Mendiant translates as beggar, but the word is actually used more often to describe a French confection composed of chocolate disks topped with nuts and dried fruits, and sometimes accented with candied orange zest.
Apparently, the chef at La Ferrandaise's, with his "very creative culinary mind," was inspired to create a savory version of mendiants, sans chocolate. He tossed pasta with browned butter, chopped almonds, pistachios, raisins, dried figs, grated Parmesan, and a pinch of orange zest.
Dorie loved this pasta when she was served it for the first time...it hit the spot when she was cold, jet-lagged and hungry. It must be tough, flying back and forth between New York and Paris, but a plate of pasta, at a cozy, rustic bistro, makes it all better.
I loved this pasta when I prepared it for the first time because I didn't have to spend too much time in the kitchen after a day of lawyering, and because I love just about anything involving pasta. The bit of sweetness from the dried fruit is nicely balanced by the nutty butter, salty Parmesan, zest and parsley.
I whipped this up a few weeks ago, before the March recipe schedule was even announced, with ingredients already on hand. I used Marcona almonds, after falling in love with them in this salad.
I should have been content, dedicating this post to Beggar's Linguine. It's not like I have too much time on my hands, and can just mosey into the kitchen at every whim. But there are exceptions, especially when chocolate cravings are involved. And in this case, I needed to experience the inspirational French confection behind Beggar's Linguine.
If you can temper chocolate, toast a few nuts, and cut up dried fruit, you can create these decadent chocolate disks in no time at all. I started small, with about 4 ounces of bittersweet chocolate. For toppings, I used variations of Marcona almonds and pistachios, dried cherries, apricots, and pears, and a few pieces of crystallized ginger. Here's a recipe, but I used David Lebovitz' method for tempering chocolate, here.
Although not a traditional mendiant, I couldn't resist drizzling a few of the disks with Bourbon Caramel Sauce, left over from our beignet weekend, and a sprinkle of Fleur de sel.
Now I'm content. I have a new pasta recipe, and a new chocolate dessert, both of which can be quickly and easily prepared.
Mendiant is a traditional French confection composed of a chocolate disk studded with nuts and dried fruits representing the four mendicant or monastic orders of the Dominicans, Augustinians, Franciscans and Carmelites. Each of the nuts and dried fruits used refer to the color of monastic robes with tradition dictating raisins for the Dominicans, hazelnut for the Augustins, dried fig for Franciscans and almond for Carmelite. Usually found during Christmas, recipes for this confection have veered away from the traditional combination of nuts and fruits to other combinations incorporating seeds, fruit peels and other items (Wikipedia).
French Fridays with Dorie is an online cooking group dedicated to Dorie Greenspan‘s newest book, Around My French Table. As members of the group, we have purchased the cookbook and cook along as much as we can. There is a new recipe each week, and we post about that recipe on Friday. We are asked to refrain from posting the actual recipes on our blog. Dorie always tells a personal story behind each recipe, which makes it that much more intriguing. Dorie has posted the recipe for Beggar's Linguine, on her own blog, here.