Mushroom, Chestnut & Thyme Couscous

Mushroom Couscous salad recipe

Lately I’ve been obsessed with couscous. I have no idea why, but suddenly I can’t get enough of it. It’s all the more strange because I’d never really eaten much couscous until one day, stuck for ideas on what to make for lunch I made a couscous salad, and now, I can’t stop eating it. So when I was sent some beautiful chestnuts last week I immediately thought I’d try them in a couscous salad along with mushrooms, silverbeet and thyme.

I’m sure we’ve all heard winter tales about chestnuts roasting on an open fire, but other than that I hadn’t had much to do with chestnuts. Chestnuts come from a deciduous tree, a member of the beech family. The chestnuts grow inside a prickly case called a burr and in autumn, when ripe, the burr splits open allowing the chestnuts to fall free, onto the ground, where they are collected. As I learned when I tried this salad, chestnuts are delicious, and being the nerd I am I couldn’t help but conduct some research to find out more about chestnuts. So, here are some interesting facts:

  • Chestnuts are relatively low in calories when compared to other nuts and seeds and contain less fat but are rich in vitamins and minerals.
  • They are exceptionally rich in vitamin-C with 100g of  chestnuts providing 43 mg of vitamin C which is 72% of the recommended daily intake.
  • The protein found in chestnuts is a high quality protein, comparable with eggs and is easily absorbed. Great news for vegetarians!
  • Chestnuts do not contain gluten and chestnut flour can be used as a gluten free alternative in baking.

Chestnuts

Don’t be frightened by chestnuts. I know I was, hearing they are difficult to peel and have a tendency to explode in the oven, but when dealt with correctly they are quite easy to handle. In order to enjoy a chestnut the outer shell and the inner inner skin, called the pellicle, must be removed. This can be achieved by scoring the nuts and placing them under a hot grill for 10 minutes or by boiling. the nuts whole for half an hour.

To make this salad simply grill the nuts and once the nuts have been grilled simply wrap them in a tea towel for 5 to 10 minutes before peeling. While the nuts are grilling prepare the salad and then chop the chestnuts roughly and scatter over the salad. Serve as a delicious healthy lunch, as I did, or as a side dish.

So tell me, have you tried chestnuts? And what is your current food obsession?

Mushroom Couscous Salad

 

4.6 from 5 reviews
Mushroom, Chestnut & Thyme Couscous Salad
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Serves 2 as a light lunch or serves 4 as a side dish.
Serves: 2
Ingredients
  • 200g of couscous
  • 250ml of hot vegetable stock
  • 200g of mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 small brown onion, peeled and sliced
  • 1 cup of silverbeet (chard) leaves shredded
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 4 chestnuts
  • 2 tsp of freshly picked thyme leaves
  • salt and pepper
Instructions
  1. Begin by preparing the chestnuts. Carefully score a cross into the flat side of the chestnuts with a sharp knife. Make sure the knife cuts through the outer shell of the chestnuts as this will help them peel back under the heat of the grill making the removal of the shell easier.
  2. Turn on the grill and place the chestnuts on a tray under the heat for 10 to 15 minutes. Keep an eye on them and you will notice the shell will start to peel back on the nuts. Don't worry if parts of them burn as this is just the outer shell.
  3. Remove the chestnuts from the heat and wrap in a clean tea towel and when cool peel, making sure to remove the outer shell and the inner pellicle. Chop and set aside.
  4. Place the vegetable stock in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Remove from the heat and place the couscous in a large bowl and pour the hot stock over the top. Stir to combine and then cover with cling film and set aside.
  5. Place a frying pan over a medium low heat and add the olive oil and onions. Sautee the onions until they begin to slightly caramelise. Add the mushrooms, season with salt and pepper, and cook for 5 minutes. Add the garlic, thyme and silverbeet, stir to combine and then remove from the heat before adding the lemon juice.
  6. Remove the cling film from the couscous and using a fork carefully fluff up the couscous. Add the mushroom mixture and along with the chestnuts and mix to combine. Adjust seasonings as necessary and serve warm or at room temperature.

 Delicieux received a box of chestnuts with thanks to Impact Communications and Chestnuts Australia.

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33 Comments

  1. Kirsty May 1, 2012  1:20 pm Reply

    My hubby introduced me to chestnuts last year - it's quite possibly the only childhood memory he has of a food tradition, roasting and peeling them with his grandpa. I've now introduced the concept to my only family and we're fast becoming big fans. I'm currently working on my own chestnut recipe :)

  2. Mary@FitandFed May 1, 2012  1:37 pm Reply

    Yes, we cook chestnuts in the fall and early winter. Once or twice a year we make it a family occasion to sit and peel the chestnuts together and use them in a stuffing. I can also sometimes buy the chestnuts peeled. Right now I have one box of self-stable peeled chestnuts in the cupboard-- not at all the same thing as fresh in this case, unfortunately. I've had a few different brands of peeled chestnuts and some are better than others. I'll have to chop up this last box and use it in a pilaf soon.

  3. Jaejaejae May 1, 2012  2:32 pm Reply

    I have never considered doing anything with chestnuts before. As thyme is one of my favourite herbs, I'm willing to give it a go! Did you score the chestnuts with a fork or something else?

    • delicieux May 1, 2012  3:35 pm Reply

      Hi Jaejaejae, yes I used a sharp knife. See step 1 of the instructions :)

    • Laura (Tutti Dolci) May 1, 2012  4:11 pm Reply

      I love couscous in salads, though I've never tried chestnuts. I'd like to though - all of the Italian cookbooks I read mention chestnuts quite frequently.

  4. Rosa May 1, 2012  4:17 pm Reply

    A gorgeous dish! So autumn-like. That combination is really original.

    Cheers,

    Rosa

  5. thelittleloaf May 1, 2012  4:47 pm Reply

    This looks lovely. I've been eating a lot of bulgur wheat recently but couscous is a firm favourite too. We're moving towards summer here so this dish feels quite wintry but I love the comforting, rich flavours. Beautiful pics as always too :-)

    • delicieux May 1, 2012  5:06 pm Reply

      I love bulgur wheat too. I think this would work well with bulgur wheat too. :D

  6. Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella May 1, 2012  5:04 pm Reply

    Jennifer, we often seem to be on the same page with food! :) I was just thinking about couscous and lamenting having run out of it! :P

  7. Choc Chip Uru May 1, 2012  6:19 pm Reply

    This is superb! I love a good couscous salad of which this is a prime example - great flavours :D

    Cheers
    Choc Chip Uru

  8. Lizzy (Good Things) May 1, 2012  6:47 pm Reply

    I love chestnuts and I like couscous. Great combination! Nice one Jennifer.



  9. Mushrooms Canada May 1, 2012  10:46 pm Reply

    Looks beautiful! I love the idea of combining the mushrooms and chestnuts, what a flavour combo!

    -Shannon

  10. Daisy@Nevertoosweet May 2, 2012  2:19 am Reply

    Very unique salad to me :) never really had couscous salad before very healthy too hehe ~



  11. Michelle K. @ Delectable Musings May 2, 2012  2:51 am Reply

    Mushrooms are one of the ingredients in season for me right now and this recipe looks like a new way for me to serve them up. I have not tried pairing mushrooms and chestnuts before, it looks very tasty. I would love for you to share this post on my Seasonal Eats Sheet blog roundup for May, found here, which highlights recipes that use seasonal ingredients in great recipes.

    • delicieux May 11, 2012  9:03 pm Reply

      Hi Michelle,

      Sure, I'm happy to be included in your Seasonal Eats Sheet :D

  12. kankana May 2, 2012  7:43 am Reply

    ever since I discovered about couscous .. it has become my goto meal for busy weeknight . I love how you can play with it and your version sounds delicious!

  13. Sarah May 2, 2012  9:15 am Reply

    Wow, I didn't know about the nutrition of chestnuts, some really interesting stuff! And of course the recipe looks divine, too... Yum!

    • delicieux May 3, 2012  10:35 am Reply

      I didn't know the nutrition information about chestnuts either. It's always interesting researching different foods and finding out more about them :D Even better when you find they are good for you! ;)

  14. Martyna @ WholesomeCook May 2, 2012  1:33 pm Reply

    What a great Autumn combination Jennifer! Chestnuts are so moreish and remind me of Paris in Fall... I'm having a similar obsession with brown rice at the moment!

  15. Liren May 2, 2012  3:23 pm Reply

    Jennifer, this is just beautiful. I love the fall flavors - and it makes me miss chestnuts so desperately! This opposite side of the hemisphere thing is torture! In a good way, of course :)

    My fondest memories are of peeling chestnuts at Christmas-time with my family. I can't wait to find some again pair it with couscous!

  16. Kulsum at JourneyKitchen May 2, 2012  4:21 pm Reply

    Jen you have the best recipes! Just yesterday I had a couscous salad with similar ingredients minus the chestnuts. I can totally see how wonderful addition it would make!

    • delicieux May 3, 2012  10:34 am Reply

      Awww thanks Kulsum :D Great minds thinks alike ;)

  17. beti May 3, 2012  12:16 pm Reply

    every single component makes my mouth water, the combination is amazing and the couscous looks perfect

  18. Sanjeeta kk May 4, 2012  3:06 am Reply

    Love chestnuts but have never used them in my cooking....this salad looks so light and refreshing!

  19. Nami | Just One Cookbook May 4, 2012  3:44 am Reply

    I'm a huge fan of chestnut but every fall I have hard time getting nice round chestnut that has good quality. Yours look perfect for cooking or eating by itself... Very nice salad. I love how you combined all the ingredients in one salad!



  20. Amy May 4, 2012  10:48 am Reply

    I've never tried chestnuts before, but I've always wanted to!
    I think this will be on the menu this weekend, but I'll replace the couscous with quinoa, I can't seem to find any GF couscous.
    My current food obsession is Dijon mustard - I can't seem to get enough of slathering it on crackers for a snack!

  21. Liz May 4, 2012  11:00 am Reply

    Your photos are just awesome...as is this couscous! What a delicious side dish that would work with SO many meals :)



 

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