Trofie Pasta and the other Ligurian shapes:
the origins of pasta in Northern Italy
Even if Pasta is nowadays a common food all over Italy, its origins are in Sicily, where Arabs imported it. But, did you know that it’s thanks to the region of Liguria, right up there, between Piedmont and France, that pasta became a symbol of Italian food and spread all over Europe? In fact, dried pasta arrived for the first time in Northern Italy docking in Genoa harbor between 13th and 14th century. Thanks to the thriving commercial activity and the ideal weather, windy and dry, Genoa became the most important pasta productive center and always here the first pasta makers corporation in Italy was established. Moving on along centuries, Liguria kept its record also during industrialization age. The first pasta factory was established in Genoa in 1740, and the most ancient pasta factory still productive was open in 1794 in Savona city. Extra Virgin Olive Oil has always been the most typical dressing for pasta in Liguria, enriched with pine-nuts and aromatic herbs, first of all basil, creating the famous Genoese pesto. But which are the pasta shapes that made Ligurian pasta history, still beloved and eaten?
Trofie Pasta, the perfect one
for Pesto Cream Sauce
If you say Ligurian pasta, you say trofie. The most known and diffused regional pasta shape, Trofie are twists of pasta. This is one type of pasta that is particularly easy for those new to making pasta at home and requires just three ingredients.
Since Trofie is made simply with flour, water, and a little salt it is also a great option for those with egg allergies. Their unique curly shape is obtained by dragging a small ball of pasta with two fingers on the worktable.
Pesto sauce, for its consistency, is their ideal condiment: the dense green pesto wraps itself around each turn of the trofie, and in each strip of pasta there is a taste of Liguria. Trofie pasta with Pesto cream sauce is one of the most classic dishes of the Ligurian cuisine and without doubt one of the tastiest.
Croxetti, a Medieval kind of Pasta
Among the oldest kind of pasta there are Corzetti, small circles of pasta with a flowery decoration stamped on it. Their origins are in Medieval times, when rich feudal families decided to brand the food they were producing and consuming. Corzetti are disks of flour and water cut with a wood mold to stamp on them the family's coat of arms.
It is said that originally the stamp was done by pressing a coin on the pasta. Only afterwards this edible art developed and the pasta makers started to use elaborate wood stamps especially done for embossing any kind of design or noble family coat arm.
Croxetti are still widely eaten, usually dressed with basil pesto or walnut sauce.
Trenette, the Ligurian answer to Spaghetti
Trenette, so-called because they're thought to resemble train tracks, are a Ligurian version of spaghetti.
Similar to them but rectangular, trenette are a narrow, flat pasta shape that goes perfectly with pesto. They can just be made of flour and water or added with eggs, but in any case their ruggedness let a perfect sauce uptake.
The most traditional recipe mixes trenette with Pesto, boiled potatoes, and green beans.
Pansotti, the Ligurian stuffed Pasta
The name itself tells everything about the shape of this pasta: Pansotti literally means “with belly”, because they are triangles of dough stuffed with many types of aromatic herbs. The traditional recipe calls for a mix of wild herbs gathered in the fields called “prebuggiùn“ and a fresh local cheese called "prescinsêua" which is across ricotta and sour cream.
As these ingredients are difficult to find even inside the Italian Riviera borders, people commonly adapt the traditional recipe using greens generally sold in the markets: a mix of spinaches, chard, borages and endive, and ricotta are fine substitutes.
The perfect sauce to top them is the famous walnut sauce, second in Liguria only to basil pesto, creating a ridiculously gourmet vegetarian dish.
Picagge, the Ligurian Lasagna
A mix between tagliatelle and lasagna pastry, Picagge are a kind of egg pasta also called “Ligurian lasagna”.
“Mad picagge” are a variation of the classical one, prepared adding chestnut flour or green herbs to the dough, obtaining colored stripes of pasta.
Because of their thickness, they are topped with Genoese pesto or the more intense “toccu,” ragu made with calf meat.