Sheet Pan

Lazy Lunch before the Genovese Derby : Trofie e Pesto

July  9, 2010
2 Ratings
  • Serves 4
Author Notes

A “derby” match is one in which two teams from the same city play against other. The modern game of soccer (Calcio) was introduced into Italy by the English through the port of Genoa toward the end of the 19th Century. Today Genoa has two top level professional teams; the eponymous Genoa and Sampdoria. Italy has more pasta shapes than France has cheeses. That would be more than 2,000 recognized shapes and forms. Trofie are little squiggly ones unique to the Ligurian region. This recipe is true to Genoa---the gothic, pre-war Genoa. Instructions follow for making the pasta by hand but I also know that “Rustichella d’Abruzzo” manufactures really good dried trofie (sometimes available at Whole Foods) so feel free to substitute. And the quality of your olive oil really counts here. Oh and, are you a fan of Genoa or La Samp? That matters too… - pierino —pierino

Test Kitchen Notes

What's not to love in a good pesto?! It's simple, but with a ton of BIG flavor packed in. And yes, as pierino states in the instructions, the quality of the olive oil counts for a lot. Even though I rolled my own trofie this time, I probably won't do that again. In keeping with the "lazy" bit he mentions in the title, I'd buy store-bought! The toasted pine nuts on top were the perfect crunch factor. - QueenOfGreen —The Editors

What You'll Need
  • Trofie pasta
  • 2 cups all purpose or 00 Italian flour
  • 2 fresh eggs
  • Pesto
  • 2 to 3 cups fresh basil (decide the amount based on taste, freshness and size of leaves)
  • 1/2 cup best olive oil plus ¼ cup, see notes to cook below
  • 1/4 cup grated parmigiano cheese
  • 1/4 cup grated pecorino sardo (or romano) cheese
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped (not pressed)
  • 1/4 cup; plus 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • sea salt
  1. On a large flat surface, counter or board whatever, make a well with your flour leaving some behind for bench and for your hands
  2. Break the eggs into the well, and using a fork carefully mix the eggs with the flour. Don’t go too fast (like Emeril). Work the flour slowly in from the inside, but keep everything in motion. If you break the well you’ll spend an half hour cleaning up your floor or worse the inside of an open kitchen drawer beneath the board.
  3. Deploy a pastry scraper to finish collecting the dough. Once things have gathered together enough and are becoming "dough like" go to work kneading it with your hands. Scrape and knead. I’ve found that pasta doughs will absorb just about as much egg as they “want” and then that’s enough. Make sure that your hands are floured. With the help of the scraper form a dough ball. Flatten it, give it a half turn and a fold over, another half turn and fold a fold over etc. unitl it’s become a soft and workable double dough. But before you use it seal it up in cling wrap in ball form and allow it to rest for ½ hour.
  4. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
  5. Keep your dough scraper handy, and flour your hands again. When working with fresh pasta dough think of an egg . That’s about the size you want to cut off of your rested ball of dough. Knead it a bit more and then roll it into a thin, narrow dowel about the size of a bread stick. I have a friend who is really good at rolling out “dowels” for everything from gnocchi to orrechiette so I allow her to do this for me. And you may want to envision these trofie as very skinny little gnocchi.
  6. Using a very sharp paring knife, slice very small sections from the dowel. Aim for the width of the antenna on your Iphone, oh what’s that? A cm or something? With your palms roll these into little, skinny slug like shapes---giving them a little twist at the end. Drop on your parchment and soldier on. Cut and roll.
  7. Wash and dry your basil
  8. Grate your two cheeses
  9. Call your mother on your cell
  10. Chop your garlic
  11. Roughly tear the basil up into bits and add to a food processor bowl. Follow that with the garlic, the cheeses and the first ¼ cup of pine nuts. Add sea salt and now with motor running drizzle in the first ¼ cup of olive oil. Pulse it until you have pesto. If necessary add more olive oil. Taste for salt (don’t forget this step).
  12. Boil abundant water. Fresh pasta such as these trofie will cook in just about 1 minute. For dried version, read the package.
  13. So, meanwhile in a hot skillet toast the remaining pine nuts and set aside as water boils. That’s that “meanwhile” thing.
  14. Add salt to your boiling water. Cook the squiggly trofie. Drain and toss with pesto, more olive oil as desired, and finish with more of the toasted pine nuts.
  15. Notes to cooks: Ligurians are REALLY fussy about their olive oils. Age, DOP and blah, blah. Personally I like to use strong, peppery flavored oils from California---because, hey, I live here and California oils are now about where California wines were in the ‘70’s. That translates as, gaining respect.
  16. Also we won’t rest until Rick Steves is brought to justice for his crimes against Liguria.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Aliwaks
  • theicp
  • dymnyno
  • AntoniaJames
  • pierino
Standup commis flâneur, and food historian. Pierino's background is in Italian and Spanish cooking but of late he's focused on frozen desserts. He is now finishing his cookbook, MALAVIDA! Can it get worse? Yes, it can. Visit the Malavida Brass Knuckle cooking page at Facebook and your posts are welcome there.

9 Reviews

Aliwaks July 15, 2010
Pierino...are trofie similar to strozzepretti? I've an olive oil from Puglia that's quite nice, think it'll work?
pierino July 16, 2010
Not similar. Strozzapreti, which as you probably know, describes "priest chokers". An Umbrian shape. The Umbrians also thought up "strangozzi" which are strangling cords meant for tax collectors (often clergy). Trofie are little thin squiggles, only about 1" long. I can see no reason why a Pugliese oil wouldn't work as long as it's a good oil that you like. BTW a recent study by UC Davis (who've pioneered in California olive culture) revealed that a shocking amount of imported extra virgin olive is adulterated with canola or nut oils. The problem is that the FDA has no exact definition of what "extra virgin" means, which makes me think that Rachael Ray must be advising that agency.
theicp July 12, 2010
Never heard of this but will have to look for it - love the pasta lesson! Question, what type of olive oil do you use? I'm on a hunt for some really good olive oil and am looking for recommendations.
pierino July 12, 2010
For most daily uses I tend to prefer lighter Spanish oils. But when you want that big mouthful of olive pushing against basil and cheese I'd go with something stronger. But ultimately it's what tastes good to you. I now live in the Central Coast area of California and I like to use the local oils from here as well as the Napa region. As I said earlier, I like McEvoy and Pasolivo as brands but they taste very different from each other. If you happen to be in California there is small, franchised chain of stores called We Olive which can offer you some really delightful stuff.
dymnyno July 10, 2010
I like #9 too! I thought that the average Italian man lives less than 2 miles from his mother?
shombolar July 9, 2010
Why are you wearing a Roma scarf? :P
You need either the red-and-blue or the blucherchiata!

I had some California extra virgin olive oil and it was very good, but I still think that the Italian oil -the good one- is better, sorry.
I'm from Tuscany and I lived in Genova for a few years.

"Prà basil" rules!
pierino July 9, 2010
I'm wearing a Roma scarf because I'm Romanista. Ultra, curva sud. But I've traveled to games all over Italy including sitting, usually standing, on concrete benches in C2 towns like Gualdo Tadino. I saw some good players travel through Samp; Vialli, Mancini, Platt, Gullit, and l'aeroplanino who joined us in Roma. Cassano is gifted but he's uncoachable.
AntoniaJames July 9, 2010
Really like this. Especially Step # 9. ;o) Great recipe. What brand(s) of olive oil do you use? Do you have particular ones that you like better than others, for specific purposes? Do tell!! (I like CA oils, too . . . . especially the ones with peppery notes.) Thanks!! ;o)
pierino July 9, 2010
The companies with larger productions tend to be more predictable from year to year. For that reason I like McEvoy. Frequently though you can find something from a smaller grower that will hit you with that big olive punch in the mouth that you weren't expecting. I admit I like that. Pasolivo is consistant but tends to be on the "grassy" side.