Chestnuts and Blueberries Risotto

chestnuts and blueberry risotto

With fall looming upon us, my cravings are for comfort food. Nothing better than risotto, ready in 25 minutes, delicious in its basic version, a blank canvas for your imagination. Today’s recipe is a modern twist on the classic one, with the addition of blueberries and chestnuts. While we have all learned what an extraordinary contribution berries give to our diet – thanks to their high level of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals – chestnuts are a bit less common, especially in the U.S.

In Italy and in southern Europe in general, there was a longstanding tradition of foraging chestnuts in the wild, keeping them for the winter either refrigerated or dried or boiled and reduced to flour. Chestnuts have constituted for centuries one of the few sources of sustenance in winter for myriads of people, free to be picked from the Castanea sativa tree, of which they are the fruits. They saved scores during the worst European famines.

Chestnuts are rich in vitamin C (hence their value to fight scurvy in the Middle Ages), magnesium, and fiber, which balances out the carbohydrates; and they contain a good amount of protein. They are low in fat and gluten-free. With a sweet and satisfying taste, they have nonetheless a very low glycemic index. They can be made into bread, soup, side dish, dessert, snack. Can be roasted, boiled, pureed, grinded into flour.

The season for fresh chestnuts is October-December. Chestnuts do not present the same allergens as the rest of the tree nut family. Their classification is ambiguous though, and countries classify them differently: in the U.S. they must be included in the food allergy labels list, but not in the U.K., or Canada, or Australia.

When not in season, you can buy roasted chestnuts in a jar or vacuum packed: a great and easy substitute to fresh chestnuts, available all year round.


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For 4 Servings

1 cup Carnaroli rice
1 medium onion, chopped
2-3 tablespoons of EV Olive Oil
½ glass of white table wine
1 pint chicken stock preprepared (or vegetable stock)
1 cup rinsed blueberries
1 cup roasted chestnuts or more, chopped in big pieces
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons gorgonzola cheese (optional)