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.

Creamy spaghetti with chestnut pesto and mushrooms

Ingredients & Substitutions

Ingredients for spaghetti with chestnut pesto

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.
  • Salt.
Vegan chestnut pesto

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.

boiled chestnuts

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.

blending all ingredients

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.

cooking the pasta in salted boiling water

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.

chopped mushrooms to a pan

Stir to dissolve the pesto and turn it into a sauce. Add more pasta water if necessary.

chestnut pesto sauce

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.

spaghetti in the pan with the sauce

Portion into serving plates, sprinkle with parsley, serve and eat immediately.

serving the spaghetti with chestnut

Tips

  • 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.
Pasta with chestnut pesto eaten by a woman

Frequently asked questions

What do chestnuts taste like?

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.

Are chestnuts good for you?

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.

Are chestnuts Italian?

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.

Variations

No mushrooms

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.

Storage

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.

Similar recipes

If you love this chestnut pasta, try one of these easy pasta recipes:

spaghetti with chestnut pesto

Spaghetti with mushroom and chestnut pesto

By: Nico Pallotta
5 from 9 votes
Creamy, cheesy, and earthy pasta, perfect for fall and winter meals. We combine the mushrooms with a creamy chestnut pesto for a unique and delicious pasta dish.
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 12 minutes
Boiling chestnuts (optional): 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 17 minutes
Servings: 4 people
Course: First Course
Cuisine: Italian

Equipment

  • Blender

Ingredients

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
  • teaspoon salt
  • 1 handful flat-leaf parsley

Instructions 

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.
    boiled chestnuts
  • 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.
    blending all ingredients

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.
    Chestnut_Pesto_Step-5
  • 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.
    chopped mushrooms to a pan
  • Stir to dissolve the pesto and turn it into a sauce. Add more pasta water if necessary.
    chestnut pesto sauce
  • 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.
    spaghetti in the pan with the sauce
  • Portion into serving plates, sprinkle with some more parsley, serve and eat immediately.
    serving the spaghetti with chestnut

Video

VEGAN DINNER 008 | FALL MENU: Kale chips, Pasta with Chestnuts, Pralines, Chestnut cake

Notes

*you can either boil the chestnuts yourself, then peel them. Or you can use pre-boiled, or steamed chestnuts to speed things up.

Nutrition

Calories: 506kcal, Carbohydrates: 85g, Protein: 17g, Fat: 11g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g, Monounsaturated Fat: 7g, Potassium: 823mg, Dietary Fiber: 5g, Sugar: 5g, Vitamin A: 327IU, Vitamin B6: 1mg, Vitamin C: 21mg, Vitamin E: 3mg, Vitamin K: 20µg, Calcium: 138mg, Folate: 85µg, Iron: 3mg, Manganese: 1mg, Magnesium: 73mg, Zinc: 2mg
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Nico and Louise in the kitchen

Hi! We are Nico & Louise

Welcome to The Plant-Based School, a food blog with easy, tasty, and wholesome recipes.

Our aim is to help you and your family eat more veggies through delicious recipes with simple ingredients.

Easy right?

5 from 9 votes (9 ratings without comment)

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Recipe Rating




7 Comments

  1. 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.

    1. Hi Nancy,
      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,
      Louise

  2. 5 stars
    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?