Trofie pasta from Liguria.
The best pasta for pesto!
Trofie are a short twisted traditionally fresh pasta from the north-western Italian region of Liguria. They were apparently invented in a town on the eastern Ligurian Riviera called Recco near Genova, which is also famous for focaccia. They are usually made with durum wheat flour, salt and water, but no eggs, and are small stretched and twisted pieces of pasta with pointed ends and thicker at the center.
Legend has it that the women of the region used to sit on chairs along the coast twisting the pasta pieces as they waited for their fishermen husbands to return home. I just love the idea of that! Can’t you picture it?
Any good pasta chef will tell you that your choice of pasta has to combine well with the sauce you plan to make. Not all pasta can be eaten with any type of sauce because the size, shape and texture of a pasta type interact differently with different sauces. Trofie are probably the number one choice for pesto, especially green leaf pesto such as basil or rocket because the sauce gets into the spirals, ensuring that each mouthful is truely flavourful! In fact, this pasta comes from the same region as basil pesto Genovese, the most well known of all pesto sauces.
Trofie are not, however, eaten only with pesto alone. One of the most traditional dishes includes potatoes, green beans and pesto. The pasta is boiled in the same water as the potatoes and green beans. The pesto is added just before serving. They are also eaten with tomato based sauces, creamy sauces, seafood and various vegetarian sauces.
There is also a type of this pasta made with chestnut flour that is called ‘trofie bastarde’. It tastes sweeter than the normal or white version. It is also possible to mix white and chestnut trofie to give a more delicate flavor to a dish. Today there are also other variants of trofie too, such as black ones with squid ink. However, the original recipe is the one for from Recco.
In Italy, trofie are available in both dried and fresh versions. I usually buy them fresh. However, I really want to make some by hand. In Liguria, most restaurants and many housewives make their own. All you need to make this pasta is 400g durum wheat semolina flour (‘semola di grano duro’ in Italian) or durum wheat ’00’ flour, (I’ve seen them made with both types of flour) 200ml warm water and a pinch of salt. Take a look at this video from Pasta Grannies to see how it’s done!