Trofie with arugula pesto & flash-sautéed cherry tomatoes with garlic scapes

Trofie with arugula pesto and flash-sautéed cherry tomatoes with garlic scapes

Yes, this simple pesto & tomato pasta dish is delicious. But it is the pasta shape itself that’s perhaps most charming…

For years, my fashion career would take me on annual trips to Florence. My husband would tag along and, once business had been taken care of, we’d escape to the hills of Tuscany for a few restorative days. The place we headed for was a remote, enchanting medieval hamlet called Borgo Pretale, an exquisite hotel.

Before long, Borgo Pretale and the charming people who run the place had become good friends and even part of our “summer” family. One evening, Daniele Rizzardini, the brilliant and endearing manager of the hotel, joined us for dinner on the lavender-lined terrace. On the menu that night were trofie, handmade little pasta squiggles.

Authentic Italian pasta, made with love by fishermen’s wives

Do you know about “sexy pasta”? Daniele said. I looked at him, incredulous, wondering if he was pulling my leg. “Let me tell you a story,” he went on. “In the old days, the women of sea villages would get together in the afternoon. They would gather near the port, bringing with them a bowl of pasta dough and a chair, and casually roll trofie while waiting for their husbands to return from their fishing trips. The best part is that they rolled the pasta on the side of their knees… Sexy pasta!”

I thought the story was enchanting. Suddenly my bowl of trofie had acquired a glow and I dove right in. Sexy or not, the pasta was sublime.

A few weeks later, I found myself in my own kitchen, with a beautiful pasta dough I’d just made, trying to roll trofie on the side of my knee and feeling more than a bit ridiculous. It took a few tries for me to figure out that you had to be a fisherman’s wife for this to work.

Nowadays, I’m more inclined to buy my trofie already made, but every time I take a bite of the enticing squiggles, I can’t help but think of Daniele and of the sexy knees of the fishermen’s wives.

Food & wine pairing: Northern Italy, Barbera

Red wine iconIf you want to enjoy a red wine with this pasta, try a Barbera or Pinot Noir from northern Italy. (Or, for a truly spectacular pairing, try Ravines Wine Cellars’ 2008 Pinot Noir from the Finger Lakes.) If you prefer to serve a white wine, then choose a Gavi from northern Italy (made with Cortese grapes) or an unoaked Chardonnay from Mâconnais, Burgundy.

Trofie pasta

Trofie with arugula pesto & flash-sautéed cherry tomatoes with garlic scapes

serves 4
active time: 15 min

  1. sea salt for the pasta water (about 1 tablespoon)
  2. 1 lb (455 g) trofie or gemelli
  3. 1 recipe flash-sautéed cherry tomatoes with garlic scapes
  4. 1 recipe arugula pesto
  5. chive tips as garnish

  1. Step 1: Bring 6 quarts of water to a boil. When the water is boiling, add the salt and the pasta. Cook pasta until tender but still al dente. Drain well.
  2. Step 2: While the pasta is boiling, make the flash-sautéed cherry tomatoes with garlic scapes and chives. Set aside.
  3. Step 3: When the pasta is drained, transfer to a large bowl. Spoon the arugula pesto over the pasta and toss well. Spoon pasta in bowls. Garnish with the warm cherry tomatoes and the chive tips. Finish with freshly ground black pepper (if desired) and serve immediately.

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Trofie with arugula pesto and flash-sautéed cherry tomatoes with garlic scapes

main course, pasta, pesto


  1. Such a fun pasta shape! It looks so beautiful and delicious.

  2. Elizabeth Gaeta

    Have you been able to find wild, organic watercress out there? I think of you every year when my nephew picks it in his secret stream. Love your videos. Hope you are well an happy out there.

    • Viviane Bauquet Farre

      No wild watercress to be found here yet. It’ll have to wait ’til next winter. The dry season has arrived here. I hope your nephew brought you an armful this spring! So glad you like the videos… I hope all is well with you too, Elizabeth! Thank you for your comment…

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  8. This recipe looks fantastic! I am actually hosting a garlic scapes linky party at as part of our Fresh Produce Tuesday series. I would love if you submitted this recipe!


  9. Love this post! And this pasta! I love the fun shape!

  10. Oh, my. What an amazing pasta dish! My parents spent three summers in Cortona…and I visited them once. The food there was spectacular…you’ve brought back such amazing memories. Fabulous post~

  11. Loved the story and your pasta looks sexy, rolling on knees or not. Sounds like a good date night at home dish.

  12. Rolling trofie with knee…wow..that sounds too cool!
    Your pasta dish looks so summery, fresh and delectable.

  13. Carnen Brissette Grayson

    Love your blog which I found via Marc’s Facebook mentions. Have just put together the garlic confit-arugola-grilled cheese gem – though not yet cooked it. Will finish process tonight. I was unsure of the amount of the smushed garlic to spread or if I’ve under- or overdone the fontina. Vediamo.

    Re the trofie-arugola-flashy tomatoes: can the pasta be served at room temp or could you mix-match temps bt tomato & pasta? This morning, my Whole Foods didn’t have trofie or scapes (but at least they were apologetic.)

  14. Viviane this dish looks just wonderful. I love the recipe and I enjoyed reading your story..
    Thank you so much for sharing!

  15. What a great story. It sounds like you had such memorable experiences there. I’ve never tried trofie but definitely will after seeing the delicious recipe!

  16. Makes you wonder who comes up with pasta shapes? These little squiggles are kind of cool-nice change from the standard. That first picture is nothing but awesome-perfect red tomatoes and lovely green pesto. Thanks for sharing.

  17. That is certainly sexy pasta…the trofie is so cute; I’d have to attempt it, too! You did a fabulous job…and so beautiful coated in pesto with those vibrant tomatoes. Lovely dish~

  18. I doubt I would have much luck rolling pasta on my knee, but I love that that’s how it was done. Now, I’m wishing I’d made arugula pesto this year. I didn’t have as much arugula as usual from my garden, so I skipped it. Sounds delicious with the trofie!

    • Lisa! Trust me, rolling pasta on the side of your knee is not as easy as it sounds! Hope you get to plant arugula in the fall… Mine has done well this spring, but we had very cool weather.

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  20. This is my kind of dish – simple but so full of flavor. Love argula pesto! Wonderful!

  21. What a great visual!

  22. Hi Viviane: I enjoyed your story about the “sexy pasta”. =) I need to find some trofie pasta. Once I try it, I know I will always think about your story.

    Beautiful pasta dish and flavors, sprinkled w/a good cheese and glass of wine…perfection! I hope to one day visit Italy…it’s #1 on my list of places I must see in my lifetime {sigh…}.

    • Cristina, I hope you get to realize your dream of going to Italy very soon! Your will adore the food and you will love taking photos. There’s beauty everywhere you look. Thank you for your comment. I’m glad you enjoyed the story – to this day it makes me smile! Last but not least, I know you will love trofie when you get a chance to taste it. They are superb!

  23. Sexy pasta! Hahaha! I love it!

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