Trofiette Liguri and Genovese Pesto

The basil of Liguria is intense in aroma. They produce small leaf basil that I haven’t seen anywhere else. The essential oils of basil are in the veins of the leaves. I was told that making pesto requires patients and love. The motion of the wooden pestle against the stone mortar brings out the oils. Add the leaves a little at a time, listen to the sound of the pestle as you move it against the mortor. The aroma is intoxciating. I love the way Italians talk about food, it is always so sensual.

I make Genovese pesto without cheese, pour it into ice cube trays and freeze it for soups or sauces. I store it in a glass jar, topped with olive oil and refrigerate it. Top it off with oil each time to assure it doesn’t oxidize. It is at my disposal whenever I want to add it to a dish such as chicken salad or drizzled over fish and always ready for pasta.

Often in Liguria the cheese is left out and used to flavor many other dishes. Soup, sauces, vegetables, topping for pizza, tossed with pasta, drizzled on fish, salads, a little pesto wakes up the flavors.

Mix the pesto with cheese such as Ricotta or Pecorino are also used. One of my favorites is a soft fresh chèvre with freshly ground pepper tossed with pasta. There are some lovely formaggi di capra made in the Alpe Liguri.

Trofiette Liguri is the traditional pasta with pesto and is served in every restaurant and household. Thank goodness you can buy trofiette packaged because hand making this pasta would truly be a labor of love.

Basilico Pesto
Yield: 4 Servings

4 oz. fresh basil
4 tablespoons of grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons pinoli nuts (pine nuts)
3 cloves garlic
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil (light in flavor)
Salt to taste, (Don’t use large grain salt)

Wash the basil leaves in cold water and dry them on a towel. With a marble mortar and wooden pestle pound the garlic into a paste. The garlic should not overwhelm the basil. Add some salt and grind it into the garlic paste. Add the basil a little at a time and with a gentle swirling motion grinding it into the garlic. You get the best taste by gently grinding the leaves. At this point add the pine nuts, a handful at a time. When the nuts are soft and incorporated start adding the cheese. Begin to add the extra virgin olive oil. It is important the flavor of the oil is light so that it doesn’t overwhelm the flavor of the basil. The light olive oil of the Luguria blends perfectly with the basil mixture.

The preparation should be done at room temperature and as quickly as possible to avoid oxidation.

Trofiette Liguri is served everywhere and is a specialty of this region. Boil the water salting it sufficiently and drop in the trofiette. It will take longer then most pasta to cook, about 19 minutes. Toss it well with the pesto and serve the grated cheese either Parmesan or Pecorino on the side. Drizzle the same light extra virgin olive oil over the top.


~ by Patricia Turo on June 28, 2010.

6 Responses to “Trofiette Liguri and Genovese Pesto”

  1. Oh…how I wish I were there with you when you were appreciating all that freshness of the basil and pine nuts. Just beautiful.
    I can almost smell how good you made that pesto…the color alone speaks volumes ;o)

    Thanks for sharing a part of your vacation activities ;o)
    Flavourful wishes,


  2. From the picture, it looks delicious. This will be dinner tomorrow!


  3. I’ve just returned from my first trip to Italy and am trying to find out where I can purchase the Trofiette Liguri. If you have a source I would appreciate knowing where I can purchase it. Thank you.


    • Rebecca
      First of all thankyou for visiting my blog. That is a hard question. I have found trofiette a few times in speciality stores. I was living in Switzerland and bought it in Como Italy, but now I’m in South Florida and have found it at Marky’s in Maimi. I have seen it a few times in speciality and also got it through a chef that I know. But it is very difficult to find and I suggest that if you find it, buy several packages, however it is expensive here. I have also tried to make it myself which can be done by using a pasta machine and cutting it extremely small as it comes out of the spegetti cutter and then rolling them with your hands. This isn’t ideal and really doesn’t compare to the packaged brand. It is funny as most pasta’s I prefer handmade, but there are a few that just don’t do it for me and trofiette is one of them. Good luck, I wish I could have been more help.



    • Hi Patricia,

      I visited Marky’s of Miami’s website and although they didn’t have the pasta in stock they gave me an alternative spelling for the pasta. I found Pirro Trofie Pasta from Italy on after a web search with the new spelling. Thank you so much for your response as it helped me locate a source!

      Rebecca Date: Sat, 20 Apr 2013 23:36:35 +0000 To:


  4. Hi Rebecca,

    Again Thank you for visiting my website. As I said I buy it in Italy, Marky’s has a very small amount of pasta in the shop and probably it is not worth it for them to ship it. I believe Markys’ sells it for $6+, I have bought it for as much as $8+ per package and have seen it for as much as $12 per lb. However, in Italy it is about $4 per lb. Even in Italy this is considered very expensive for pasta. Hope this gives you an idea of what you can expect to pay.



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