Pasta with Pesto and Fresh Tomatoes

Trofie pasta with pesto and fresh tomatoes
Trofie pasta with pesto and fresh tomatoes. Danette St. Onge
    12 min
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Classic, Genovese-style basil pesto is typically paired in its home region of Liguria with either trofie, a short, thin twisted pasta, or trenette, a long, thin, flat noodle, similar to tagliatelle

Trenette or trofie with pesto is often traditionally served with green beans and potatoes cooked together in the pot, a dish known as "pasta al pesto avvantiaggiato" (pesto pasta with an advantage). It's a tasty combination, but the double-starch mixture of potatoes with pasta is also a bit heavy, making it a better choice for a fall or wintertime dish.

In the summer, I prefer to make trofie tossed with pesto sauce and fresh tomatoes. The sweetness and tang of the juicy tomatoes pairs wonderfully with the rich, savory nutty-herbal flavors of the pesto and the pleasing chew of the trofie.

Fresh trofie are the best (sometimes these are sold together with other fresh, packaged pastas in a market's refrigerated section), but some brands, such as Barilla, also make a dried version. 

If you can't find trofie at all, any short (and preferably twisty, although not necessarily) pasta will also work, such as farfalle (bowties), gemelli, fusilli, penne, etc.

Flavorful cherry, grape, or cocktail tomatoes work best in this dish, but if you can't find them, ripe and flavorful vine tomatoes also work.

What You'll Need

  • 9 ounces (250 grams) trofie, fresh or dried (about 1/2 box, if using dried trofie; see above for alternative pasta suggestions if you can't find trofie)
  • 1 recipe of Classic Genovese-Style Basil Pesto (click for ingredients and recipe)
  • 1 cup of fresh cherry or grape tomatoes, halved (or quartered cocktail tomatoes, or cored vine tomatoes cut into large chunks)
  • 1 teaspoon butter (optional)
  • Freshly grated Pecorino Romano or Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, for serving (optional)

How to Make It

Bring a large, covered pot of water to boil over high heat.

When the water reaches a rolling boil, remove the lid and add 1 tablespoon of coarse sea salt. When the water comes back to a rolling boil, add the pasta and cook until al dente (about 10 minutes if dried, shorter if fresh). 

Drain well, retaining about 1/4 cup of the pasta cooking water.

Toss the pasta together with the pesto, tomatoes, and a bit of the cooking water (add just a splash at a time, while stirring) as needed to help the sauce melt and adhere to the pasta.

Some people also like to add a dab of butter at this point, for a richer, silkier pesto sauce. That's up to you. 

Serve immediately, with grated cheese for sprinkling on top, if desired.