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Vegan Homemade Trofie Pasta is a classic Italian fresh pasta made for centuries on the Italian riviera Ligure. Our recipe follows the original tradition. It's made with only three ingredients, it's naturally vegan, shaped by hand, and dressed with a delicious vegan pesto sauce.
There are about 350 different kinds of pasta and each of them comes with a different history and shape.
On the riviera of Italy, rolling pasta in the palm of your hand is called trofie, a type of pasta that is perfectly compatible with pesto.
Good homemade pasta is unbeatable! There's no pre-made pasta that can compete with a home-rolled and carefully shaped pasta like this trofie.
Later, we will pair it with a creamy vegan basil-pesto, but for now we will teach you the surprisingly easy technique of the Northern Italian trofie "fatte in casa" (home-made).
Semolina: Semolina (Semola di grano duro rimacinata in Italian) is basically flour made from durum wheat, rather than regular wheat. It's coarser, and more yellow than regular wheat flour.
It also has an exceptionally high protein count. This makes it ideal for rustic breads and pasta, giving it strength, stronger aroma, and elasticity.
You will probably be able to find semolina in your regular grocery store, right next to the all purpose flour.
Many Italian regional traditions from the North to the South use semolina to make a naturally vegan pasta that does not contain eggs.
Water: make sure to use hot water. It helps hydrating the semolina flour.
Salt: we recommend adding fine sea salt to this dough to give more flavour to the dish, as there are no eggs in the mix.
You'll need a clean working surface. Usually in Italy a wooden surface is used as this has good grip when you roll the pasta.
📋 Recipe Card
Vegan homemade Trofie pasta
- 3 cups semolina (500 grams)
- 1⅓ cups hot water (250-300 ml)
- 1 tsp salt
- On a clean surface, make a volcano shape with the semolina and add the salt at the centre.
- Slowly add the water into the volcano shaped semolina and start incorporating water and semolina with a fork, starting from the inside of the volcano.
- Keep incorporating semolina and water until you added most of the water.
- When the semolina has absorbed most of the water, start bringing all the semolina pieces together with your hands, and shape them into a dough ball.
- Knead the dough with your hands for at least 10 minutes, until it looks smooth. See video for technique.
- Make a dough ball, and let it rest wrapped in film for 15 minutes. This will help relax the gluten, and you'll have an easier time shaping the pasta into the trofie.
- Start shaping the pasta into trofie. Cut the dough ball into 10 pieces. Then start rolling one piece at a time into long snake-shaped pasta tubes. Keep the other pasta pieces wrapped in the foil or they'll get dry.
- Cut the long pasta snakes into small 1-inch long (3 cm) pieces.
- With the palm of your hand roll each small piece forward making it thinner and wider.
- Then with the side of your hand, roll backward diagonally, forming a little screw-shaped pasta piece (trofia). See video to learn the technique.
- Cook the trofie in salted boiling water and serve with our vegan pesto sauce.
👨🏻🍳 Top tips
Use the right flour
If you do homemade pasta without eggs, we suggest you follow the old Italian tradition of Liguria and Apulia. That is, use 100% semolina flour. You'll get a better texture, flavour and colour.
Use a wooden board
Traditional pasta making in Italy is made on special wooden boards. They are very inexpensive and they work best because they have good grip when you roll and shape the pasta. If you can't find one, you can use a large cutting board instead.
Use Hot Water
When doing pasta without eggs and with 100% semolina flour we recommend using hot water to help the flour hydrate. If you use normal wheat flour you can use warm water instead.
Work it like you mean it
This vegan homemade trofie pasta requires a great dose of energy to work the gluten in the flour. Using your hands is a great way to de-stress and meditate during your pasta session. Just think about your 9 to 5 and your boss. You'll get the best pasta dough.
Don't take shortcuts
You'll need around 15 min of kneading to get the best gluten consistency. You'll also need 15 to 30 min letting the pasta rest wrapped in film to relax the gluten so that you can easily shape the pasta. Don't shorten those times.
Use your hands
You can knead the dough with a food processor, but for best results you want to feel the dough with your hands to see if you got the right hydration and consistency.
Cover it up
When resting, the dough ball needs to be wrapped tightly in film or covered with a moist kitchen cloth, or else it'll get dry and it will be impossible to roll it and shape it.
After you shaped the pasta, you can let it dry at room temperature for up to a few hours before cooking it, or before freezing it.
📖 Questions & answers
Semolina is a type of flour made from hard wheat. It is coarser than wheat flour, it's yellow, it has a stronger aroma and a higher protein content.
Semolina has been used in Italian pasta and bread making traditions for centuries, from the north to the south of Italy.
It is used because is inexpensive and because it allows to make pasta without adding eggs thanks to its higher protein content that gives more texture and structure to the pasta.
No one knows really. There are many hypothesis. My favourite one is that trofie comes from the verb "strofinare" which in Italian means to rub.
Trofie pasta is from Liguria - Italy - more precisely the area around Golfo Paradiso and the towns of Sori, Avegno, Recco e Camogli. This is also the region where the best basil in the world is from. It's no coincidence trofie al pesto is from here.
Yes. Traditional trofie pasta is made with only semolina, water and salt and it is naturally vegan.
See video for proper technique. Roll forward the small piece of pasta with your hand, and then backward diagonally with the side of your hand until you get a little screw-shaped pasta piece.
In our opinion, the best alternative to trofie is fusilli. They are easier to find and still go well with pesto.
A portion of fresh pasta weighs between 80 grams to 120 grams per person.
Pesto is the most traditional sauce for trofie. You can add string beans and potatoes to it if you want to make it even more traditional. Trofie pasta also goes well with a light fresh tomato and basil sauce.
- Refrigerate: fresh pasta without eggs can be stored in the refrigerator in an air-tight container for 36 hours max.
- Dry: to extend the shelf-life of fresh trofie pasta you need to let it dry for a minimum of 12 hours to a max of 2 days. To do that, you need to place the pasta on a pasta drying cloth or rack so that the air flows around it.
My grandmother however didn't have fancy equipment and used to dry the pasta on a wooden board. If you do this, remember to turn the pasta every few hours so that it dries on all sides.
If you do this right, your dry trofie can last up to 3 months wrapped in a paper bag.
- Freeze: let the pasta dry for one hour first. Then place the trofie on a tray without them touching. Cover with a cloth or film and put in the freezer for 3 hours. Once frozen, take them out, transfer into freezer bags, write the date on it, and put back in the freezer for up to 3 months. Cook from frozen.
Egg-free hard wheat pasta (fresh or dry) is a classic first course in Italian cuisine (primo piatto) with a main dish coming afterwards (secondo piatto).
Add some extra vegetables to your pasta and it can easily be served as a main event of a dinner, maybe with an extra side dish or a side salad.
The pasta "trofie" is best served with a basil pesto "genovese" (vegan) and the old Genovese tradition calls for a pairing with string beans and boiled potatoes.
But feel free to challenge tradition! We decided to pair the trofie with green pesto, dark green kale and broccoli.
The result was a beautiful symphony of greens that will leave your eyes and your mouth wanting for more.
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If you have any tips or questions let us know in the comments below!