I used to make a yearly trip to Tuscany, where my husband and I would stay at an exquisite hotel called Borgo Pretale. One evening, Daniele Rizzardini, the brilliant and endearing manager of the hotel, joined us for dinner on the lavender-lined terrace. On the menu that night were trofie, handmade little pasta squiggles.
"Do you know about 'sexy pasta'?" Daniele said. I looked at him, incredulous, wondering if he was pulling my leg. "Let me tell you a story,"€ he went on. "€œIn the old days, the women of sea villages would get together in the afternoon. They would gather near the port, bringing with them a bowl of pasta dough and a chair, and casually roll trofie while waiting for their husbands to return from their fishing trips. The best part is that they rolled the pasta on the side of their knees - hence, 'Sexy pasta!'"€
I thought the story was enchanting. Suddenly my bowl of trofie had acquired a glow and I dove right in. Sexy or not, the pasta was sublime.
A few weeks later, I found myself in my own kitchen, with a beautiful pasta dough I'€™d just made, trying to roll trofie on the side of my knee and feeling more than a bit ridiculous. It took a few tries for me to figure out that you had to be a fisherman's wife for this to work.
Nowadays, I'm more inclined to buy my trofie already made, but every time I take a bite of the enticing squiggles, I can'€™t help but think of Daniele and of the sexy knees of the fishermen'€™s wives. —Viviane Bauquet Farre
- Serves 4
- For the pasta and sauce
sea salt for the pasta water (about 1 tablespoon)
Trofie or Gemelli
arugula - rinsed and spin-dried
large garlic clove - skinned
blanched, sliced almonds
freshly grated Reggiano Parmesan
freshly grated Pecorino Romano
sea salt (or to taste)
extra virgin olive oil
- For the tomatoes
extra virgin olive oil
young garlic scapes - cut on the diagonal in 1/8" slices (1 cup) (see Cook's note)
small bunch fresh chives - cut in 1/4" pieces using kitchen scissors (1/4 cup)
1 1/2 pounds
assorted cherry tomatoes (4 cups) - halved
freshly ground black pepper to taste
- First, make the pesto: Place all ingredients (arugala, garlic, almonds, cheese, salt, pepper and oil) in the bowl of a food processor. Process until it forms a creamy paste, about 2 to 3 minutes, scraping the sides of the bowl once. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
- Bring 6 quarts of water to a boil. When the water is boiling, add the salt and the pasta. Cook pasta until tender but still al dente. Drain well.
- While the pasta is boiling, prepare the cherry tomatoes: Heat a large heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil and garlic scapes and sauté for 2 to 2 1/2 minutes, until garlic scapes are tender and just begin to turn dark green, stirring frequently. Add the chives, tomatoes, salt and pepper and sauté for 30 seconds shaking the pan vigorously so they warm up evenly. (The tomatoes should not cook or the skins will get tough. They should be barely warmed.) Remove from heat.
- When the pasta is drained, transfer to a large bowl. Spoon the arugula pesto over the pasta and toss well. Spoon pasta in bowls. Garnish with the warm cherry tomatoes and the chive tips. Finish with freshly ground black pepper (if desired) and serve immediately.