Never heard of trofie pasta before? If you’re a Trader Joe shopper, chances are you’ve spotted this twisty gem of a pasta shape but maybe sauntered right by it because you’re not sure what pasta sauce would work best with it. Get ready to love how the curvy folds of trofie pasta were made for pesto sauce…homemade or otherwise. Trofie pasta with pesto— such a quick dinner recipe!

close up of silver spoon stirring bowl of pesto and trofie pasta in a white bowl
Trofie pasta (and its curves) holds beautiful pockets of pesto.

Being Italian doesn’t mean that I have eaten every pasta shape imaginable although…that’s certainly a New Year’s resolution I’m up for! While strolling through Trader Joe’s, I came across trofie pasta and my mind started working. How had I never eaten it throughout all my years eating and cooking Italian food.

Or —how have I not even noticed it on menus when I’ve traveled to Italy over the past 4 decades or so?

That question lead to:

  • What is the best sauce for trofie pasta?
  • What is the texture and does it taste any different?
  • And… why, oh why, had I never noticed it in my beloved Italian grocer before?

I’m a question-kind-of-girl who needed some answers.

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What is trofie pasta?

close up of dried trofie pasta on a white background
Store bought trofie pasta is beautifully rustic.

Trofie pasta (pronounced like the award, “tro-fee“) is a rolled and twisted pasta shape that looks like it has been wrapped around a skinny dowel. To make it by hand is a process and not one I’ve attempted…yet. You need to roll and flatten very small pieces of pasta dough and use the side of your hand to carefully pull the pasta into a twisted spiral.

Legend has it that trofie pasta shape came from cooks using the palm of their hands to rub boards coated with excess flour and water while cleaning up after making bread and other things.

Texture

Trofie pasta has a more chewy texture thanks to its tight thin rolls. This makes it the perfect pasta shape to consider for soup or salads because it can hold up to sitting in broth without falling apart or getting too soft.

The Best Sauce for Trofie

A white bowl of basil pesto for trofie
Homemade pesto is ready to be tossed with trofie.

Trofie pasta with homemade basil pesto is a classic combination native to Liguria, a region in Italy. Liguria meets up with Southern France extending its welcome towards Monaco. And the Ligurians found that pesto as a sauce finds its way into the twisted crevices of trofie, offering a big burst of basil flavor in every chewy bite.

p.s. that explains the reason I’d never had it. I definitely need to add Liguria to my list of places to visit in Italy!

Ingredient Call Outs

bag of trofie pasta spilling out on to white background
Trader Joe’s sells trofie pasta ready for pesto or your favorite sauce.

The ingredient list is short and sweet:

  • Trofie pasta. I’ve already mentioned Trader Joe’s but if you don’t have one nearby, I love the option from Rustichella d’Abruzzo.
  • Pesto. I’m a big fan of all things pesto…walnut pesto, pistachio pesto…even Costco’s pesto. Homemade can be made in about 2 minutes but feel free to pick your favorite!
  • Pat of butter.
  • Pasta water. Always pull out a cup or so when making from scratch pasta sauces to add silky body and help the pasta to cling to the sauce.

Pro Tip

Keep the pasta water warm until you’re ready to use it. If not using immediately, gently heat it for a few seconds in the microwave so you don’t cool down the sauce too much.


How to make trofie pasta with pesto

Ready for how easy this is?

  1. Cook 1 lb. of trofie pasta according to package directions in generously salted water. Remember – it’s going to be a little chewy. That’s what you want. Reserve some pasta water (about a cup) and drain. Set aside.
  2. Whip up a batch of pesto sauce or get out a jar of store bought pesto.
large white bowl with pesto sauce and a pat of butter near a colander of trofie pasta
3
Trofie pasta being added to a white bowl of pesto with a pat of butter
4
Pasta water being stirred into large white bowl of trofie pasta with pesto
5
  1. Start by adding 1/2 cup of pesto and a pat of unsalted butter to a large bowl.
  2. Pour over your drained pasta and toss with a large spoon to coat.
  3. Add warm pasta water to loosen the pesto and help distribute it among the trofie.
Finished white bowl of trofie pasta tossed with pesto and parmesan.
6. Sprinkle handfuls of parmesan cheese on trofie al pesto for a great side dish recipe.
  1. Top the whole thing with handfuls of freshly grated parmesan cheese, a sprinkle of salt and some fresh sprigs of basil.

Insider Tips

Make ahead. Cook the trofie ahead of time and refrigerate. Before serving, set the pasta in a colander and run warm water over the it taking clean hands to loosen it up. Follow recipe as directed.

Storage and Reheat. Refrigerate any leftovers in an airtight container for up to 4 days. Trofie pesto can be enjoyed at room temperature. Or quickly reheated for about 30 seconds or the oil from the pesto will separate and the cheese will clump.

More Pasta Sauces for Trofie

a fork twirling tagliatelle in lemon sauce

20 Minute Creamy Tagliatelle al Limone (with Lemon)

white bowl of pesto with a black muddler sitting on wooden board with bowl of pistachios

Quick Pistachio Nut Pesto Sauce with Basil

blue plate with fettucine alfredo and basil sprinkled on the plate with a spoon of parmesan, a bowl of cheese and blue polka dot salt and pepper shakers.

Butter and Cream Sauce

skillet with bowtie pasta and vodka sauce with fresh mozzarella balls and basil leaves.

Spicy Tomato Vodka Sauce with Pancetta


Made this recipe?

I’d love it if you’d share your review and leave a star rating and comment!


close up of silver spoon stirring bowl of pesto and trofie pasta in a white bowl
5 from 1 vote

Quick Trofie Pasta al Pesto

Never heard of trofie pasta before? If you're a Trader Joe shopper, chances are you've seen this twisty gem of a pasta shape but sauntered right by it because you're not sure what pasta sauce would work best with it. The curvy folds of trofie pasta were made for pesto sauce…homemade or otherwise. Trofie pasta with pesto— such a quick dinner recipe!

Ingredients
 

Instructions

  • Cook 1 lb. of trofie pasta according to package directions in generously salted water. Remember – it’s going to be a little chewy. That’s what you want. Reserve some pasta water (about a cup) and drain. Set aside.
    1 lb trofie pasta
  • Whip up a batch of pesto sauce or get out a jar of store bought pesto.
    ½ cup homemade pesto
  • Start by adding 1/2 cup of pesto and a pat of unsalted butter to a large bowl.
    2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • Pour over your drained pasta and toss with a large spoon to coat.
  • Add warm pasta water to loosen the pesto and help distribute it among the trofie.
    ½-1 cup reserved pasta water
  • Top the whole thing with handfuls of freshly grated parmesan cheese, a sprinkle of salt and some fresh sprigs of basil.
    ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, kosher salt, ground black pepper
Course: First Course, Pasta
Cuisine: Italian
Author: Lori Murphy
Did you make this recipe? Tag @josieandnina or tag #josieandnina!
5 from 1 vote (1 rating without comment)

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