Thursday, May 5, 2011

Trottoli, An Unusual Pasta

I found an unfamiliar pasta at the Jewel called trottoli and bought a bag on a whim. It's a big spindle-shaped curlicue, and doesn't appear in Hidebrand and Kennedy's the Geometry of Pasta, my go-to resource for unfamiliar pasta, so I tried to figure it out on my own. Most big pastas are suited to baking al forno or serving in a big basin with heavy ragu or other substantial, chunky sauce, but this one is dfferent. It's big but doesn't have a large cavity, just a capacious spiral, so I thought it would go well with a rich but smooth sauce, which would get trapped in its crevice. Each noodle is big enough to be stabbed individually with a fork, so I imagined that each of them could carry enough sauce to be a balanced bite of texture and flavor.

I boiled the pasta and made a sauce by sweating finely chopped celery, onion and garlic in butter, then adding some white wine and the packing liquid (tomato juice) from a can of San Marzano tomatoes. I reduced it all down to a fairly dense paste, then added the pasta and a little of the pasta water. Cooking the pasta in the sauce for the last couple of minutes, tossing frequently, I was able to get the sauce to fill the crevices of the noodle just as I had hoped.

I plated the trottoli with a little chopped tarragon and mint, then grated some parmigiano and scattered some finely chopped almonds and finished with a little olive oil and sea salt. Trottoli are a really cool pasta and I'm pretty sure I'll use them more. They're big enough to entertain your mouth individually* and when you bite into them the sauce trapped inside gushes onto your tongue and seems to amplify the flavors in the sauce. Because each trottolo (?) is so substantial chopped nuts and crunchy sea salt work well by adhering to the outside in contrast with the vegetal sauce trapped in the noodle itself.

I think I'm going to try trottoli with a cheese sauce or some kind of veloute-based sauce next. I just need to figure out a flavor profile that suits this sort of delivery. (vg)

That's what she said.


  1. Hey Albini

    Here's some orecchiete I made after watchin' a bunch of nonnas do it on youtube. And after buying a copy of Oretta Zanini de Vita's book, "The Encyclopedia of Pasta," which I highly recommend as a companion to the Geometry of Pasta.

  2. Trottoli is probably my favorite pasta. It's oddly elegant, and a great noodle for heavy sauce. It's a little too hard to find, though Safeway sells it, which is convenient.


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