Previous Post | Home | Next Post
January 20, 2011
There was a time in my cooking life when pistachios, while not as cheap as peanuts weren’t as expensive as gold nuggets, and in that time Michael and I ate a pistachio-pasta dish at least once a week. It was simple and good and we loved it. I’d just cook a box of spaghetti (did we call spaghetti pasta then? I don’t think so) and while it was cooking, I’d melt (a lot of) butter, toss in (a lot of) pistachio nuts (I can’t remember if I chopped them or not – I probably did) and cook until the butter melted and turned just a little brown. That was it and boy, was that delicious!
I’ve thought of that dish often over the past few years, ever since, while writing Around My French Table, I worked out the recipe for the Linguine Mendiant, or Beggar’s Linguine, that I was served at La Ferrandaise, a very good bistro around the corner from my apartment in Paris. My old-time dish and this one have three things in common: butter, pistachios and pasta. But this dish has it over my former favorite in so many ways.
Along with the pistachios, Beggar’s Linguine has almonds, raisins and dried figs, Parmesan and orange zest, too. And it has a background story. Mendiant, while it does mean ‘beggar’, is used more often these days in France to refer to a delicious chocolate candy, a disk of chocolate topped with dried fruit, nuts and sometimes candied orange peel. And while the combination of fruits and nuts no longer seems so sacred, it once was, truly, since the four fruits and nuts on a bonbon represented the four mendicant monastic orders: dried figs for the Franciscans, raisins for the Dominicans, hazelnuts for the Augustinians and almonds for the Carmelites.
I’ve seen and loved Mendiants with apricots, dried cherries and walnuts on top. And, for sure, you can use whatever fruits and nuts you’d like for this pasta.
What I think is important in this dish is the butter. While you could just melt it, toss in the fruits and nuts and call it quits – the dish is even more interesting when you lightly brown the butter. Browned butter takes on a nutty (almost hazelnutty) flavor and that extra bit of nuttiness is really nice here.
The other night when I made this dish, I didn’t have an orange at hand, but I did have a bowl of clementines, so I grabbed one and grated its zest over the dish before bringing it to the table. So nice. And just a little brighter than orange ordinaire, I think. In fact, I thought it was so nice that I brought the bowl of clementines to the table so that friends could grate more over their pasta.
Beggar’s Linguine would make a nice first course, but on a cold, snowy night, a small bowl of it seems like nothing but a tease.
From 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!
Tags: Around My French Table
, Beggar's Linguine
, La Ferrandaise
At Home in New York
Restaurants, Chefs, & Artisans
Kerrin @ MyKugelhopf
| January 20, 2011 6:38 PM
i'm not a big pasta person, but with almonds, raisins and dried figs in there, that dish has my attention. i love adding that trio to couscous and tagines, salads, veggie dishes... will have to tell the pasta cook in my house and see what he thinks ! ;)
fun to read about your first meal at la ferrandaise in the book, so perfect after you had begged for that meal before closing ! only, i don't think i'll ever look at (chocolate) mendiants the same again, didn't know about the monastic order. so now i'll either think of that ... or pasta ! =)
| January 20, 2011 7:39 PM
Oooh lala! This looks scrumptious! Can never beat simple & delcious.
| January 20, 2011 8:47 PM
I am really intrigued by this. Its like nothing I have ever seen before. Cant wait to try it. :)
| January 20, 2011 10:52 PM
Unfortunately my husband thinks he doesn't like fruit in dishes other than dessert, because this looks lovely to me. I'm very impressed with the Italians who'll regard this as a middle dish. In my house, especially weeknights, this will only be a middle dish if you count the glass of wine and the coffee afterwards as well!
| January 20, 2011 11:48 PM
I adore your recipe writing! Whenever I read what you've written, I want to cook the dish as soon as possible. Good thing I'm making chocolate mousse cake for French Fridays right now, I certainly won't starve. Thanks for another great recipe, I'm looking forward to this beggar's pasta. (It might be what beggars somewhere eat, but it sounds pretty exotic to me!)
I keep reading your tweets about Cookie Bar, and I totally wish I could come to NYC! I have friends there I want to visit anyhow, and I haven't seen a Broadway show (not even touring company casts) since 2007. (No fun!)
If money were no object, I'd have some of those cookies. In the meantime I'm just grateful for your recipes!
| January 21, 2011 3:21 AM
I'm going to try this. The dried fruit and parmesan sound so good together. Thanks, and love the book!
| January 21, 2011 4:25 AM
Pasta with walnuts and brown butter is one of my standard pantry dinners, but I feel like this could replace it. Thanks for sharing, Dorie!
| January 21, 2011 8:03 AM
Wow this is a great recipe of a flavorful spaghetti. It reminds me of my grandma's version. She used to make pasta with crumbled walnut and butter, which we enjoyed a lot. Yours sounds even better with pistachio and parmesan, fig, raisin addition. A regular spaghetti can turn into a real feast with this recipe. Thanks!
| January 21, 2011 8:29 AM
I didn't know about the monastic orders, that's interesting.
I have never tried serving pasta in brown butter but am inspired to do so by this recipe.
| January 21, 2011 11:05 AM
I was intrigued by this recipe when I saw in Around My French Table, and now I want to make it more than ever. I love pistachios, and I've found myself adding dried fruit to more savory dishes (couscous, stews, chicken, etc.)
| January 21, 2011 12:10 PM
I really wish I had known about this recipe two years ago! I was a poor student living in a dormroom in Normandie with nothing but a hotplate in the kitchen (not even a kitchen counter, microwave, oven, or fridge!), and so it was necessary to keep things simple and inexpensive. I'm looking forward to making this even now that my circumstances in the kitchen are much improved!
| January 21, 2011 4:04 PM
This dish sounds divine. Isnt it just crazy how the price of things like nuts can change SO much just because they become trendy? I love the idea of the butter and orange zest, figs and raisins. This would be a great dish to have during these hotter months here in Australia.
Thanks for the post :)
Barbara | VinoLuciStyle
| January 21, 2011 4:49 PM
I saw your photo without the recipe and was bummed...which I now see was silly since I have the book! I love how unique this is; can not wait to try it.
| January 22, 2011 3:58 PM
I love Mendiants! Thanks for the history - I had no idea about the monastic orders. And the idea of fruit and nuts in pasta is really exciting. I make a similar side dish with farro - but I love the idea of buttery noodles with rich nuts and sweet dried fruits. Yum!
| January 22, 2011 7:16 PM
I knew when I found unsalted pistachios today that if I came here I would find a way to use them. I just didn't expect it to be so easy. Thanks for the history behind the Mendiants. Food history has so many grand stories to be told around the dinner table! And now I have Monday's dinner. So in a few days I shall buy a random ingredient and come here and see what you're doing with it.
| January 23, 2011 1:38 PM
Should the pistachios be salted or unsalted?
| January 24, 2011 9:37 AM
I do a similar pasta, but use dried cranberries that havee been tossed in a bit of orange liquer and bloomed in the microwave for a few seconds and then left to soak for 10 or 15 minutes and then drained before adding them to the pasta with fine chopped pecans. A bit of butter-toasted panko gives some added flavor. Slivered/shaved Parmesan gives some cheesy texture for a finish
replied to comment from Monica
| January 24, 2011 10:52 AM
don't they, I've never had this mix of ingredients before, but can see them working together very well! cant wait to give the recipe a go
| January 25, 2011 1:53 PM
We have a milk allergy in this house and I don't want to kill my hubby, so I used olive oil. I'll save the butter version for his next business trip! It was a toss together Sunday dinner, -so, I used minimal ingredients, just pistachios, olive oil, orange rind, parmesan and linguine. Finally, since I wasn't adding almonds or fruits, I added a few drops of Fiori Di Sicilia Flavor... It was so good! We had been out all day in freezing weather with our 4 siberian huskies -so an easy meal was needed, a delicious meal was sublime. It was so very good, thank you for posting this recipe!
| January 26, 2011 8:24 AM
Miam! I love chocolate Mendiants... but perhaps the beggar's pasta is more a more justifiable dinner choice!? Sweet and savory pasta - love it.
| January 28, 2011 11:24 PM
That looks amazing!
| January 29, 2011 11:32 AM
Hello, Supper. (thanks)
Lori in PA
| January 29, 2011 4:23 PM
Hi, Dorie, I just finished a slice of the terrific apple cake from your Around My... cookbook. So simple and so homey and so good. Thanks for all your work to produce delicious food possibilities for your readers. I appreciate it, and so does my family.
| January 31, 2011 2:09 PM
I love your Beggar's Linguine!
I've made it at least six times since I bought AROUND MY FRENCH TABLE last November.
My guests have always been baffled by the combination when related to them, then totally wowed when they tasted it. They thank me for it. And now I thank you for giving it to us.
| April 12, 2011 11:33 AM
Dorie - what a refreshingly simple and unique way to prepare spaghetti! I, too, have always thought of the "mendiant" as a the French chocolate, and am thrilled at the new definition!
I am also happy to see the liberal, but delicate, use of butter. I am sad that people in the US are afraid of using good butter. It is too good!
Thanks for this - it will be made post haste at my place!
| April 12, 2011 11:45 AM
I would eat this in a heartbeat, but my husband is allergic to almonds, and does not like figs, although they may be concealed somewhat in this.
| April 29, 2011 7:44 PM
I can't wait to try this - I've never tried pasta with ground nuts in it - this Saturday evening will be delightful with this as the main entree!
Marilyn @ Lipgloss and Spandex
| May 2, 2011 9:02 PM
Great recipe! I tweaked it a little, and it was delicious. My boyfriend is a bit picky about food, but he thought it was great and went back for seconds! Thank you for a great meal.
| May 7, 2011 9:13 PM
I was married Sunday and invited friends and family over to celebrate that afternoon for champagne. I wanted simple but memorable dishes. I cooked up 4 pounds of penne pasta and tossed with olive oil, provence herbs and pistachios. It was almost as popular as my gumbo! The best part was making my future father-in-law shell four pounds of pistachios! :-)
I picked up Around My French Table with one of my gift cards -I love it!
Marilyn @ Lipgloss and Spandex
| July 10, 2011 11:59 PM
I had to post again. I've made this several times, for friends and family, since my last post, and it's such a hit! Even picky eaters love it, and it's SO EASY to make for a large group!
| November 22, 2013 4:38 AM
I hardly drop remarks, but i did some searching and wound up here BEGGAR'S LINGUINE:
Fruits, Nuts, Pasta and a Little History. And I actually
do have some questions for you if it's allright. Could it be simply me or does it seem like a few of the remarks appear like written by brain
dead visitors? :-P And, if you are writing on other social sites,
I'd like to keep up with anything new you have to post.
Could you make a list of every one of your public pages like your
Facebook page, twitter feed, or linkedin profile?
replied to comment from Terry Bandy
| November 25, 2013 9:05 PM
Terry- In addition to doriegreenspan.com, you can find my author page on Facebook under Dorie Greenspan. I also use twitter (@doriegreenspan) and instagram.
Leave a comment
I've been having a terrible problem with spam, so to help, please fill out the CAPTCHA box below. Write your comment, enter the squished words you see in the CAPTCHA box -- don't forget to separate them by a space -- and then hit 'submit'. It's annoying, I know, but hated losing your sweet comments in the spam. Thanks so much -- xoDorie
View Previous Entries