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Beggar’s Linguine

March 11, 2011

Beggar’s Linguine is SoupAddict’s most recent life lesson on the value of listening to your superiors. I always assumed that the life lessons to be learned would decrease as you get older (and, presumably, wiser), but that hasn’t been the case. The Universe just keeps packin’ ’em on.

Of course, the prerequisite life lesson here is to identify who your superiors actually are. Sandra Lee and her canned frosting “chocolate truffles” (follow link at your own risk [shudder])?

Not SoupAddict’s superior.

Dorie Greenspan?

Most definitely.

So, flashback to February, when the “French Fridays with Dorie” group received our schedule of March recipes. Beggar’s Linguine. Hmm. I flipped open the book to the recipe and scanned the ingredients … and pulled a muscle doing the most exaggerated eyeroll ever. A total bitchin’ rock star eyeroll from Mars, you could say.

Dried fruit, nuts, orange zest, cheese … on pasta? Am I reading this right? Fruit and nuts and pasta, sans sauce? Oh, dear. I really wanted to not like this dish.

I think it was the raisins that did me in. Not. a. fan. Raisins and pasta. I really wanted to hate this dish.

There was no way I was going to serve it for a meal to, like, people I knew, so, I made a quick lunch of it, substituting dried cranberries for the dreaded raisins. I melted the enormous amount of a butter in a small pan, and dumped in the dried fruit and nuts. Fruit and nuts on pasta, no sauce — crikey!
But when SoupAddict lobs a big ole “Pffft!” into the Universe, the Universe almost always responds with, “Here, SoupAddict, go ahead and have a slice of this here Humble Pie. You look like you could use it.”
Yup, that’s right. The Universe put the smackdown on SoupAddict. Again. What happened was, the butter began to brown. And the heady hazelnut aroma of browned butter mixed with the nuts and cranberries and figs … and suddenly it all made sense. I hurriedly dumped the pasta onto a plate and poured on the brown butter mixture. A little orange zest, a little Parmesan cheese. O. M. G.
I was still thinking about this dish the next day when I woke up, which doesn’t happen often, because I’m always planning what’s next.

Just for the record, SoupAddict rejected the Humble Pie because it would’ve taken up too much room in her tummy. There’s beggar’s linguine to be eaten, people.

P.S.: Initially I had assumed that the word “beggar’s” in the title meant it was an inexpensive dish to pull together. In hindsight, I’m certain that it means that, once tried, you’ll beg for this dish again and again.

Beggar’s Linguine

from and Around My French Table
Makes 6 to 8 starter servings or 4 main-course servings
1 box (14 to 16 ounces) linguine
1 1/2 sticks (6 ounces) unsalted butter
1/3 cup shelled pistachios, coarsely chopped
1/3 cup almonds, coarsely chopped
8 plump dried mission figs or 3 dried kadota figs, finely diced
1/4 cup plump, moist raisins (golden raisins are nice here)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan (more or less to taste)
Grated zest of 1/2 orange (or more to taste)
Minced chives and/or parsley leaves, for serving (optional)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Cook the linguine according to the package directions. When the pasta is cooked, drain it well, but don’t rinse it.

About 5 minutes before the pasta is ready, melt the butter over medium heat in a large high-sided skillet or casserole. (You’re going to add the pasta to this pan, so make sure it’s large enough.) When the butter is melted, hot and golden, stir in the nuts, figs and raisins. Allow the butter to bubble and boil – you want it to cook to a lovely light brown, or to turn into pan beurre noisette, butter with the color and fragrance of hazelnuts – and when it’s reached just the color you want, add the pasta to the pan. Stir the pasta around in the butter to coat it evenly and to tangle it up with the bits of fruit and nuts.

Turn the pasta into a warm serving bowl, add the grated cheese and season with salt and a generous amount of black pepper. Toss and turn the pasta to incorporate the cheese, then dust the top of the mound with orange zest and chives and/or parsley, if you’re using them.
Serving: Bring the pasta to the table and, just before you’re ready to dish out the first serving, give it one more toss to mix in the zest and herbs. The pasta is so good – and so surprising – that it should be served on its own as its own course, whether first, middle (as the Italians would have it) or main.

Storing: This is not a dish that can be reheated and it’s not a pasta that can be served cold, so eat up!

Fellow FFWDers: Yes, I know it’s against the rules to post the recipe. But this recipe has been on Dorie’s very own site since January, so I figure it’s okay.

This post is participating in French Fridays with Dorie, a blogging project where we cook our way each week through the recipes in Dorie Greenspan’s new cookbook, Around My French Table. Given the book’s newborn status, we’ve been requested to not post the recipe (although SoupAddict will post it if she finds it elsewhere on the web). SoupAddict hopes that you’ll understand and will perhaps be inspired to either buy the book or seek out a recipe of a similar nature to try on your own. Or better yet, join us on French Fridays with Dorie!

  1. March 11, 2011 8:07 am

    Oh – you have captured my reaction to this recipe when I read through it. I was very surprised by how much I enjoyed it – when will I learn to just “trust Dorie”?
    However, the frosting truffles surely can not be as horrid as the cake balls or the Hannukah cake… Just sayin’

    • SoupAddict permalink
      March 11, 2011 12:57 pm

      When I was searching for Alton Brown’s chocolate truffle recipe on FN over the holidays, the frosting truffles came up in the search results. Adding sugar to canned frosting is just wrong, no matter what you’re going to do with it. 😉

  2. March 11, 2011 10:48 am

    Ew, you know I admire Dorie and her recipes, but raisins and pasta… I think it’s like asking too much of an Italian pasta lover, IMveryHO 😉

    But I want to believe, and I’ll give this a try. What really puts me off is the fruit’s’ sweet taste paired with pasta – sweet on pasta is one of the very few food taboos that haven’t been broken yet here. I guess I will need tons of parmigiano to get over it. But I will try it, and get back to you asap.

    (I guess this dish’s name come from “les mendiants” (the beggars) which is a very French way to call a mix of dried fruit and nuts 🙂

    • SoupAddict permalink
      March 11, 2011 1:01 pm

      Oh, I totally hear you, Marcella. I struggled with the thought of this recipe all week long before finally doing a small batch for lunch. I think the browned butter forms a flavor bridge between the starchy pasta and the sweet dried fruit. No one was more stunned than I that the dish actually worked!

      And you’re right about the dish’s name, which is also the name of some kind of dessert with dried fruits, nuts and chocolate (according to the story in the cookbook).

  3. March 11, 2011 11:04 am

    Well my dear, your version here makes me rethink my tocleverformyowngood approach. Looks great and I might pull out a lunch of it this weekend. You know… because I can’t actually serve this to people I know. (thanks the laugh at that line!)

    • SoupAddict permalink
      March 11, 2011 1:03 pm

      Heh heh – I could barely serve it to myself, much less trying to explain to the peeps that dried fruit will make sense with pasta. Americans just aren’t built to think of dried fruit and pasta together (although, the thought occurred to me this morning, reading everyone’s very similar reactions, that it really isn’t much different than adding raisins to bread – pasta, bread, it’s all just flour).

      • March 11, 2011 2:08 pm

        I have to agree with your comment on this being just like adding the nuts and fruits to another starch. I thought of breakfast/brunch automatically. Now that would be quite the brunch pasta buffet: gets your eggs, bacon and cheese at the Carbonara station and the fruits and nuts at the Beggar’s.

      • March 11, 2011 3:57 pm

        you’re right, after all I love raisins with rice and cardamom paired with a good curry. Indeed I stopped to think about this before leaving my first comment, and my conclusion was that rice (like flour in itself) is so much more versatile than pasta, at least according to Italian taste palette: I mean, I adore a pie filled with rice cooked in milk and pastry cream, but would never ever dream to use pasta in a dessert. But hey, I may change my mind 🙂

  4. March 11, 2011 11:27 am

    I added this book to my shopping cart on Amazon in the hopes of getting it asap. I think I would have felt the same way as you upon seeing the ingredient list: completely dubious. But now I’m a believer. Thanks for convincing me that I need another cookbook. =) When my husband questions my “need” I’ll just blame it on you.

    • SoupAddict permalink
      March 11, 2011 1:08 pm

      I’m glad I can be helpful with something (even if it involves being at the end of a pointed finger). I think you’ll really enjoy the book. It serves many purposes – a reference book to learn to make a quick sauce, or, breaking out of the recipe rut (which I get into a lot). Even aside from being a part of FFWD, it’s one of the three cookbooks I instinctively reach for when looking something up.

  5. March 11, 2011 12:18 pm

    Beautiful process photos. I almost didn’t make it myself… seeing as how both my mom and I made the ‘yuck’ face when we first read the recipe. So glad I gave it a shot, though. It was out of this world. 🙂

    • SoupAddict permalink
      March 11, 2011 1:17 pm

      The recipe was surprising in a number of ways – I would never have expected to find a recipe like this (i.e., something that sounds, well, gross) in Dorie’s cookbook, and then, I didn’t expect to like it so much!

  6. March 11, 2011 12:44 pm

    I love your photos, especially the one with the cranberries and figs. They look like jewels spilling out.

    I was expecting to hate this one too, but loved it!

    • SoupAddict permalink
      March 11, 2011 1:18 pm

      Thanks! It was very surprising – it had to have been the browned butter that made it work. I can’t imagine, say, olive oil having the same result.

  7. Candy permalink
    March 11, 2011 1:07 pm

    Your pictures look gorgeous, your story is funny…. I’m so glad you liked this.
    If I hadn’t had my own encounter with this recipe, I’d be putting it together now!

    • SoupAddict permalink
      March 11, 2011 1:23 pm

      Thanks! I especially like how quickly it comes together. I might not have all the ingredients on hand all the time, but it’s a lovely little dish for a quick meal.

  8. March 11, 2011 1:49 pm

    Great pictures–you always have the most amazing closeups! I felt the same way, and can’t wait to make this one again!

  9. March 11, 2011 2:07 pm

    Your photos are droolworthy! 🙂 I did the same thing you did – made a small portion just for me so I could take pictures and not feel guilty about throwing it out but it turns out that I loved it! I can’t wait to make it again!

  10. March 11, 2011 2:10 pm

    Love the pictures and the story of your ‘struggle’ with the pasta. I also thought the ‘beggar’s’ part had to do something with the pantry/inexpensive ingredients but got schooled on mediants in the process.

  11. March 11, 2011 2:22 pm

    Your photos are wonderful! In the story about this dish, I love how Dorie mentioned how expensive pistachios have become. I think another take on the name is that you’ll have to be a beggar later in the week, after you spend all of your grocery money on the nuts for this dish!

  12. March 11, 2011 2:46 pm

    What a lovely post! I was skeptical, too – yay for us for trying it anyway & being pleasantly surprised!

  13. March 11, 2011 3:26 pm

    Your dish looks so colorful with the cranberries! If I had been happier with my own end result, I would try this again with cranberries. But, I’ll probably just stick to brown buttered pasta with nuts. Great post!

  14. March 11, 2011 4:30 pm

    Don’t you just love those lessons the universe decides to put in front of us?
    Your writing makes me feel like I’m right there with you and your photos are so incredibly crisp and vibrant!
    An absolute pleasure to look at and read!

  15. March 11, 2011 4:30 pm

    Hi there – love the post. I’m new just last week to FFwDorie and once again, I am late making the dish. Trying to stay psyched up to cook it tonight. But I am having such a good time reading all these posts while I eat my lunch. I, too, am skeptical. My hubby is not a sweet for dinner kind of guy. But this recipe is just too intriguing not to give it a go. Love the cranberry sub. Good color, good flavor, I bet.

  16. March 11, 2011 4:47 pm

    Emjoyed your post & BEAUTIFUL photos!!

  17. March 11, 2011 4:52 pm

    Loved reading your musings…LOL about Sandra Lee…

    Beautiful photos…I was pleasantly surprised, too~

  18. March 11, 2011 8:22 pm

    I am glad you were able to do it. I started to get ready to cook it and my men folk said “what? fruit and nuts on pasta. Um no” So I skipped out on it. Might have to try it this summer and not tell them. Your pictures make it looks beautiful and more than I expected it to be. Can’t wait to try it now.

  19. March 11, 2011 8:40 pm

    I wonder why the name beggar…you’re probably right….try it and you’re begging for more. Wasn’t this a lovely surprise?

  20. March 11, 2011 9:10 pm

    I was hesitant to try this one, but it was better than I expected. I also made a single serving. Have you tried golden raisins? I don’t like regular ones, but I like the golden ones. Your photos are fabulous.

  21. Earnie permalink
    March 11, 2011 9:11 pm

    The lighting in your photographs is beautiful and they sharp and crisp. Great.

  22. March 12, 2011 11:15 am

    Agree a hundred percent about the Sandra Lee canned frosting “truffles”. Ew. Where in the world did she come from anyway? BTW, your little bowl of beggars stuff is just adorable and that saute pan–who wouldn’t want to eat that?!

  23. Anne-Marie permalink
    March 12, 2011 12:31 pm

    Congrats on a beautiful recipe! Your photos are stunning, as usual. BTW, I made your powerhouse oatmeal this week. It’s da bomb! I love it! Thanks for sharing!

  24. Darlynne permalink
    March 12, 2011 7:12 pm

    SoupAddict, this was awesome, beyond awesome. As someone who doesn’t care for tomato sauce, a butter-fruit-nuts mixture is right up my alley. I used Trader Joe’s dried tart cherries, pomegranate seeds and cranberries along with the figs because I have family that won’t eat raisins when cooked in something (I know, I know) and thought this was one of the best meals I’ve ever made. Mindful of your proviso against leftovers, etc., I fixed the sauce as directed, but then tossed some of it into a bowl with my one serving of pasta and the orange zest and chives. I think the sauce should be OK to reheat and spoon over hot pasta tomorrow or all week long, if that’s what it takes. I’ll eat this stuff cold because it is THAT good. Thank you!

  25. Marissa permalink
    March 12, 2011 10:37 pm

    Question about the “Powerhouse Oatmeal” post. Where do you find your steel cut oats? Checked at the local Walmart and Smiths, and found nothing even close.

    • SoupAddict permalink
      March 12, 2011 10:53 pm

      Steel cut oats are also called Irish oats – you might find it under that name. McCann’s is a common brand. My local large chain grocery store (Kroger) sells oats in bulk (and also sells McCann’s). You can also find steel cut/Irish oatmeal at Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, Fresh Market – any natural foods store should stock it. Hope you can find some!

  26. March 13, 2011 12:10 am

    My feelings exactly. Nice post and I can’t believe that I even loved the leftovers, which were not supposed to be good.

  27. March 13, 2011 12:59 am

    I absolutely loved this recipe with the same zeal you did. I stepped outside the safe zone and was rewarded. Great post!

  28. March 13, 2011 7:14 pm

    Your photos are absolutely gorgeous! I love how pretty this dish looks with the dried cranberries. I’m going to try that next time. I really loved this pasta too and completely agree about Dorie being a superior that’s worth following! 🙂 Great post.

  29. March 15, 2011 2:46 am

    You always make me laugh! I had the same reaction as you when I read the recipe, and now my fears are assuaged:) Your photos are fantastic and I’ll have to kick my family out of the house one day just to make this pasta (non of them would have enjoyed it, and I decided not to make it:(

  30. Lissie permalink
    March 20, 2011 7:00 pm

    I just discovered you today and I am already a fan. I have forwarded your Bolognese to several people just to lure them to your site. Your photos are scrumptious – and I have no doubt the recipes are fabulous. Thank you for taking the time to put this all together!!! Lissie


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