of La Palazzina, an Agriturismo accommodation in Castelnuovo di Garfagnana, Italy, that we recommend highly.  The recipes represent dishes from the kitchens of Garfagnana and in particular from  those that are a part of the chestnut industry in Tuscany.  If you encounter problems with recipes please let me know.  We're dealing with language translation as well as measurement equivalents and errors are bound to happen.  Where we've had particular success with a recipe you'll find our notes highlighted.
 

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Tuscan Appetizers and Soups

Tuscan Main Dishes and Miscellaneous

Tuscan Sweets


Information about 
  La Palazzina


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Tuscan Appetizers and Soups
TARTINE AL FORMAGGIO
(Cheese Canapes)
Metric
100 g
100 g
100 g
100 g
1
50 g
150 g
US
3/4 C wheat flour
3/4 C chestnut flour
2 C grated parmesan cheese
1/4 lb butter
1 egg
3/8 C cream
1 1/8 C grated Emmenthal cheese
salt
pepper
Mix the two flours and the parmesan and Emmenthal cheese together.  Add the melted (not hot) butter, the cream and the beaten egg a little at a time.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Make a dough with your hands and knead to give it an even consistency.  You may need to add a bit of water.  Roll it out on a lightly floured board to about 1/4" thickness with a 2 1/2" cookie cutter.  Place on baking tin.  Bake at about 400o F (200o C) until they become a golden biscuit color.

An interesting hors d'oeuvre.  Our guests liked it.

 

Tuscan Main Dishes and Miscellaneous

SACCHETTINI AL FORMAGGIO
(Little Cheese Bags)

Metric
60 g
80 g
3.5 dl
2
1 tbsp
400 g
200 g

4 tbsp
US
3/8 C + 1 tbsp chestnut flour
2/3 C wheat flour
3/4 C milk
2 eggs
1 tbsp butter
1 3/4 C white sauce
1 1/2 C ricotta cheese
nutmeg
4 tbsp grated parmesan cheese
Beat the eggs in a bowl, add the two mixed flours, and 1 tbsp butter.  Stir well and then mix in the melted butter and 1/2 C of the milk.  Cover it with a clean linen and let it rest for 10 minutes.

Butter a non-stick frying pan and drop in a little ladleful of batter.  It should spread over the bottom of the pan as far as possible to obtain a thin layer.  When it has cooked on one side, turn it over and cook on the other side.  Carry on the same way until the batter has been used up.

Put half of the white sauce in a bowl, add 1 tbsp of grated parmesan cheese, 2 tbsp of ricotta cheese.  Spread the mixture on each pancake, then close them with a blade of spring onion grass as if they were little bags.  Arrange them on a buttered baking tin.  Combine the remaining white sauce with the remaining milk, pepper, nutmeg and the remaining  grated parmesan cheese.  Sprinkle the little bags with the sauce and cook in a hot oven at 400o F for 20 minutes.

TROFIE DI CASTAGNE ALLA GENOVESE
(Genoese Chestnut Fusilli)

Metric
100 g
200 g
200 g


1
US 
3/4 C flour 
1 1/2 C chestnut flour
1 1/2 C boiled mashed potatoes
milk as necessary
1 egg
salt
pepper
pesto or ragout sauce
Mix the 2 flours, the mashed potatoes, the egg, salt and pepper to taste and enough milk to obtain a smooth and thick dough.  Divide it up into little pieces each about the size of a large pea.  Roll these pieces between your hands to make little sticks and then wind these round a knitting needle in a spiral to give them a fusilli shape.

Cook in plenty of salted water.  Drain well and dress with pesto or with a good hot ragout and serve

 

RAVIOLI DI CASTAGNE ALLA CARNICA
(Carnic Chestnut Ravioli)

Metric
For pasta:
150 g
150 g
1 tbsp
1
50 g

For filling:
3
1
200 g
150 g
1-2 tbsp

For dressing:
200 g
40 g
US

1 1/8 C chestnut flour
1 1/8 C wheat flour
1 tbsp oil
1 egg
3/8 C milk
salt

3 green onions
1 garlic clove
5 oz. frozen spinach thawed
6 oz. ricotta cheese
1-2 tbsp butter
salt and pepper


7 oz butter
1/4 C parmesan cheese
Make the dough combining all the pasta ingredients.  Knead it well until the pasta dough is of an elastic consistency.  Mince the onion and garlic rather finely; brown them in boiling butter and then add chopped spinach.  Let the spinach absorb the flavors; combine it with ricotta cheese, a pinch of salt and pepper and stir from time to time to obtain an even mixture.

Roll out a thin layer of pasta dough and cut into strips about 3" wide.  Place small heaps of the filling mixture on the dough in a line.  Fold a strip of dough over the top and press it down well around the sides of the filling.  Now cut out the ravioli with a pastry wheel in semicircular shapes, 2 1/2" in diameter.  Boil in salted water, drain well, add very hot butter and grated cheese.

Tasty but forming the raviolis was a bit tricky.

 

POLENTA MONTANARA D'AUTUNNO
(Autumn Mountain Polenta)

Metric
200 g
100 g
100 g
1 tbsp
4-6
4-6 tsp
US
1 1/2 C cornstarch
3/4 C cornmeal
3/4 C chestnut flour
1 tbsp cream
4-6 little ladles of meat ragout
4-6 tsp grated parmesan
salt and pepper
GLUTEN FREE
Combine the 2 corn flours.  Add the chestnut flour, salt and pepper.  Put 4 C lightly salted water to heat; bring it to a boil.  Pour in the flours.  Cook and stir all the time as for a normal polenta.  If necessary add hot water in order to obtain a blended and smooth mixture.  Dress it rapidly with butter and keep on stirring.  Pour it in little bowls and dress with hot meat ragout.  Strew on top with pepper and grated parmesan cheese.

TORTELLI

Metric
250 g
75 g
1 tbsp
1

5
1
400 g
US
1 7/8 C chestnut flour
1/4 C + 1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp sugar
1 pkt castor sugar with vanilla flavour
5 eggs
1 lemon
13 oz peanut oil
GLUTEN FREE 
Bring 1 cup of water to the boil.  Add butter.  Then take the pan out of the heat, pour in the flour and stir quickly to obtain a smooth batter and allow to rest.  When the batter is cold add eggs, one at a time, sugar, grated lemon zest.  Heat the oil up, not too much.  Make little fritters by frying tablespoonfuls of mixture in the oil in a frying pan.  Let them swell and become a golden colour.  Arrange on a serving plate and dust with icing sugar and cinnamon.

MALTAGLIATI DI FARINA DI CASTAGNE
(Chestnut Maltagliati)

Metric
For pasta:
150 g
150 g
2

For sauce:
200 g
200 g
1

1 dl
1
US

1 1/8 C chestnut flour
1 1/8 C wheat flour
2 eggs
salt

7 oz porcini mushrooms
7 oz pumpkin pulp
1 shallot
parsley
3.4 oz extra virgin olive oil
1 little ladle beef stock
salt and pepper
Put the 2 kinds of flour together on a pastry board.  Put the two eggs and a pinch of salt in the middle.  Work it all together with your hands until the dough is soft and elastic.  Wrap it in plastic wrap and let it rest for about 30 minutes.  Roll the dough out and cut it into strips about 3/4" wide and 2 inches long.  Place them on the floured pastry board and let them dry.

Slice the mushrooms.  Mince the shallot and brown in a non-stick frying pan with 3 tbsp oil.  Add pumpkin. Continue stirring with a wooden spoon.  Let it flavour with a pinch of salt and pepper.  Combine with the pumpkin and strew with washed and minced parsley.  Meanwhile, cook the pasta in plenty of boiling salted water.  Drain when cooked al dente and serve with the hot porcini and pumpkin sauce.

GNOCCHI DI CASTAGNE
(Chestnut Gnocchi)

Metric
350 g
200 g
1
1 C
US
2 5/8 C chestnut flour
1 1/2 C wheat flour
1 egg
1 C pesto
water and salt as necessary
Mix together the 2 flours.  Add 1 lightly beaten egg and a pinch of salt.  Make the dough using enough water to give it a soft but solid consistency, cover and let it rest for some minutes.  Make little roll shapes out of the dough.  Cut these up into little pieces of about 3/4" in diameter.  Dust with flour and let them rest.  Very carefully make a small indentation in each one with your thumb to obtain shell shaped pieces.  Cook them in plenty of salted water.  Strain and dress with pesto.

LASAGNETTE DI CASTAGNE CON TROTA E ASPARAGI MANTECATI ALLA RICOTTA
(Chestnut Little Lasagnas with Trout and Whipped Asparagus Dressed with Ricotta Cheese)

Metric
2
160 g
120 g
160 g

120 g

1
US
2 trout fillets
1 1/8 c + 1 tbsp cooked spelt
7/8 C asparagus
6 oz chestnut & eggs         
..pasta
7/8 C ricotta cheese
fish soup as necessary
1 garlic clove
olive oil
white wine
white pepper
salt
parsley
red pepper
hot paprika
butter
garlic
Make the pasta.  Cut it into parsley shape sheets.

Clean and cut the trout into little cubes.  Brown a garlic clove with oil and butter.  Brown the red pepper, the trout and the asparagus after.  Pour in the white wine and let it evaporate.  Add salt and pepper, paprika, minced parsley and spelt.  Pour in the fish soup and the ricotta cheese.  Boil the pasta.  Arrange one layer of pasta on a plate.  Put some stuffing on top and cover with other pasta.  Carry on the same way until the stuffing has been used up.  Then dust with parsley, pepper and garnish with red pepper.

Unique and delicious.

 

TAGLIERINI LEVANTINI
(Levantine Thin Noodles)

Metric
300 g
300 g
1 C
1
US
2 1/4 C chestnut flour
2 1/4 C wheat flour
1 C meat ragout
1 C dry white wine
milk
water
grated parmesan cheese
Mix the 2 flours on a pastry board and put wine, water as necessary and a pinch of salt in the middle.  Work it all together with your hands to make a rather firm, well mixed dough.  Cover it with a clean linen and let it rest for 10 minutes.  Roll it out with the rolling pin into a thin layer.  Dust it with some wheat flour, roll it up on itself and cut it into fine sticks.  Boil this pasta in plenty of boiling milk, drain it well and dress with the meat ragout and grated parmesan cheese.

CREMA CON FAVE E CARDI
(Broad Beans and Cardoom Thistle Cream)

Metric
150 g
120 g
2

2
1
200 g

2
1/2
US
1 1/8 C skinned broad beans
1 C chestnut flour
1 bay leaves
celery
2 carrots
1 onion
7 oz. clean thistle
wheat flour
2 garlic cloves
1/2 lemon
meat stock
butter
croutons
salt
Boil the broad beans (shortly drenched) in pure water with bay leaves and minced carrots, celery and onion.  Let them cook for 45 minutes.  Drain and pour into a casserole with the chestnut flour.  Separately, boil the thistle in salted water with 2 slices of lemon; cut them into little cubes.  Flour and brown them in the butter with minced onion.  When finished, add this mixture to the chestnut and bean cream.  Add enough stock, heat up and serve with toasted croutons.

MINESTRA CAPUCCINA
(Capuchin Soup)

Metric
150 g
100 g
2 tbsp
1
1
2
120 g
1 1/4  l
2 tbsp
US
1 1/8 C pearl barley
3.5 oz bacon
2 tbsp oil
1 onion
1 garlic clove
2 carrots
1 C chestnut flour
40 oz. meat stock
2 tbsp grated pecorino cheese
salt
pepper
Mince and brown the bacon with oil in a casserole.  At this point, add carrots and onion flakes.  Let them brown for some minutes.  Then pour in the meat stock.  Make it boil and add the barley.  Cover and cook for 1 hour.  Pour in the chestnut flour with salt.  Stir and keep on cooking but let it not reduce.  If that happens, add some hot water or stock.  When it has finished cooking, strew on top with pepper and grated cheese.  Then serve.

PESCE PERSCICO CON SALSA DI CASTAGNE
(Sea-Rock Perch with Chestnut Sauce)

Metric
2 kg
4
1/2
100 g
1
US
4 lb sea-rock perch
4 garlic cloves
1/2 C extra virgin olive oil
3/4 C chestnut flour
1 C milk
salt
pepper
GLUTEN FREE
Wash, scale and take out viscera from the fish.  Rub it inside and outside with salt and pepper.  Spread the abdominal cavity with minced garlic and parsley.  

Oil the fish, wrap it in an aluminum rectangle paper and cook it in the oven for 45 minutes.  Dissolve the chestnut flour with water and milk, add salt, pepper and 1 tbsp. oil.  Heat up the mixture until it has reduced to a fluid cream.  Use this cream to dress the fish pieces that should have been arranged on individual plates, and serve

 

PESCE SPATOLA IN SALSA ORIENTALE
(Paddle Fish with Eastern Sauce)

Metric
1 kg
1/2 glass
2
200 g
2
US
2 lbs paddle fish
1/2 C olive oil
2 big onions
1 1/2 C chestnut flour
2 lemons (juice from)
butter
salt
pepper
GLUTEN FREE
Clean the fish.  Take its head, tail and viscera off.  Cut it into pieces (about 6" each) and take out the bone.  Divide each piece of fish into two parts.  Oil them, put them in an oiled baking tin and roast in a pre-heated oven for 15 minutes at 400o F.  Mince and fry the onions in a little butter.  Then strew them on the fish pieces.  Dissolve the chestnut flour with the lemon juice and the same quantity of water in order to obtain a mixture of cream consistency.  Drop it on the onions and cook in oven for 15 minutes at 350o F.   

POLENTA DI NECCIO
(Waffels Polenta)

Metric
1.5 l
1 kg

 
US
6 C lightly salted water
2 lbs sieved chestnut flour
GLUTEN FREE
Bring the water to a boil, preferably using a cauldron.  Pour in the sieved chestnut flour, stirring all the time with a wooden spoon to avoid clumps forming.  Continue cooking over a low heat for about 45 minutes.  The polenta is done when it comes away in a mass from the sides of the pan.  At this stage tip it out on to a wooden board and cut it into slices.

PORK BONES
(Commonly served with polenta)

Metric
1 kg per person
US
2 lbs  pork bones per person
GLUTEN FREE
Ask your trusty butcher for about 2 lbs pork bones per person of pork bones from steaks, breast and little trotters.  All these bones should be fleshy enough.  Pickle them for some hours with rosemary leaves, a pinch of cinnamon and pepper.  Then take out the bones and dust them with salt.  Arrange the bones in layers at the bottom of a large bowl.  Dust each layer with plenty of salt.  Let them rest for 10 days in a  fresh and dry place.  After 10 days, wash the bones with running water and cook them in plenty of water.  When cooked, serve with hot polenta.

BIROLDO
(A kind of salami)

Metric
200 g
300 g
400 g
US
7 oz thick bacon
11 oz blood sausage sliced
14 oz sausage cubed
1 C vinegar
GLUTEN FREE
Fry each kind of meat in separate pans.  Use some oil only to fry the biroldo.  When they are brown enough, pour them in a large pan and add the vinegar.  Let the liquid reduce.  Then take out of the heat, cover with a lid and let soften for one minute.  Serve very hot.

FRITTELLE DI NECCIO
(Chestnut Fritters)

Metric
500 g
1 l
1
US
3 3/4 C chestnut flour
34 oz water
1 pinch salt
GLUTEN FREE
Beat all the ingredients to obtain a soft batter.  Let it rest for 1 hour.  Put seeds oil or lard in a frying pan.  Make little fritters by frying tablespoons full of the batter in the oil, which should be very hot but not boiling.  Serve them hot with ricotta cheese.

NECCI

Make a batter with the chestnut flour as for the chestnut fritters but thicker.  Heat up two "testi" (moulds of the same depth and width as a plate).  Pour 2-3 tbsp of batter in one of them.  Cover it with the second testo.  Press them using a piece of wood in order to spread well the inside mixture.  Make this operation during 1-2 minutes.  Meanwhile turn the testi upside down t least twide.  When the neccio is cooked, roll it up and fill it with ricotta cheese.

Tuscan Sweets

LA CASTAGNA A GOCCIA
(The Chestnut in Drops)

Metric
For the cake:
4
100 g
60 g
1/2 pkt
100 g
For the cream:
350 cl

100 g
35 g

For the syrup:


1


100g
 
US


4 eggs
3/4 C wheat flour
1/2 C chestnut flour
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 C sugar


12 oz. milk
3 eggs
3/4 C sugar
1/4 C wheat flour
orange zest


orange juice
cognac as necessary
1 clove
water as necessary
cinnamon
3/4 C sugar
1/8 C fresh chestnuts
Sponge Cake Preparation:
Whip the eggs with sugar to obtain a light and frothy mixture.  Combine carefully the two sieved flours with the baking powder and mix with the eggs and sugar.   Bake the mixture in a pre-heated oven to 350o F for 5-10 minutes, then 300o F until done (40 minutes).  

Cream Preparation:
Make a batter with 3 egg yolks, 2 egg whites and the other ingredients.  Take the milk to the boil with the orange zest.  Take out of the heat and add the previously done batter.  Bring again to the boil.  At this point the cream is ready.

Syrup Preparation:
Bring all the ingredients to the boil in a copper pot.  Divide the sponge cake into two layers.  Moist them with the syrup.  Fill with cream.  Place on a plate and serve with an orange-flavoured English cream and with minced fresh chestnuts.

 

MOUSSE DI CASTAGNE
(Chestnut Mousse)

Metric
For coupelles
100 g
100 g
100 g
150 g

For the mousse
600 g
100 g
100 g
150 g
1/2 glassful
1/2 glassful
US


3/4 C castor sugar
3/4 C wheat flour
7 tbsp butter
3/4 C egg white
1/2 tsp vanilla


21 oz  chestnuts in shell
3.5 oz dark chocolate
3.5 oz butter
1 1/8 C castor sugar
1/2 C milk

1/4 C liqueur
1/8 C chopped walnuts
Preparation of the coupelles:
Soften the butter.  Add the castor sugar, vanilla and the egg whites a little at a time.  Pour in the flour and make a soft dough.  Cover the base of a buttered baking tin with the dough.  Cook in the oven at 400o F until the edges become of a golden biscuit colour.  While the dough is still soft, cut it into round shapes by using an upside-down glass.
Preparation of the mousse:
Boil the chestnuts, peel and process in a food processor.  Melt the chocolate in a double boiler with the butter and sugar and dissolve everything with milk.  Pour the chestnut puree into a bowl.  Add the melted ingredients and moist with some milk and liqueur if necessary  Pour the batter into the coupelles.  Garnish with chopped walnuts.

CASTAGNACCIO
(Chestnut Cake)

Metric
400 g
500 g
30 g
US
1 1/2 C chestnut flour
1 1/8 C water
1/8 C chopped walnuts
zest of 1 orange
rosemary
oil
salt
GLUTEN FREE
Make a dough with flour, water and salt.  Knead (mix) it well.  Place a dough layer (1/2" thick) in a baking tin.  Moist its surface with some oil.  Dust it with walnuts, pieces of rosemary and the orange zest.  Bake in oven at 375o F for 40 minutes.

If you're looking for a unique dessert to serve your guests this one fills the bill.  You might try topping it with ricotta cheese as they sometimes do in Italy, or with whipped cream.  You might also try adding 1/4 C of miniature chocolate chips to the dough.

 

MANTOVANA DI NECCIO CON YOGURT
(Neccio Mantovana with Yogurt)
Metric
For the cake
150 g
6
200 g
300 g
150 g
30 g
For the yogurt cream
100 g
100 g
100 g
200 g

 
US


1 1/8 C chestnut flour
6 eggs
7 oz margarine or butter
2 1/4 C sugar
1 1/8 C wheat flour
1 oz cocoa



3/4 C cream
3/4 C sugar
3/4 C ricotta cheese
7 oz light yogurt
Whip 6 egg yolks together with margarine and 1 7/8 C sugar.  Sieve the two flours and combine with the two previously done doughs and cocoa.   Butter and flour two baking tins measuring 10" in diameter.  Pour in the mixture and cook in the oven at 325o F for 45 minutes.  When cooked, let them rest for 2-3 hours.  Then cut them across.  Dissolve some rum with water and sugar.  Then use this mixture to soak the cake parts.  Fill them with the yogurt cream.
Preparation for the yogurt cream:
Whip the cream and combine the cream sugar ricotta cheese and yogurt.  Fill the Mantovana neccio cake and garnish as you want. 

LA PATTONA
(Chestnut Flour Cake)

Metric
2 kg


100 g
100 g
100 g
200 g
US
4 lbs chestnut flour
wine
peeled, sliced apples
4 oz chopped walnuts
4 oz chopped hazelnuts
4 oz pine nuts
7 oz raisins
orange zest
GLUTEN FREE
Soak the raisins in wine for an hour.  Set aside.
Make a dough with all the ingredients.  Add raisins.  Knead the dough well.  Prepare some little dough balls and place them into little bags made from weaved chestnut leaves.  Roast in oven at 350o F for about 30 minutes.

MANAFREGOLI

Bring water to the boil.  Pour in the sieved chestnut flour and try to obtain a soft cream, even containing some little balls of not dissolved flour.  Let it boil for 30 minutes.  Then serve in hot plates with milk or fresh cream on the top.

BOMBOLINI
Chestnut Cream Puffs

Metric
500 g
500 g
2
2 pkt
2 tbsp
2 tbsp

1 pinch
US
3 3/4 C chestnut flour
3 3/4 C wheat flour
2 eggs
2 tsp baking powder
2 tbsp canola oil
2 tbsp sugar
grated orange zest
1 pinch salt
Make a dough with all the ingredients.  Knead it well and let it rise.  Roll it out and cut into round shapes.  You can use a glass for this operation.  Then fry them in plenty of hot oil.  Dust with sugar and serve hot.

BUDINO DI FARINA DI NECCIO
(Chestnut Flour Pudding)

Metric
50 g
11/2 glassfuls

200 g

1 pinch
100 g
US
1.8 oz bitter chocolate
3 C milk

orange zest
1 1/2 C chestnut flour
3 egg yolks
1 pinch salt
3/4 C sugar
GLUTEN FREE
Melt the chocolate in a double boiler.  Add 1 1/2 C milk and the zest of an orange to the chocolate.  Allow to cool, and in the meantime mix 1 1/2 C chestnut flour with 1 1/2 C milk.  Add 3 beaten egg yolks, the salt 3/4 C sugar, the melted chocolate cream.  Fold in the  stiffly-beaten egg whites.

Butter a pudding basin, dust it with sugar and pour in the mixture.  Put the basin in a container of very hot water and bake in a pre-heated oven, at 350o F.  The pudding is done when it is firm and when a toothpick stuck in the middle of it comes out dry.

 

TORTA DI CASTAGNE AL CIOCCOLATO
(Chestnut and Chocolate Cake)

Metric
500 g
1/2 l
150 g
50 g
50 g
10 g
US
3 3/4 C chestnut flour
17 oz milk
1 1/8 cocoa
3/8 C wheat flour
3/8 C sugar
5 tsp baking soda
Make a dough with all the ingredients.  Pour into a buttered baking tin and bake

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Allen Creek Farm 2000-2009
Artwork Dankwardt Ink, Inc. 2009