We are cooking from Dorie Greenspan's cookbook "Around my French Table." Our group is French Fridays with Dorie , and this week's entry is a pasta dish, whose official name is linguine mendiant, or beggar's linguine.
It reminds me of rice pilaf dishes I make, which include raisins, pine nuts, walnuts, and sometimes sausage. In this recipe the rice is replaced by pasta, and figs are also added. Butter is plentiful here (12 tablespoons!), unless of course you cut the amount down to 4 and then add about 3 tablespoons of good old fashioned olive oil, which is what I did. Gone are the days, days of me in my twenties and thirties, when such things did not concern me. Days when I thought I was indestructible.
So heat up the butter and olive oil in a large pan, add the walnuts, almonds, raisins and figs, sauté them well and pour the linguine on top. Mix well to coat it evenly and season with salt and lots of pepper. Get a nice serving platter and arrange the linguine mixture on top. Sprinkle the pasta with some orange zest, some freshly ground Parmesan cheese and some parsley. Voilà! The linguine mendiant is ready. Now comes time to taste it: Mmm. The nuts give it a very nice flavor, but it's kind of sweet. My mistake. I used too many figs because I love, love, love them.
Dorie Greenspan explains that the word mendiant, which means beggar in French, is used to describe a combination of ingredients that represent the four mendicant monastic orders: dried figs are for the Franciscans, raisins are for the Dominicans, and the nuts are for the Augustinians and Carmelites. The mendicant concoction appears in desserts, and in this recipe it's used in a savory dish. I should have added some Gorgonzola to this linguine I think. Figs and Gorgonzola make a great combination, and the cheese would have probably cut down on the sweetness of the dish. Maybe next time.