Pasta with Oven-Roasted Chestnuts, Pork, and Sage

I know it’s still November, but I am already getting in the mood for all the wonderful foods that come with the winter Holiday season. Cheese platters, Christmas cookies, puddings, stuff fried in goose fat… you name it. But is there any better seasonal treat than roasted chestnuts? Chestnuts’ slightly sweet flavor and creamy texture do really well in both sweet and savory dishes: think about adding them to the aforementioned cheese platters, or incorporating them into ice creams, stews, or as is the case here, pasta dishes. In this recipe, the sweet, earthy chestnuts are combined with wintery herbs, minced pork and silky ribbons of tagliatelle / fettuccine.


Chestnuts are a tasty treat you can buy from vendors in the street here in Athens around this time of the year, or you can buy them at the market and roast them over an open fire – just like in the songs! But you don’t even really need an open fire to make them (aww…) as you can simply roast them in the oven at home. I’ve written down how to do so in the recipe card below!



This recipe has been spruced up a bit since the first time I made it (read: I now roast my own chestnuts), but it was initially born out of laziness and the need to clear out some stuff I had laying around in the pantry and freezer for some weeks (sure…). We had a package of vacuum-packed chestnuts laying around since, let’s be honest, some previous holiday season, various opened packages of pasta in the back of the cupboard, and some leftover pork chops in the freezer. Pork usually goes well with fruits and other sweet ingredients so I thought, why not? And yeah, turns out the sweet chestnut chunks go really well with sage and salty, slightly fatty pork!

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You can get regular pre-ground pork for this recipe, but I believe it’s tastier with a roughly minced pork that contains some fat. I don’t like the pieces of meat to disintegrate into the sauce, as a finely ground meat would do, but I like chunky bits of meat that have a little bit of texture. When making this dish the first time, I used pork chops out of necessity, but it turned out to have the perfect consistency and lean meat to fat ratio. If you’ve got the time, get some pork chops with some fatty bits from your butcher, remove the bone and finely mince the meat with a knife, or cleaver. Chopping up the meat in a food processor works as well, but you’d have to make sure the meat doesn’t get chopped into a fine paste.



Now about the chestnuts: buy ones that have a nice dark brown color and shiny peel. Don’t buy them too many days in advance either, as I find they either dry out very quickly, or start to mold. Also: buy a bit more than needed, as you will likely find some that are not good while others might disappear into your mouth as you peel them (oops!). And yeah, to make things a bit easier on yourself you could use vacuum-packed pre-cooked chestnuts as I did the first time… but that would really take away the joy of roasting and peeling hot chestnuts, wouldn’t it?




Pasta with Oven-Roasted Chestnuts, Pork, and Sage

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In this recipe here the sweet, earthy chestnuts are combined with wintery herbs, minced pork and silky ribbons of tagliatelle / fettuccine.
  • Difficulty:Easy
  • Prep Time:25 mins
  • Cook Time:65 mins
  • Serves:4
  • Freezable:No

Nutrition per portion

  • 400g tagliatelle / fettuccine
  • 350g chestnuts, fresh and unpeeled, or about 200g vacuum-packed ones
  • 450g minced pork
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large red onion, finely diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh sage leaves + extra to serve
  • 3 sprigs of fresh rosemary, stalks removed and leaves finely chopped
  • 80g Parmesan cheese, grated + extra to serve
  • 200ml cream
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Salt to taste
To roast the chestnuts in an oven: [Skip this section if using vacuum-packed, or tinned chestnuts. Obviously.*]
  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C.
  2. Cut a cross into the skin on the round side of each chestnut.
  3. Place the chestnuts cut side up onto a baking tray and roast them in the oven until the skins start to open and the insides become a bit soft and golden. This will take about 15 - 20 minutes.
  4. Take the chestnuts out of the oven and cover them with a towel for about 15 minutes to let the steam loosen the skin. Let the chestnuts cool down a little until safe to touch, but don’t let them cool down completely as it will be harder to peel them. Peel away the hard outside, fuzz and thin skin covering the chestnuts. Set aside until needed.
  For the pasta sauce:
  1. Dice the onion and finely chop the garlic and herbs.
  2. Place a large frying pan on medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and sauté the chopped red onion until translucent. Add the chopped garlic, rosemary leaves and sage to the frying pan and sauté for 2 minutes until fragrant.
  3. Add the minced pork to the pan, generously sprinkle on salt and pepper, and fry for some minutes until slightly browned.
  4. Roughly chop up the roasted chestnuts and add to the pan. Next, pour in the cream and add the grated parmesan. Stir. Taste the sauce and add more salt and pepper if needed. Turn the heat to very low and let the sauce simmer very softly for some minutes.
  5. In the meantime, boil tagliatelle/fettuccine according to instructions on the package. Drain the pasta, but reserve about 200ml of cooking liquid.
  6. Add the pasta to the sauce in the frying pan. Stir well to cover all strands of pasta with the sauce. Add some of the reserved cooking liquid in case the sauce is too thick – the sauce should cover the strands of pasta as a glossy thin layer and the pasta shouldn’t clump together. Sprinkle on some extra chopped sage and grated Parmesan if desired and serve immediately.
*Cooking time listed includes the time to oven-roast chestnuts at home (about 30 minutes) and peeling them (about 10 minutes). Preparation time listed approximately covers the time to preheat the oven, cut the chestnuts, chop the herbs, garlic and onion, and mince the pork.

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