Making handmade Trofie Pasta is so easy and satisfying. This traditional pasta shape from Liguria is the best pasta shape to serve with homemade Basil Pesto sauce and make the classic Trofie al Pesto. It can be done with kids, too! Learn to make this traditional Italian pasta shape with this comprehensive step-by-step guide.
When people think about making fresh homemade pasta, they always think it's a long and laborious process, but it's actually quite easy and fun once you have the right recipe and follow the right steps.
For more details on fresh pasta, check out this guide on how to make 10 different pasta shapes without a pasta machine. Check out also this post on how to make Tonnarelli Pasta.
Trofie pasta is not one of the easiest pasta shapes to make, as it is Tuscan Pici Pasta. But it's super fun and incredibly satisfying once you get the movement right and get into the rhythm.
Trofie pasta, a gem among Italian culinary traditions. Trofie has been the choice of short cut pasta for many of Italy's most traditional dishes. This pasta type, known for its unique texture and shape, is typically small, with twisted pasta pieces that hold different sauces exceptionally well. The biggest surprise for many gourmets is how trofie, despite its simplicity, brings a sophisticated texture to a pasta type, enhancing the overall dining experience.
The production of trofie pasta adheres to traditional methods, a testament to the great attention to detail practiced by some of the most antique regional producers. Among these esteemed producers is Di Martino, a name synonymous with quality and tradition in the world of pasta. When paired with various vegetarian sauces, trofie transforms easy recipes into a delightful meal; whether it's the classic pesto Genovese or a creamy walnut sauce, the type of sauce chosen can elevate the dish to new heights.
What are Trofie
Trofie are a type of pasta originating from the Liguria region of Northern Italy, particularly renowned for its association with the classic Pesto alla Genovese (a sauce made with minced basil leaves, pine nuts, a clove of garlic, and Parmesan cheese). Characteristically small, thin, and twisted in shape, trofie are traditionally handmade, resulting in a textured surface ideal for holding onto sauces.
Their unique form is achieved by rolling small pieces of pasta dough on a flat surface to create tapered ends with a curled and slightly twisted body. This pasta is typically made from a simple mixture of flour and water. Trofie's versatility in pairing with various sauces, especially pesto, highlights its role in Ligurian and broader Italian cuisine, offering a delightful culinary experience that blends texture and flavor in each bite.
To make fresh Trofie pasta you only need 2 ingredients. Read below the information on each.
- Durum Wheat Semolina Flour. Fine semolina flour (Semola rimacinata) is usually used to make eggless pasta, such as Cavatelli, Trofie, or Orecchiette, all short-cut pasta that doesn't need to be stretched thin. Pici are the only exception being a long-cut pasta shape because they need both Semolina for consistency and All Purpose for flexibility.
- Olive Oil & Salt. Oil and salt are not really important to make handmade pasta and you can also skip them without majorly impacting the end result. But I like to add a tiny drizzle of oil and a pinch of salt to the dough.
- Water. Water is the only other ingredient necessary to make handmade pasta, as it turns semolina into a pliable dough.
See the recipe card for quantities.
In a large bowl, add the fine semolina flour, salt, and a drizzle of olive oil.
Mix all the ingredients and add the room temperature water a little bit at a time, until the dough comes together, then knead it with your hands into a ball.
Roll the pasta on a cutting board, then cut it into thick strips.
Roll each strip with the palms of your hands to make a long snake, then chop it into small chunks 3-4 cm (1.5 in).
Then place the pasta pieces 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.
TOP TIP: It's not necessary to rest Trofie pasta, but you can leave it to rest on a clean towel dusted with flour for a few hours or overnight. The longer you leave it to dry, the longer it will take to cook, so make sure to taste and adjust the cooking time accordingly.
What sauce to pair with Trofie pasta
Other than the classic Basil Pesto sauce, Trofie works well with pretty much any pasta sauce, and can be the choice of pasta for either creamy sauces, tomato-based, or chunky. Here are some ideas.
- Genovese: The classic Ligurian sauce made with basil pesto, green beans, and potatoes. This is the most traditional pairing for Trofie pasta.
- Walnut Sauce: A rich and creamy sauce made from walnuts, garlic, bread soaked in milk, and Parmesan cheese, offering a nutty and hearty flavor.
- Tomato and Basil Sauce: A simple yet flavorful sauce with ripe tomatoes, fresh basil, garlic, and olive oil, perfect for a light and refreshing meal.
- Gorgonzola and Walnut: A creamy and slightly tangy sauce made with Gorgonzola cheese and crushed walnuts, providing a unique and rich flavor profile.
- Marinara Sauce: A classic Italian tomato sauce with garlic, onions, and herbs, offering a tangy and herbaceous taste.
- Mushroom Cream Sauce: A creamy sauce with sautéed mushrooms, garlic, onions, and a splash of white wine, ideal for a hearty and earthy meal.
You basically don't need any equipment to make Trofie pasta, but here are some tools that can make the process easier:
- Wooden Pastry Board. A large wooden board is very useful in making pasta, it's perfect to knead the dough and has enough space to roll it. The peculiarity of this type of board is that it blocks on the table edge so it doesn't slide when you use it.
- Pasta Cutter. Pasta is stretchy and cutting strips or shapes with a knife would be quite difficult. A pasta wheel it's super handy as it cuts pasta effortlessly.
- Pasta Drying Rack. If you don't have much surface space to let the pasta rest on a clean towel, you can use this drying rack to hang the pasta.
- Rolling Pin. Pasta rolling pins are long and thin, but you can use any standard pastry rolling pin to roll pasta by hand.
- Pasta Machine. If instead, you want to roll pasta without much effort, you can use the classic pasta machine. There are also electric pasta machines or Kitchenaid extensions.
Eggless pasta, like Trofie, can be air-dried for a few hours or even days. Use a pasta drying rack or let it sit on a clean towel until you're ready to cook it. Keep in mind that the longer you dry it, the longer it will take to cook (fully dried Trofie can take up to 10 minutes to cook). So taste and adjust the cooking time accordingly.
You can also freeze uncooked fresh pasta. Add the trofie on a tray or plate and freeze for about an hour so they don't stick to each other. After 1 hour, you can move them to a freezer bag or container for up to 6 months. Toss the frozen pasta directly into boiling water and boil for 4-5 minutes.
💭 FAQ & Tips
Yes, you can make Trofie pasta in advance and either air-dry it by letting it rest on a pasta drying rack or on a clean towel dusted with flour. Or you can freeze it for up to 6 months.
Yes, you can freeze all types of pasta. First, lay it on a tray and freeze it for an hour so it doesn't stick into a pasta mass. Then you can transfer the frozen pasta to a freezer bag for up to 6 months. Toss the frozen pasta directly into boiling water and cook for 2-3 minutes longer.
All kinds of sauces can be paired with Trofie. But the absolute best combination is with homemade fresh Basil Pesto.
If you struggle with sticky pasta, always keep some flour by hand. Dust your hands, board, and rolling pin with plain flour while you work the dough. When the pasta is ready, dust it with semolina flour before letting it rest on the towel. Semolina flour will prevent the pasta from sticking to itself, but also leave a more pleasant texture when cooked, while a coat of plain flour on the pasta will leave a slightly slimy texture.
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- 1 cup 170 g Semolina Flour
- a pinch of Salt
- ½ tablespoon Olive Oil
- 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.
- 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)
Nutritional information is only an estimate. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.