lidia's chestnut mushroom ragu

Chestnuts seem to have hightened popularity in the Mediterranean, and dr bob married into an Eastern Mediterranean Middle Eastern immigrant family which seems to share the Italian attraction for roasted chestnuts often offered for sale to nut loving pedestrians on city streets in those respective corners of the planet. Perhaps the chestnut tree blight is responsible for damping the US activity in this department, but at least seasonally and erratically, recipe ready chestnuts are made available to those of us in sympathy with this versatile food ingredient. We saw this particular recipe on Lidia's PBS TV show serendipitously, otherwise we would never have know of this successful pairing of nuts and funghi in a vegan pasta sauce. And New Years Day 2017 gave us the chance to try it out with the inlaws. For chestnut and mushroom lovers, this is a highly flavorful and quite different from the usual pasta sauce combinations. And once again confirms our humble opinion that Lidia is the rightful reigning queen of Italian cuisine in America. We liked it. Maybe you will too. It's worth the risk let's say.

We could not find a single packaged source of mixed mushrooms in our supermarket visit, so we cobbled together some shitakes, baby bellas and white mushrooms for the experiment. Fortunately we already had a 7.4 oz  jar of steamed chestnuts imported from southern Europe on hand waiting for some seasonal application.


1/4 c extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 medium shallots, finely chopped
1 1/2 lbs mixed mushrooms (button, cremini, shitake, oyster, chanterelle), thickly sliced
2 t chopped fresh thyme
1 t salt
2 T tomato paste
2 c chopped chestnuts, freshly cooked and peeled, canned, or jarred, preferably user friendly


  1.  In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat the olive oil and throw in the the garlic, then the shallots. Cook and stir until almost tender, about 2 to 3 minutes.
  2. Add the mushrooms, thyme, and salt. Cover, and cook until the mushrooms release their liquid, about 5 minutes.
  3. Uncover, and increase the heat to reduce away the liquid in the pan, cooking about 2 minutes.
  4. Make a space in the pan, and add the tomato paste. Cook and stir the paste in that spot until it toasts and darkens a shade or two, about 2 minutes, then stir into the mushrooms.
  5. Add the chestnuts and 2 cups hot water. Cover, and simmer until the chestnuts just begin to fall apart and thicken the sauce, about 15 minutes. Uncover and increase heat to reduce the sauce to your liking, if necessary.
  6. Serve as a side dish or as a pasta sauce. [We used our current favorite dry pasta: mezzi rigatoni.]


  1. Lidia's Italy: Ragu di Funghi e Castagne (mushrooms and chestnuts, in reversed order from our choice based on giving top billing to the chestnuts), remember Lidia is Italian.
  2. Haddon House imported whole chestnuts. First time we ever encountered this source.
  3. Illustrations available.
chestnutmushroomragu.htm: 11-feb-2017 [what, ME cook? � 1984 dr bob enterprises]