This pasta with chestnuts is a delicious and easy pasta dish perfect for the fall and winter seasons.
It's cosy, creamy, cheesy, earthy, and made with a few simple ingredients, including chestnuts, hazelnuts, and mushrooms.
Ingredients & Substitutions
For the chestnut pesto
- Chestnuts: you can either get raw chestnuts, boil them and peel them yourself, or you can get pre-boiled or pre-steamed chestnuts that are available in many supermarkets these days.
- Hazelnuts: are the perfect flavour match to the chestnuts. Get unsalted roasted and peeled hazelnuts for best result.
- Bread crumbs: store bought or 1 to 2 days old bread would also work here. If you don't have it, just get some fresh bread, and add the crumb in the blender to turn it into bread crumbs.
- Nutritional Yeast: to add umami and saltiness to the pesto. It goes incredibly well together with the chestnuts.
- Soy milk: it's important to get unsweetened and unflavoured soy milk.
For the pasta
- Spaghetti: best if bronze cut. You can find them next to the regular spaghetti at your supermarket.
They look dusty and rugged compared to the regular type. We prefer them as they hold the sauce better. They'll make the best pasta with chestnuts.
- Brown mushrooms: they really elevate the flavour of the chestnuts so we recommend them. The recipe would work also without them, but the are easy to find, so try to add them in.
- Parsley: a nice touch of freshness and colour to sprinkle on top of the pasta.
- Salt: we use coarse sea salt to season the pasta water, and fine sea salt to season the mushrooms and the pesto.
- Garlic: to flavour the mushrooms.
How to make pasta with chestnut pesto
Make the pesto (it can be made in advance)
You can either boil the chestnuts yourself or you can use store-bought pre-boiled, or steamed chestnuts to speed things up.
To boil the chestnuts: wash 1 cup of chestnuts, then in a large pot, put them to boil with plenty of water.
Boil for 50 minutes, then drain and peel them with a paring knife. Remove the outer shell and the thin brown skin under the outer shell. Don't worry if they break, we'll blend them in a second.
Blend all the ingredients together until you have a thick cream, almost like hummus.
You can make the cream more or less smooth based on your preference. We like it smooth but with a grainy texture. Set aside.
Note: depending on the chestnuts, you might need to add one or two tablespoons of extra soy milk to get the blender going.
TIP: Wanna succeed with the basics of vegan pesto? For a comprehensive vegan pesto tutorial, see our basil vegan pesto guide that entails cooking methods and tips to succeed.
For the pasta dish
In a large pot, bring the water to boil, then salt it with coarse sea salt and add the spaghetti.
Give it a stir. Cook as instructed on the package, minus 1 minute. Save two cups of pasta cooking water before draining the pasta.
While the pasta boils, add the oil to a non-stick pan. When the oil is warm, add the clove of garlic and chopped mushrooms.
Cook the mushrooms on medium heat for 8 minutes, season with salt, then add 4 to 5 spoonfuls of chestnut pesto and 1 cup of pasta cooking water.
Stir to dissolve the pesto and turn it into a sauce. Add more pasta water if necessary.
Now add the spaghetti to the pan and stir well. Add chopped parsley and finish cooking the pasta until creamy and al dente. If the sauce is too thick, add more pasta water.
Portion into serving plates, sprinkle with parsley, serve and eat immediately.
- Don't undercook the chestnuts: for best results, make sure your chestnuts are cooked through. The best way to be sure the chestnuts are cooked is to set a timer to 45 minutes, then take a chestnut out, cool it down under running water, peal it and taste it.
The chestnut should be very soft, and not with a bite. If not ready, boil for a further 10 minutes at a time.
- Salt the pasta water: season the pasta water with a generous amount of coarse sea salt. The pasta will taste so much better.
- Cook the pasta al dente: to make sure your pasta stays al dente, drain it 1 or 2 minutes before the actual cooking time that is recommended on the package.
Then finish cooking the pasta in a pan with the sauce, in this case the chestnut pesto, adding some pasta cooking water.
- Save the pasta cooking water: when draining the pasta, have the habit of saving at least 1 cup of pasta water. Pasta cooking water is rich of starch. If added to the sauce it will make the dish creamier.
When you jump the pasta in the pan with the sauce before serving it, always add a ladle or two of pasta water.
Frequently asked questions
Chestnuts have a sweet flavour, with earthy notes of nuts. They are very creamy and will satisfy your sweet and savoury cravings. They are an autumn and winter nut and make for great cosy pestos, creams, and snacks.
Chestnuts are super healthy! They are rich in good carbs and low in fat, filling you with sustained energy and warmth during the cold winter days. They are also rich in antioxidants and vitamin C to help you prevent runny nose and winter colds.
While chestnuts are produced in several European countries, Italy is the largest producer, and they are very popular all over the country during the colder months of the year.
If you wander the streets of Italy around Christmas you'll smell the inebriating fragrance of freshly roasted chestnuts that are being cooked on an open fire and sold on many street corners.
For a simpler version of this pasta with chestnuts, you can remove the mushrooms, and just boil some pasta and coat it with the chestnut pesto. It will still be delicious, but we do recommend using adding the mushrooms as they complement the flavour of the chestnuts perfectly.
Chestnuts pesto with gnocchi
Another great way to eat this delicious chestnut pesto is with our vegan gnocchi. Replace the spaghetti with some delicious Italian gnocchi. They are super easy to make vegan at home. If you get store-bought, make sure they are vegan, as some recipes add egg to the potato dough.
Chestnut spread on a toast
The chestnut pesto almost tastes like a chocolate-free version of Nutella. If you want to spice things up, add a couple of teaspoons of dark cacao powder to the blender when you are preparing the pesto. The result is a guilt-free hazelnut-chestnut chocolate spread that will be out of this world on some bread. Eat it for breakfast or as a mid-afternoon snack.
This pasta with chestnuts doesn't store well. Max 12 hours in an airtight container in the fridge. Reheat it in a pan on the stove with some water. The chestnut pesto can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
If you love this chestnut pasta, try one of these easy pasta recipes:
- Spaghetti aglio e olio
- Creamy mushroom pasta
- Boscaiola Pasta
- Spaghetti Cacio e Pepe
- Penne all arrabbiata
- Pasta Pomodoro
- Lemon Pasta with spinach
- Pasta in spinach pesto
- Red pepper pasta
Spaghetti with mushroom and chestnut pesto
For the chestnuts & hazelnuts pesto
- 1 cup chestnuts boiled or steamed
- 1 cup soy milk unsweetened
- ¼ cup hazelnuts
- 2 tablespoons bread crumbs
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast optional
For the pasta dish
- 11 ounces spaghetti
- 1 gallon water to cook the pasta
- 1 tablespoon coarse salt to salt the pasta water
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 9 ounces brown mushrooms
- 1 clove garlic
- ⅓ teaspoon salt
- 1 handful flat-leaf parsley
Make the pesto (it can be made in advance)
- You can either boil the chestnuts yourself or you can use store-bought pre-boiled, or steamed chestnuts to speed things up. To boil the chestnuts: wash 1 cup of chestnuts, then in a large pot, put them to boil with plenty of water.Boil for 50 minutes, then drain, and peel them with a paring knife. Remove the outer shell and the thin brown skin under the outer shell. Don't worry if they break, we'll blend them in a second.
- Blend all the ingredients together until you have a thick cream, almost like a hummus.You can make the cream more or less smooth based on your preference. We like it smooth but with a grainy texture. Set aside.Note: depending on the chestnuts, you might need to add one or two tablespoons of extra soy milk to get the blender going.
For the pasta dish
- In a large pot, bring the water to boil, then salt it with coarse sea salt and add the spaghetti. Give it a stir. Cook as instructed on the package, minus 1 minute. Save two cups of pasta cooking water before draining the pasta.
- While the pasta boils, add the oil to a non stick pan. When the oil is warm, add the clove of garlic and chopped mushrooms. Cook the mushrooms on medium heat for 8 minutes, season with salt, then add 4 to 5 spoonfuls of chestnut pesto and 1 cup of pasta cooking water.
- Stir to dissolve the pesto and turn it into a sauce. Add more pasta water if necessary.
- Add the spaghetti to the pan and stir well. Add some chopped parsley and finish cooking the pasta until creamy and al dente. If the sauce is too thick, add more pasta water.
- Portion into serving plates, sprinkle with some more parsley, serve and eat immediately.
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This was awesome. A definite keeper. I added some roasted garlic and sumac to the pesto and deglazed the mushrooms with some white wine. The only thing I question is the “spoonful” measurement. What spoon are you using to make a spoonful? I wish it were a little more specific.
I'm very happy you liked the chestnut pasta, the wonderful idea with white wine to deglaze the mushrooms!
You are absolutely right about the measurements, we need to redo and re-write this recipe as soon as we can find chestnuts again 🙂
Thanks again for your feedback and review. Kindest,
Excellent. Only change was that I used Farfalle pasta instead of spaghetti.
Does anyone use the finished sauce over other things?
Can the pesto be frozen after the blender but before making the sauce with the mushrooms and garlic?
Made this last night and it was delicious - rich and gourmet
Amazing, Katie!! I am delighted that you share my love for chestnuts 🙂
Thanks Linda! We are loving our new styling props 🙂