I tend to be a bit basil obsessed, and since I can only grow it during the summer months, I like to go all out. I usually purchase a few packets of seeds in early spring and grow as many basil plants as possible, of every variety I can find. We usually have at least 15 to 20 basil plants in our yard every year. And while each plant may not be massive, it still gives me plenty of basil to use throughout the season.
So, this year, when the temp started to drop, and an inevitable freeze is on it’s way, I decided I better use up the basil we still have growing by making my favorite, pesto! I love the stuff. And while Ry may not be as much of a fan as I am, he’ll at least eat a pesto centric meal once every other week, or so. I like to think my enthusiasm has coerced him into enjoying it. I could honestly put in on anything, or just eat it with a spoon. But, in this instance, I decided I’d make a day out of it by making some homemade pasta too.
I love making pasta, you get to play with your food, chill out and them have something delish to eat afterwards. And, I figured why not make a classic pasta to go along with pesto such as trofie. It’s like tiny spiral squiggles. It’s also nice cause it doesn’t require any special equipment to make. Just a little practice and some patience.
Trofie al pesto is a classic Ligurian dish. The pesto is classically made with Genovese basil and Ligurian olive oil and then green beans and, or, potatoes are added in. I kept it super basic here and had just the pasta and pesto, and I certainly didn’t worry about keeping the oil Ligurian or the basil only Genoan. I used some really good extra virgin olive oil, Parmigiano Reggiano, garlic, pine nuts and an assortment of green basil from the yard. I did garnish with some purple basil, but didn’t add it to the pesto. I didn’t want to spoil that vibrant green color!
I like to think my enthusiasm has coerced him into enjoying it.
Like most recipes, I recommend using what you have, and substituting here and there. I’m a fan of all pestos, they don’t need to be this classic version. Feel free to use whatever green or nut you want and play around with different cheeses too. I like to use parsley or arugula and occasionally use hazelnuts, walnuts or almonds. Keep it simple and use what you have and what’s good and available right now. It’ll be delicious.
And, if you plan on making the trofie by hand, just be patient. It does take a few tries to get used to rolling the little spirals out. And, it takes a good while to get through the full ball of dough. It’s a lazy, all-day, weekend type of thing
Trofie al Pesto
using our homegrown basil
For the Trofie
- 2 cups flour
- 2 eggs
- 1/4 cup water
- dash of oil
- generous pinch of salt
For the Pesto
- Lots of Basil – maybe 2-3 cups, lightly packed
- Small handful Pine Nuts – maybe 2-3 tbsp
- 1/2 cup olive oil – get the good stuff
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
- salt as needed – usually the cheese is salty enough
The Pasta Part
You’re just making a basic pasta dough. You can either mix everything in a bowl, on the counter, or to keep things bit tidier as I do. Add the flour, eggs, oil and salt to a food processor. Pulse a few times just till combined and you can see if you need to add in any extra water. Usually, you can check by just pinching a bit of the dough to see if it sticks together. It should form a small clump, it shouldn’t be dry or crumbly. If it needs more water add in a tablespoon or two at a time, just until the dough forms a ball. I ended up adding in about 1/4 cup.
Next, dump your dough out onto a floured surface and kneed for about 10 mins. You’ll know you’re done when the dough is smooth and bounces back when you poke it. Wrap it up in some plastic film, and let it chill for at least 30 minutes.
One major recommendation here. You’re gonna want to form your trofie on a wooden surface. I used a cutting board. You don’t want to use a super smooth surface or else the dough will just slide all over the place and won’t form the little spiral shape. And, the wood also gives the surface of the pasta a nice texture to grab onto the pesto. Take your dough ball and pull off a small chunk, about 1/2 tsp. Aim for smaller, not bigger, here. Place your dough at the bottom of the board and stating with the tips of your fingers firmly roll up, like you were rolling the dough into a tube. Once the dough is at the base of your palm, keep pressure on it, and pull back and down at a 45 degree angle on the board using the outside of your hand, until you’ve rolled out the full length of the dough. You need to keep enough pressure against the board on the way down to create that spiral shape. It’ll take a few times to get used to it, at least it did for me, but once you get going, it’s a bit meditative. Just be patient and enjoy the process until you’ve used up all your dough. Also, these don’t need to be perfectly uniform. Just try and keep them smaller, they taste better that way, and try to keep them roughly the same size so they cook at the same rate.
And, if this is not at all remotely appealing to you, you can just boil some store bought pasta. It’s not a big deal.
The Pesto Part
Next up the pesto part. You can do this in a blender, food processor, using an immersion blender, or in a pestle and mortal. Totally up to you. Combine your garlic and nuts, and process till your have a sandy texture. Next add in your basil and oil and process till smooth. Lastly add in as much grated cheese as you like, stir to combine. Check if you need any salt, maybe some lemon? Pepper? Whatever you think it needs.
The last bit is just boiling your trofie in salted water, usually about 12 minutes or so, but keep checking since it all depends on how big they are. Drain your pasta well, and off the heat add in plenty of that delish pesto. Top with some addition basil if you like, more cheese and eat up!