Trottole Trapanese


This is a pasta post, based on my discovering the cutest twirly pasta ever, called Trottole. I purchased the spinach variety, for color.

As is my pattern, apparently, I purchase a unique pasta, then figure out what sauce to put on it. For the trottole, I decided to again make a Sicilian pasta sauce I wrote about five years ago. It got some attention, but not enough.

This sauce is so crazy wonderful and different than anything I’ve ever come across on other food blogs, that you folks need to discover it, too. So here it is again.

The sauce, called Pesto Trapenese, is an uncooked, Tunisian-influenced tomato sauce, that originated in Trapani, Sicily. The sauce is ready before the pasta has finished cooking. I discovered it in Nigella Lawson’s cookbook called Nigellissima.

Ms. Lawson uses fusilli lunghi when she makes Pesto Trapanese, otherwise called telephone cords, but I think these trottole will be a perfect substitute.

Trottole with Pesto Trapanese
Or, Sicilian Pasta with Tomatoes, Almonds, and Garlic

1 pound fusilli lunghi (or other pasta of your choice)
salt for pasta water (to taste)
9 ounces cherry tomatoes
6 anchovy fillets
1 ounce golden sultanas
2 cloves garlic (peeled)
2 tablespoons capers (drained)
2 ounces blanched almonds
2 ounces extra virgin olive oil
1 small bunch fresh basil (approx. 20g / 1 cup, to serve)
Cayenne pepper flakes

Put abundant water on to boil for the pasta, waiting for it to come to the boil before salting it. Add the pasta and cook according to packet instructions, though start checking it a good 2 minutes before it’s meant to be ready.

While the pasta is cooking, make the sauce by putting all of the 7 ingredients through the olive oil into a processor and blitzing until you have a nubbly-textured sauce.

Tip the drained pasta into your warmed serving bowl. Pour and scrape the sauce on top, tossing to coat (add a little more pasta-cooking water if you need it).

Serve immediately and strew with basil leaves.

Grated Parmesan and cayenne pepper flakes are optional.

I’m so in love with the trottole. And they hold their shape beautifully.

And you can bet I’ll keep making pesto Trapanese. At first you taste the bite from the garlic, then the saltiness from the anchovies, then the tang from the capers, and then some raisin sweetness, and finally, the texture from the almonds. The tomatoes are hardly noticeable, yet provide a good base for the goodies.

Try this sauce!!!



73 thoughts on “Trottole Trapanese

    • The sauce is so unique and delicious I could spread it on bread and eat it. Actually, that’s a good idea! The pasta is a fun shape and sturdy.

    • Have you ever heard of this sauce? I’ve made it 4 times since discovering it – incredible. (It’s rare that I repeat a recipe once!)

      • I make spaghetti with anchovies, raisins, capers and toasted breadcrumbs quite often. However, I don’t puree or add tomatoes to it. This version looks very tasty. I plan to give this version a try soon. :)

    • Although without roasted red bell peppers, right? It’s just so unique I can’t wait for you to try it!

    • Oh my god I’m so excited for you to make this! I can’t describe how unique and wonderful it is. You must taste it!!! Follow the recipe! (I only say that because I always do my own thing with recipes, but this is one where the ratios are so important for all the flavors and textures to shine!)

    • Try it Emma – You will love it! Well, you have to love all of the ingredients, but it’s so unique and delicious.

    • You’re right! I must not have looked at the ingredients, which doesn’t seem like me, but I didn’t remember, obviously. Isn’t it the best sauce ever?

  1. Interesting! So it’s similar to a pesto, but with so much more going on. And indeed, that is absolutely an amazing pasta shape! I’ll bet this is delicious.

  2. I love the Trottole pasta shape. I’ve never tried it but there’s a store near me that I’m sure will have it. Can’t wait to cook it and I’ll make this delicious sounding sauce too. I always love the addition of anchovies to a pasta dish. YUM!

    • It’s an incredible sauce, isn’t it?!! I must get myself to Sicily. My father’s family is from there but I’ve not visited yet.

      • Mimi.. u MUST go! even by Italian standards, Sicily is really special and the food is amazing. there is a good netflix documentary (chef’s table) about Caffè Sicilia in Noto, owned by super pastry chef Corrado Assenza. The next best thing would be to buy the old Mary Tyler Simeti’s book (if u don’t have it yet) and cook IT from A to Z.

        NIGELLISSIMA: good book from a clever woman – her personal take of Italian food that still feels pretty authentic.. and yes, pesto alla trapanese is remarkable
        ciao, stefano

  3. You are so right – what cute little pasta twirls! :) And what a fabulous sauce you put together. Looks quite complementary to the pasta.

  4. Pesto alla trapanese is listed as a traditional Italian food product (P.A.T.) by the Ministry of Agricultural, Food and Forestry Policies no less !
    Love Nigella to bits, chef Mimi, and I am sure your pasta recipe is delicious so am not questoning that. But I do, yes, want to point out that il pesto trapanese has nothing to do with Tunisia and with Genoa instead. And that it does not contemplate raisins or anchovies or, shudder for a Sicilian, parmesan (I suppose we could think of this as a vegan recipe). If any cheese is to be added it would be the local Sicilian pecorino. Repeat: do not want to draw away from your recipe one iota, variety is the spice of life and all that, and people can eat what they jolly well like.
    But when it comes to nomenclature and Italian cuisine the Italian in me likes the name of a recipe to reflect what that recipe is supposed to be like. I admit that I am a bit ‘prissy’. I realise, also, that this ‘prissiness’ is often difficult for non-Italians to understand so I hope I haven’t irritated you too much. It’s not that I am a bitch, it’s that I like things to be known. (It’s a bit like when non-Italians order a cappuccino at the end of a meal. Italians find that truly perplexing. Because cappuccino is basically a breakfast drink. It’s a cultural ‘thing’, not a food ingredient thing. And expats or tourists visiting Italy can’t understand why it should be verboten, to them a cappuccino to finish off a meal seems totally appropriate. It took me many years but I finally came up with a metaphor that goes something like this. If one had a perfectly good three-course meal including dessert, would it be ‘normal’ to be served a bowl of breakfast cereal to finish off said meal? Something like that …. ). Buona giornata Mimi! :)

  5. I totally know what you mean about fun pasta shapes, Mimi! In fact, I have a pantry full of unique pastas…whenever I stumble across one, I grab it and then figure out later how to actually use it. I don’t believe I’ve come across trottole before, but I will definitely keep an eye out for it now! Sounds like a delicious dish!

    • Exactly! Different pasta shapes are just so much fun. This sauce is really good – you should try it if you’re comfortable with all of the ingredients. (I know anchovies freak some people out!)

    • No, a friend of my daughter’s did it as a design for notepads years ago when they were in college. When I started my blog I asked her if I could use it for my blog. I have the same little black dog, but I asked her to add bangs to my hair!!! Thanks!

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