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 sauce that I made once and fell in love with!

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 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!!!



By Published On: June 14th, 201873 Comments on Trottole Trapanese

About the Author: Chef Mimi

As a self-taught home cook, with many years in the culinary profession, I am passionate about all things food-related. Especially eating!


  1. Marisa's Italian Kitchen June 14, 2018 at 8:02 AM - Reply

    I love cooking with a variety of pasta shapes! This is one I haven’t tried but will rectify soon! The pesto trapanese looks absolutely delicious and makes a perfect summertime meal!

    • chef mimi June 14, 2018 at 11:45 AM - Reply

      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.

  2. The sauce sounds incredible, love the sultanas and almonds with anchovies and capers. A must try! Thank you.

    • chef mimi June 14, 2018 at 11:45 AM - Reply

      You definitely must. You’ll be so happy!

  3. jenniferguerrero1 June 14, 2018 at 8:55 AM - Reply

    Thanks for posting this! I love Nigella, but don’t have this book. The sweet salty pairing of anchovies and sultanas sounds wonderful.

    • chef mimi June 14, 2018 at 10:20 AM - Reply

      You MUST try it!!!

  4. Angie Schneider June 14, 2018 at 9:11 AM - Reply

    What a delicious pasta dish! The twirly pasta looks pretty cool and that sauce is perfect.

    • chef mimi June 14, 2018 at 10:11 AM - Reply

      It’s better than perfect – out of this world!!!

  5. Tasty Eats Ronit Penso June 14, 2018 at 9:34 AM - Reply

    Great to learn about another type of pasta. Love the sauce ingredients. :)

    • chef mimi June 14, 2018 at 10:11 AM - Reply

      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!)

      • Tasty Eats Ronit Penso June 14, 2018 at 11:42 AM

        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. :)

  6. fatsochef June 14, 2018 at 9:47 AM - Reply

    So hunting down this cute pasta!!!!!

    • chef mimi June 14, 2018 at 10:10 AM - Reply

      Hope you find it!!!

  7. Craving4More June 14, 2018 at 10:14 AM - Reply

    I must find that pasta! I love that it’s the curliest and twirliest of all :-)

    • chef mimi June 14, 2018 at 10:19 AM - Reply

      And it really held its shape!

  8. The flavor is this pasta dish sounds amazing! We eat tons of rotini around here, but I’m hoping I can find some trotolle so I can make it with this dish!

    • chef mimi June 14, 2018 at 11:46 AM - Reply

      Just try the sauce with rotini – you’ll just love its uniqueness!

  9. Our Growing Paynes June 14, 2018 at 11:30 AM - Reply

    I wouldn’t consider parmesan and pepper flakes optional! :) This looks delicious.

    • chef mimi June 14, 2018 at 11:46 AM - Reply

      Me, neither.

  10. Darya June 14, 2018 at 11:38 AM - Reply

    Trapanese pesto is my favorite. Lovely recipe!

    • chef mimi June 14, 2018 at 11:47 AM - Reply

      You’re the first person I’ve come across who’s had it! So incredible.

      • Darya June 14, 2018 at 2:05 PM

        Oh yes I even posted something “vaguely” inspired on the blog waaaay back when I just started. It is a great dish

  11. Linda June 14, 2018 at 12:18 PM - Reply

    What a cute little noodle! And the sauce you topped it with sounds yummy! :)

    • chef mimi June 14, 2018 at 12:29 PM - Reply

      It’s really extraordinary. You should try it!

      • Linda June 14, 2018 at 5:01 PM

        I just might! 😁

  12. Karin, theaustriandish June 14, 2018 at 12:37 PM - Reply

    The sauce sounds tasty – I only need some anchovy, then I can start :)

    • chef mimi June 14, 2018 at 12:39 PM - Reply

      Buy some! You must try this sauce. I’ve made it at least four times, and I rarely make the same thing twice. It’s that good. Of course, I can’t make it for my husband because he doesn’t like anchovies.

  13. I am going to make this sauce soon, it reminds me a little of a romesco sauce I absolutely love and make all the time.

    • chef mimi June 14, 2018 at 3:19 PM - Reply

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

      • Gerlinde de Broekert (Sunnycovechef) June 14, 2018 at 10:18 PM

        I just made it for dinner and it is absolutely delicious. Since there is only two of us I used half the noodles ( Garo Galo Italian pasta ) but I followed the recipe for the sauce. It made three generous servings.

      • chef mimi June 17, 2018 at 9:41 AM

        I’m so glad you tried it. It’s so unique and addicting! I ate some leftovers cold even!

  14. camparigirl June 14, 2018 at 6:49 PM - Reply

    I am trying this sauce! Perfect for Summer, keeping heat to a minimum. Thank you. I cannot believe I am discovering through you, via Nigella!

    • chef mimi June 14, 2018 at 7:23 PM - Reply

      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!)

  15. Jodi June 14, 2018 at 7:03 PM - Reply

    Oh yum. And some absolutely beautiful food photography Mimi!

    • chef mimi June 14, 2018 at 7:22 PM - Reply

      Oh that’s so sweet Jodi! Thank you!

  16. Tandy | Lavender and Lime June 14, 2018 at 10:55 PM - Reply

    Love the pasta shape. We are off to Sicily in September so I’m sure Dave will try the trapanese while we are there.

    • chef mimi June 15, 2018 at 6:53 AM - Reply

      It’s not your cup of tea, so to speak?!!

  17. Bill June 15, 2018 at 4:18 AM - Reply

    Sounds so good. Looking forward to trying that sauce.

    • chef mimi June 15, 2018 at 6:54 AM - Reply

      Incredible is an understatement.

  18. Emma June 15, 2018 at 4:24 AM - Reply

    I am loving the idea of a no cook sauce, it means it gets in my stomach quicker!

    • chef mimi June 15, 2018 at 6:54 AM - Reply

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

  19. June 15, 2018 at 12:27 PM - Reply

    You love different pasta shapes as much as I do! The sauce sounds really flavorful and no-cook is perfect for summer.

    • chef mimi June 15, 2018 at 2:02 PM - Reply

      It is perfect for summer. I even ate leftovers cold!

  20. StefanGourmet June 15, 2018 at 4:47 PM - Reply

    The trottole look like a shortened version of busiate. The pesto alla trapanese I know does not include anchovies, but there are always many varations of traditional Italian recipes. You had seen pesto alla trapanese before on a blog:

    • chef mimi June 15, 2018 at 9:18 PM - Reply

      No, I hadn’t! I think I would have remembered it. I’ll check it out !

    • chef mimi June 17, 2018 at 9:40 AM - Reply

      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?

  21. David June 15, 2018 at 7:50 PM - Reply

    I hope I see trottole in Sicily this fall!

    • chef mimi June 17, 2018 at 9:37 AM - Reply

      I hope you can eat the pesto Trapanese!

  22. Jeff the Chef June 16, 2018 at 9:31 AM - Reply

    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.

    • chef mimi June 16, 2018 at 9:41 AM - Reply

      Ways more going on. You should definitely try it!

  23. valentina maria kenney wein June 17, 2018 at 1:11 AM - Reply

    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!

    • chef mimi June 17, 2018 at 7:06 AM - Reply

      The sauce is so unique and exceptional. Do try it.

  24. Rotwein Wanderer June 17, 2018 at 5:15 AM - Reply

    I love pasta alla Trapanese, which I enjoyed a lot while in Trapani, Sicily. I’m sure the pasta you tried goes well with the sauce!

    • chef mimi June 17, 2018 at 7:04 AM - Reply

      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.

      • Rotwein Wanderer June 17, 2018 at 7:18 AM

        Visit the island someday and enjoy the fabulous food!

      • chef mimi June 17, 2018 at 9:35 AM

        It’s on our list!

      • stefano -italian home cooking June 19, 2018 at 8:57 AM

        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

  25. Susan@savoringtimeinthekitchen June 17, 2018 at 12:00 PM - Reply

    This pasta sauce sounds like a winner! I haven’t seen that pasta shape and hope I can find it, here.

    • chef mimi June 17, 2018 at 1:25 PM - Reply

      The pasta shape is great, but the sauce is even better!

  26. Angela Runyan June 17, 2018 at 1:53 PM - Reply

    That looks delicious! Love that pasta, it looks like it holds the sauce well.

    • chef mimi June 18, 2018 at 7:23 AM - Reply

      It definitely does. You should try the sauce!

  27. Liz Berg June 17, 2018 at 6:43 PM - Reply

    The pasta shape AND the pesto are both new to me! Sounds like one delicious meal!

    • chef mimi June 17, 2018 at 7:23 PM - Reply

      I strongly encourage you to try the sauce! Amazing.

  28. mjskit June 17, 2018 at 10:07 PM - Reply

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

    • chef mimi June 18, 2018 at 7:22 AM - Reply

      The sauce is so delicious – you should try it!

  29. myhomefoodthatsamore June 18, 2018 at 2:33 AM - Reply

    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! :)

    • chef mimi June 18, 2018 at 7:14 AM - Reply

      It’s just really good!

  30. David @ Spiced June 18, 2018 at 7:18 AM - Reply

    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!

    • chef mimi June 18, 2018 at 7:21 AM - Reply

      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!)

  31. Sherry Mackay June 18, 2018 at 7:59 PM - Reply

    looks wonderful Good ol NIgella:) BTW did you do your banner? It’s great. cheers sherry

    • chef mimi June 18, 2018 at 8:46 PM - Reply

      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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