By Elisabetta Ciardullo

A couple of weeks ago we spoke about the recipe for the Ligurian Pesto sauce. Well, Pesto is used in many ways, but for sure it was created to go hand in hand with the pasta called Trofie, also typical of Liguria. This is a hand rolled pasta, so easy to make that it can be a great and fun family project. The name of the pasta derives from a verb in the Genovese dialect that means “to rub”, from the movement that you have to make to obtain its shape: rubbing the dough against a wooden table or between your palms.

As with many other Italian pasta types that require an incredible amount of love and dedication, the Trofie were traditionally made by the women of the family, who would get together around a large table and make the pasta while chatting away all afternoon. Of course, the invention of a machine to make this shape of pasta made everything easier (and scrapped the therapeutic collective process), but surprisingly the mechanical production of Trofie started only in 1977, by Pastificio Novella. To tell you the truth I do not remember eating Trofie in Rome as a kid; the first time I saw them was during a vacation in Liguria, just around that period.

The ingredients to make Trofie are only three: semola (which is the result of the grinding of hard wheat), water, and salt. It is important to use this kind of flour, as it is coarser and has a more rustic taste and texture than regular flour. Semola can be purchased in any Italian food store or on the internet, and it is very different from any other flour. It is made from the hard wheat; it is grinded twice “rimacinata” and has a fine texture. The color is more yellowish than the baking flour. Careful though, as it cannot be substituted with “semolina”, which is a much coarser grinding of the durum wheat.

This recipe is a poorer version of egg noodles. Once more the economic need to make something appetizing with very little ingredients gave birth to one of the most scrumptious dishes.

The pasta is of course high in carbs; but with the help of this amazing, healthy sauce and a generous serving of Extra Virgin Olive oil, it becomes an acceptable trade-off, that will soothe the mind and resource the spirit.


(For 4 portions)
300 gr. Semola “rimacinata “
150 gr. approximately of Water, room temp
A pinch of salt.


1. Put the flour in a bowl, make a well in the middle and pour the water, add the salt.

2.Start mixing with a fork, incorporating the flour.

3. When the mixture become too sticky use your fingertips to incorporate all the flour.

4. When the mixture become too hard, move to a wooden board to work the dough with your fingertips first and with your full palms later, as the dough comes together.

5. When you get to a smooth consistency, make a ball shape, wrap the dough in plastic wrap, and let it rest for 30 minutes in a cool place.

6. Cut a small quantity of the dough. Give it the form of a snake, rolling gently with your fingertips on a wooden board sprinkled with semolina (this time the coarse kind). Get to the thickness of a finger approximately.

7. Cut small pieces, the size of a bean. Roll them between your palms, trying to twist them. You will obtain small “worm-shape” like pieces of pasta, slightly thicker in the middle. Put them aside on a floured surface. Sprinkle with semolina to avoid sticking.

8. Keep on going until all the dough has been rolled.

9. Put a large pot of water to boil. Add salt just before boiling, enough so that the water tastes like seawater.

10. Throw the Trofie in the boiling water. Don’t worry about different shapes or thicknesses. They will start floating when cooked; remove the floating Trofie from the water with a slotted spoon. They are ready to be napped with the sauce of your choice!

Please note:you can also roll the dough beans on a wooden board with the palm of your hand, making an imaginary reverse V shape to obtain the typical shape.

Sauce Suggestions:

Add the home-made pesto, sprinkle with Parmigiano and some roasted pine nuts and a couple of leaves of fresh basil for decoration and enjoy!

Buon Appetito, Elisabetta

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