“Trofie al pesto” is an Italian dish typical of the region of “Liguria”. This dish consists of pasta, green beans and boiled potatoes seasoned with a sauce made with basil, cheese, olive oil and pine nuts. The region of Liguria is well known in Italy for its aromatic herbs, in particular basil. Another great product that is typical of Liguria is olive oil; which is one of the main ingredients of the Genovese Pesto, the sauce we’re going to talk about.
Let’s focus first on this particular kind of pasta. “Trofie” basically are little twists of pasta. They are perfect to receive and hold the dressing, hence this pasta works perfectly with delicious sauces like pesto. If you wish to start making pasta at home, you can perfectly well start with trofie. This kind of pasta is particularly easy to shape, and the dough is soft and hydrated, making it easier to work with, compared to, for example, the tortellini dough.
The dough is the easiest: durum wheat flour, tepid water and a pinch of salt; you should add the water to the flour little by little and mix well with your hands, until the dough is smooth and not sticky.
Once the dough is ready, cover it with a towel or a reversed bowl, and let it rest for 15 to 20 minutes at room temperature. When the dough is relaxed, the gluten contained in the pasta is less rigid, and this allows us to shape the pasta easily. Once the dough is ready, you can cut it into small portions (when you shape the pasta you have to work with small portions, keeping the rest of the dough covered in order to prevent the dough from drying). Now you can start the shaping process: create small tubes on a lightly floured surface, then cut the tubes into little cylinders (approximately 5 cm long); then use a table knife to lightly run through all the length of the small cylinders, so that you create the typical cut on the pasta. Lay the shaped trofie on a floured wooden board, and you’re ready!
Let’s now talk about pesto! The name of this sauce belongs to the tool which is traditionally used to make pesto: mortar and pestle (in Italian “pestello”). This sauce is perfect for the summer time, because it is a raw sauce.
The ingredients for pesto are:
- 160 g of fresh basil leaves - the best you can find, since the quality of the pesto largely depends on the quality of the basil you use
- 150 g of cheese - 2/3 of Parmigiano Reggiano and 1/3 of Pecorino Sardo
- Garlic - one clove, removing the internal germ
- 150 g of extra virgin olive oil - the perfect oil for pesto is, obviously, the one made in Liguria; the taste of this oil is delicate, not spicy or aggressive at all, and slightly fruity; so, if you can’t find a Ligurian oil, you can buy a “delicate” olive oil
- 70 g of pine nuts - not toasted, just raw. They add the sweet flavour which balances the aggressiveness of the basil, garlic and cheese
- Salt to taste - just a pinch, the two cheeses are very savoury.
If you don’t have a mortar (or if you’re too lazy to use it), you can make pesto with a food processor, using the pulse function, otherwise basil leaves will oxidate and the colour of your sauce will not be bright.
Wash and dry the leaves, and start working all the ingredients together, except for the oil. Then add the oil slowly and keep on working until you have a smooth and creamy sauce. If you wish, you can prepare a large amount of pesto, and then you can freeze it and use it when you want.
Now that you know how to make trofie and how to make pesto, you only need to know how to assemble the original Italian dish. The ingredients are: pesto, trofie (about 320 g per 4 people), red potatoes (about 150 g), and fresh green beans (about 150 g).
First of all, wash and cut green beans (approximately 5 cm long, just like the trofie), then cook in boiling water and drain when they’re still crunchy. Then, peel potatoes, and cut them in cubes of 1 cm per side. Cook potatoes and pasta together in a large pot of boiling water, previously salted, and drain when the pasta is “al dente” and the potatoes are well cooked. Put all the ingredients in a large bowl and mix gently. If needed, add some spoons of the water in which you cooked the pasta.
Enjoy your trofie al pesto!