Everybody knows, a turkey and some mistletoe……will help to make the season bright…
…but this isn’t a turkey recipe. Actually, we’re going meatless today, I hope that’s cool with you guys. I’m pretty sure with it being the week of Christmas there will be a lot of meat involved later on. Wow, CHRISTMAS WEEK! Do you realize we’re now close enough to realistically start counting down in hours and minutes! There are so many things I want to get done in the next few days and, even though I know it is physically impossible to finish my list, I can still try right? So excited!
So for those of you just joining in, I should mention that I’m doing recipes inspired by Christmas songs this week. Yesterday was Winter Wonderland with my little snowflake cakes and today it’s The Christmas Song. You know, like “Chestnuts roasting on an oped fire….. Jack Frost nipping at your nose….”. Some people call it the chestnut song also.
I’ve always loved this song but now it has extra meaning because it’s the song that was playing when Josh proposed to Liv at Christmas time so it always makes me think of them and their (almost sickeningly…[just kidding]) sweet love story. They kind of got to grow up together and then both marry their first love. So perfect! Now they have Ryder and this is going to be his first Christmas! He’s just getting to the age where he wants to go everywhere and the presents under the tree are such a huge temptation for the poor kid, it’s been taking a lot of extra effort to keep him away from them.
So I had every intention of actually roasting these over an open fire, but it’s been so rainy that I had to settle for oven-roasted instead. Still good though. Chestnuts remind me of when I first moved to Chile and was still adjusting to the major changes. I remember seeing the pokey green pods falling from a tree in my backyard and having no clue what they were. I called them “spiky acorns of death”
That was when we lived in a different area. Now I don’t know of any trees close enough to pick nuts. I feel I should give an honorable mention to my good friends Carlos and Nora for sharing these chestnuts from their trees. The funny thing is that Nora gave them to me months ago and I had to freeze them in order to have them for Christmas. You see, they aren’t actually in season until around April (because that’s autumn time for the southern hemisphere) so when I got them I knew I wanted to save them for exactly this purpose. Now do you get why I’m always planning ahead?
I’m so glad I did that because it made the perfect addition to these cottage pies. My mom and sisters were the only ones in my family who enjoyed these, but they loved them! They said it was like everything they love about a classic holiday dinner in one dish. I added white beans in place of meat for some protein and I even through in some apples for that extra holiday touch.
You can make these individually like I did or feel free to do it all in a casserole dish if that’s easier. Also, if you can’t seem to find chestnuts you can replace them with potatoes. I know, weird right?, but if you’ve ever tasted chestnuts you’ll know that’s what they resemble, taters. You could throw in some pecans or walnuts to get that nuttiness and add crunch too. <-Actually, do this anyway it sounds really good!
……and though it’s been said, many times, many ways……MERRY CHRISTMAS to you! Have a great holiday guys!
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 red onion, diced
- 4 cloves, garlic, minced
- 1/2 head cauliflower florets, roughly chopped
- 1 green apples, peeled, cored, and diced
- 2 cups portabello mushrooms, sliced
- 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon dried sage
- 1 1/2 cup roasted and shelled chestnuts, roughly chopped
- 1 1/2 cups cooked white beans (or a preferred bean)
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1 cup vegetable stock (or chicken if not vegetarian)
- salt and pepper to taste
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch + 2 tablespoons cold water
- 3 eggs
- 3 large or 6 small sweet potatoes, cooked & peeled
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 3 tablespoons butter
- Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat and add garlic, onion, cauliflower, and apples. Cook for 5 to 6 minutes until the apples start to soften, then add mushrooms and herbs and cook 1 or 2 minutes more until mushrooms start to darken. Add in chestnuts, beans, cream, and stock and stir over heat until mixture starts to boil.
- Reduce heat to medium low and whisk cornstarch and water in a small bowl until completely smooth. Pour into pan while stirring and continue stirring until mixture thickens. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 C) and grease 6 ramekins or a casserole dish (such as a 13x9) with a light coat of oil. Place on a foil or parchment lined tray to catch any sauce that drip out while baking.
- Combine the ingredients for topping in a food processor or or blender and pulse until completely smooth (alternatively you can use a potato masher and do it by hand). Use a 1 cup measuring cup to divide the filling mixture into ramekins followed by about 1/2 cup of the sweet potato mixture. Gently spread the sweet potatoes on top with a spoon or spatula to smooth.
- Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until tops begin to brown and sauce is bubbling hot.
- Remove and cool for at least 5 minutes before serving.