Beggar’s Linguine

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

adapted from and Around My French Table

Yield: 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!

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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!

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