Fresh Pasta/ Vegetarian Pasta

Trofie Pasta with Homemade Basil Pesto

February 17, 2018 (Last Updated: February 6, 2021)

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Total time to make this recipe: 1 hour 10 minutes

The best basil Pesto made from scratch pairs perfectly with this handmade pasta shape called Trofie. The pasta requires some time to make but the pesto is ready in just a few minutes! So try this recipe whenever you want to eat fresh delicious Pesto sauce with your pasta.

Growing up with a grandmother that didn’t really know how to cook (I know it’s weird, but not all Italian grandmas are good cooks), we were eating mainly the same things over and over again. The 5 years I was in high school, I used to come home around 2 PM really hungry and every single day I would find on the table the same damn thing: Pasta with Pesto.

But I never complained. The few times my friends came to my house for lunch they were making fun of the fixed menu and – knowing my attitude towards monotony – asking me how I could stand it. Well, I could. I loved it every single day and I still do.

It will be one of the unsolved mysteries of my life. I still don’t know why but I deeply and profoundly love the taste of Pesto together with Pasta, especially Trofie al Pesto. Like a happily married couple, always in perfect harmony. 

Of course, the Pesto I grew up with was store bought, never handmade. But still, it was perfect.

You can really taste the difference between homemade and store-bought. But I’m not ashamed to say that some good brands make a good jarred Pesto too.

plate of trofie pasta with pesto
hand holding basil leaves

The Tradition of Basil Pesto

Pesto in not from Tuscany – where I come from – but from Liguria, our neighbor region.

Unlike most regional food in Italy, Pesto is well known and appreciated throughout the whole Country. And, of course, worldwide (even though around the world is often misused, but I won’t go in that argument).

Traditionally, Pesto is made with mortar and pestle (from which the name is derived). In our modern and frantic age, however, it is more commonly made with a food processor. The ingredients are always the same: Basil, Salt, Pine Nuts, Parmigiano, Olive oil and Garlic. Only the latter is optional, for the people who hate garlic. 

The traditional Pasta that goes perfectly with Pesto is Trofie. And another version of the classic Trofie al Pesto is with the addition of boiled potatoes and green beans (it doesn’t sound right but it’s really really delicious!).

basil leaves and pine nuts in a blender
basil pesto being made in a blender
plate of trofie pasta with pesto

How to make Trofie Pasta

Trofie Pasta is one of the most difficult pasta shapes to make by hand (at least for me). I’m still far far away from perfection. But it still tastes and looks good, so it’s good enough for now. 

To make Trofie, take a tiny bit of pasta dough and roll it with your hands to make it about 3-4 cm (1.5 in). Then place it on the cutting board (preferably a wooden one) and with the side of the hand, roll it sliding from side to side so the pasta will twist. If with the hand it’s too difficult, you can try to do the same movement with a butter knife or with a pasta scraper. (Below video should help you understand the exact movement to make Trofie).

Check out also this extensive guide with step-by-step videos on how to make 10 different shapes of fresh pasta without a pasta machine.

plate of trofie pasta with pesto

 The Recipe

If you like this recipe try also these other recipes with handmade pasta:

Trofie al Pesto

Handmade trofie pasta and flavorful pesto made from scratch, just like the traditional recipe from Liguria.
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings: 2 people
Author: Jessica – Cooking my Dreams


For the Pasta

  • 1 cup Semolina Flour
  • a pinch of Salt
  • 1/2 tbsp Olive Oil
  • Water

For the Pesto

  • 0.9 oz Basil leaves
  • 1/2 tbsp Pine nuts
  • 1 – 2 tbsp Parmigiano Reggiano
  • 1/2 Garlic clove
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Salt


Make the Pasta

  • First make the pasta dough adding the pinch of salt to the semolina flour, then slowly add water until the dough becomes slightly sticky. Add the olive oil and keep kneading the dough. If it’s too sticky add some more flour, if it’s falling apart, add some more water. When you have a soft smooth ball of dough, cover in plastic foil and set in the fridge to rest for about 10 minutes.
  • To make the Trofie, dust a wooden or marble board with semolina flour and knead the pasta until it doesn't stick anymore to the board. Cut it in small chunks of the same thickness then roll them into thin strips then make the Trofie shape by rolling it with your hand or with a butter knife (see post above for more details). Set them aside on a clean towel to rest.

Make the Pesto

  • While the pasta rests, you can make the Pesto. If you’re using pestle and mortar, start by crushing the garlic, then add the basil and grind until the leaves are completely crushed. Add the pine nuts and cheese and then continue grinding while adding the olive oil little by little until you get the right consistency.
  • If you're using a food processor, add all the ingredients together and give it a couple of pulses, then start adding the oil little by little in a thin stream and keep blending until it becomes creamy and lighter in color.
  • Adjust with salt and add more cheese or pine nuts to your taste.
  • NOTE: You shouldn’t blend more than a couple of minutes, otherwise the pesto will heat up and the basil leaves will oxidize.
  • Cook the pasta in salted boiling water for 3-4 minutes and serve immediately with the Pesto (the Pesto doesn’t need any additional cooking).


You can keep your fresh pesto sauce in a glass jar in the fridge for about a week. To prevent oxidation, add a layer of olive oil on top of the pesto before closing the lid.


Calories: 383 kcal | Carbohydrates: 62 g | Protein: 14 g | Fat: 8 g | Saturated Fat: 2 g

Nutritional information is only an estimate. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: handmade pasta, italian food, italian recipe, pesto pasta, traditional
Have you tried this recipe?Snap a photo and tag @jess.cookingmydreams or use the hashtag #cookingmydreams!

If you like this recipe, you can leave a comment and a star rating to support me. ★★★★★
Thank you so much!

Have you ever made pesto? Let me know in a comment below! 

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  • Reply
    July 2, 2018 at 3:38 pm

    Oh I am so glad I found your blog! It’s nice to know someone else enjoys making their own pasta too. I love it, very therapeutic. I was curious if you have ever made your dough ahead of time, or dried out your pasta shapes to use later? When I make pasta I usually want to make a lot, but am concerned that they won’t do well after being refrigerated or frozen. Have you tried this? Thank you!
    Also I do often make my own pesto…when my basil plant can spare most of its leaves. 🙂

    • Reply
      Jessica - Cooking my Dreams
      July 2, 2018 at 4:04 pm

      Hi Laura, thank you! It’s so nice to hear about another pasta lover! 🙂 I often made too much pasta and froze it. Just spread it on a lined tray (so they don’t stick to each other) and freeze it for a couple of hours. Then you can transfer it in a freezer bag. When you want to cook it, just toss it in boiling water and boil for 3-4 minutes. Enjoy your pasta!

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