Trofie is Ligurian pasta made with flour and water, no eggs. It is rolled by hand into little squiggly shapes and served with basil pesto. If you've never made fresh pasta before, this is a good one to start with for two reasons: you don't need a pasta machine, and trofie is almost impossible to buy outside of Liguria, so your efforts will be rewarded with a dish you can't just order in a restaurant. Cutting the dough into little pieces and rolling each one between your palms is somewhat labor intensive, so plan to serve this dish the Ligurian way - in small portions as a first course. A good way to cope with the task of shaping pasta is to enlist the help of your family. Kids find it particularly fun, and you'll be done in no time.
4 first-course servings
Dough (can be made the day before):
You will need:
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 tsp kosher salt (or 1 tsp table salt)
1 cup cold water
Shaping trofie (1-2 hours before serving):
- Mix flour and salt in a large bowl. Make a well in the center and pour in the water.
- Using a fork, start mixing the flour into the water keeping the wet mixture in the center of the well. When the mixture gets too thick for a fork, mix the dough with your hand until all the flour is incorporated and the dough looks cohesive.
- Clean your hands and press your thumb into the dough. It should feel tacky, but your thumb should come out clean without any dough stuck to it. If the dough is too sticky, add a bit more flour, kneed for a minute and test again.
- Once the dough is the right consistency, it needs some serious kneading. Place it onto a clean work surface and knead for 8 minutes by folding and turning 90 degrees after each fold. Always turn the dough in the same direction. Do not short cut this step! You should end up with dough that is as smooth as a baby's bottom.
- Form the dough into a thick disk, sprinkle with flour, wrap in plastic and let it rest in the fridge for at least 1 hour or overnight.
You will need:
Semolina flour for sprinkling finished pasta
All-purpose flour for sprinkling the work surface
You will need:
2 Tbsp butter
1/2 cup pesto
Finely grated parmesan for sprinkling on pasta
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil (at least 4 quarts). Season heavily with salt (pasta will be in the pot for less than a minute, so your water has to be salty enough to season it).
- Pour the pasta from cookie sheet to a colander and shake to remove semolina.
- Prepare a small bowl to reserve some pasta water.
- Make sure your colander is ready in the sink, the pesto, and butter, and grated cheese are waiting on the counter, and you have serving bowls handy before you cook the pasta. Even half a minute can make a difference between perfect and overcooked pasta, so watch it carefully.
- When the water is at a rolling boil, pour the pasta into the pot, give it a stir and cover. After 30 seconds, start testing every 15 seconds until the pasta is desired tenderness. It should be supple with a little bite. This usually takes 30 seconds to 2 minutes depending on the size of your pasta and how long it sat on the cookie sheet.
- Reserve 2 spoonfuls of pasta water in a small bowl, and drain the pasta.
- Put pasta back in the pot and mix with 1/2 cup pesto, 1 Tbsp pasta water, and 2 Tbsp butter. Serve immediately sprinkled with grated parmesan.