I had to make the executive decision (as CEO of the kitchen here at the home place) to skip over the scallops with caramel-orange sauce that were the actual French Fridays with Dorie recipe for this week because I knew that I'd be the only one willing to eat them and fresh scallops are too expensive just for a private little lunch dish for me, so I backtracked two weeks to make the Beggar's Linguine on pages 370 and 371 of the Around My French Table cookbook by Dorie Greenspan.
This recipe is a real oddball, which is not something you immediately sense when you read the title. Because what could be more innocent and bland than linguine, pictured there above in the strainer in my kitchen sink? Well, you're about to find out, my dears.
Beggar's Linguine is a really simple, peasanty sort of food. So simple and peasanty, in fact, that my immediate reaction upon reading the recipe was "Oh, HELLS to the no." Because the sauce that covers the pasta is as buttery and rich as could possibly be desired, but the flavors that mingle in all that butter are as follows: Mission figs. Pistachios. Raisins. Almonds. Orange zest. All of which you can see in the picture above, sitting there on my cutting board and waiting to be stirred into the melted, foaming butter on the stove.
Okaaaay. So is this a main course or some weird little dessert featuring noodles? I was confused and had a moment of wondering if Dorie was TOYING WITH US ALL. I mean, last week it was those sweet/salty cook....er, crackers? Who knows what they were, other than good? And now she's asking me to make a pasta dish with dried fruit and nuts?
Kayte offered reassurance -- she said she liked it and would definitely make it again, so I put my head down and forged onward.
Honestly, this picture doesn't do the Beggar's Linguine justice. I tried to make all the fruit and nuts come to the top of the bowl, but I kept spilling heavily buttered linguine onto the counter, so I gave it up and hoped for the best with some parsley and the orange zest. It really is an attractive-looking dish.
The girls and I ate it for lunch yesterday and agreed that there were things we did like about it -- the butter, the parmesan, the linguine, the pistachios -- and there were things we didn't like, namely, the figs. Aisling thought the figs were too sweet, Meelyn thought they were too chewy. I thought they were all right and I didn't hate them.
We also felt that it was hard to eat. You want to twirl that linguine on your fork, but then you can't get all those small pieces of fig, almond, pistachio and raisin on there too. It was a dish that made you work for your meal, so maybe you....wouldn't be a beggar anymore and could move on to something more upscale, like a nice vodka sauce?
This was a good recipe and I'm really glad we tried it. The girls said it wasn't something they'd ever request again, but they thought it was interesting and a fun lunch. Would I make it again? Well, I think yes, on the whole. For one thing, it's a meatless meal that would be a good lunch on Fridays during Lent. For another thing, it's totally different than everything else we eat, which, to be honest, runs a lot to tacos and chili in a never-ending cycle: sometimes even the Meal Matrix can't save you from yourself. So I'm thinking that this week was also a success. Thank you, Dorie!
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