There are more and more promoters of healthy food, based on what nature gives us in a sustainable way. The ancient civilizations knew it and today we have to listen to them. I invite you to a mystical trip to the ancient native forest of the Conguillío National Park, where araucarias grow with their rich pine nuts; the sacred fruit of the Mapuches.
The Conguillío National Park is a treasure of nature located in the Region of Araucanía. You can easily get there from regional capital Temuco. From there, a 150 km ride awaits. The king of the park is the Llaima, a monumental volcano, which sometimes murmurs puffs of smoke, surrounded by numerous crystalline lagoons and lakes.
Several paths of different distances and levels of difficulty wait for tourists at the park, where interweaves an ancient millenary vegetation and vestiges of dinosaurs. It is best to arrive during spring and summer. Remember that because of the height and proximity to the peaks and their eternal ice, the temperature can be very low. Do not forget to bring a good jacket.
The name of this park comes from the word “Ko-nqilliu”, which means “pine nuts in the water” or “between pine nuts” in the Mapudungun language. In a landscape of pure and immortal beauty, where there are abundant ñirres, coihues and raulíes, the araucarias occupy a leading place. It is an endemic species called araucaria araucana, but also has a symbolic dimension. For the Mapuche people (called Araucanians by the Spaniards) these pine trees protected the stones and water eyes and its fruit was the essence of their diet. For them, the piñones or ngüilliu is sacred.
It’s better to dry the pinions before consuming. They have a soft and pleasant taste. The latest researches show that they have many nutritional values. This type of pine nut is a source of proteins, lipids, carbohydrates and amino acids. It has a high concentration of starch and dietary fiber that helps the digestive system and the prevention of intestinal and cardiac diseases. The araucaria resin, moreover, was used within Mapuche medicine as a remedy for ulcers.
In the last decade the chefs have rediscovered the qualities of the pine nuts, both for their taste and for their historical and cultural value; and today they are giving it a number of uses in haute cuisine. From Chilean pine nuts you can obtain a starch as good as corn and potatoes. An oil containing 90% of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids can also be made, which is very important in reducing the amount of calories consumed and preventing cardiovascular problems.
Because of its soft texture and rather neutral flavor, in terms of pairing we must pay attention to the other ingredients of the dishes and cooking methods. The pine nuts can be prepared sautéed in oil, as an original snack. In this case I recommend you a glass of Casillero del Diablo Sauvignon Blanc. But if we add a pinch of sea salt and merquén to the same pine nuts, I suggest uncorking Casillero del Diablo Pinot Grigio. The exquisite acidity of this wine makes a good counterpoint to the spice of the merquén. You can also create a very tasty and healthy vegetarian dish, adding vegetables such as zucchini, paprika or eggplant and sauté everything in a wok. To finish this beautiful pairing you just need the freshness and texture of Casillero del Diablo Rosé.
The pine nuts can accompany different types of meat. Sautéed, processed with milk or cream and seasoned with herbs, may be the perfect sauce for a roast beef. Although red meat is usually served with a Cabernet Sauvignon, the dish is rather mild thanks to the influence of the creamy pine nut sauce. That’s why I recommend a red wine of medium body and good texture as Casillero del Diablo Carmenere.
Now, if you prepare a pine nut puree, you have much of the recipe advanced already. Thanks to their creaminess and texture it can replace carbohydrates and sauce. Serve it, for example, with a roasted turkey. I recommend a white wine with a cozy creaminess and rich fruity notes such as Casillero del Diablo Viognier.
The pine nuts can be part of some other meat dishes, such as an Arabic recipe called Pilaw, with rice, chunks of lamb, vegetables and nuts. In this case, I invite you to uncork Casillero del Diablo Shiraz. On the other hand, mixed with lentils these pine nuts can build a bed for a grilled salmon and accompany this exquisite dish with a fresh and complex Casillero del Diablo Chardonnay.
Today I want to introduce a type of terrine / vegetarian bread that can be served cold with salad or hot with a rich sauce. It is a vegetarian but extremely tasty and nutritious dish. It gathers several Chilean flavors, among them the pine nuts. Accompanied with a glass of Casillero del Diablo Devil’s Collection Brut we lit the spark to start the celebration.
Ingredients for 4 people
- Butter for greasing and frying
- 2 tablespoons of oil
- 1 chopped onion
- 4 chopped garlic cloves
- 4 teaspoon of dried herbs: rosemary, oregano, thyme and cumin
- A pinch of merquén
- 200g of mushrooms, roughly chopped
- 200 g of nuts and piñones (pine nuts)
- 100 gr of cooked quinoa
- 200 g of cooked lentils
- 75 g of soft breadcrumbs, extra to garnish
- 100 g of dried apricots, chopped
- 2 large eggs, beaten
- 1 tablespoon of soy sauce
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- In a frying pan heat the oil. Add onion and garlic and fry.
- Add the cumin and allow the onion to turn transparent and lightly browned.
- Add the mushrooms and fry for another 4 minutes. Reserve it.
- When the onion mix is cooler put it in a processor.
- Add the cooked lentils and quinoa. Process it to a homogeneous mass.
- Add the breadcrumbs, remaining herbs and merquén, eggs, soy sauce and beat for a couple of minutes. Season it with salt and black pepper.
- To this mass add the crushed nuts, thepine nuts and the chopped dried apricots. Mix with a wooden spoon.
- Grease a cake pan and sprinkle the remaining breadcrumbs. Pour the dough into the mold (must occupy ¾ of the space of its form).
- Bake for about 40-45 minutes at a temperature of 180 °C. Then allow to cool overnight in the mold and serve cold or lightly heated in an iron or oven.