Making fresh pasta in Liguria is practically an art. Fresh pasta differs from dry pasta because it’s homemade from scratch and it’s sometimes also made with eggs. Here are the most famous examples of typical fresh Ligurian pasta.
Trofie is a type of short pasta with a particular elongated twisted shape which is normally combined with pesto sauce and fish sauces.
Trenette is instead a type of long pasta, similar to fettuccine, and can be found on the market in the fresh or dry variant.
It is called so because trenna means string in dialect and it is like a long-squashed spaghetti with a rectangular section and it is of medium thickness. According to tradition, the best way to have them is to dress them with potatoes, green beans and pesto and this version of pesto, with these added ingredients, it’s called ‘advantaged pesto.’
Then we have the Pansotti, triangular fresh pasta stuffed with herbs and quagliata, a typical cheese similar to ricotta.
Pansotti nowadays are made in many versions with chards, herbs, spinach and sometimes ricotta is used because quagliata cheese is hard to find. Traditionally over 14 different local herbs were used to stuff such ‘ravioli’.
They are usually cooked in a simple butter and sage sauce or often with walnut sauce.
We also have the Croxetti, round egg pasta medallions, cut and decorated with particular symbols that once represented the family coat of arms. Noble families had their own metal stamps to create such pasta so each family had its pasta to offer to their guests.
Tagliolini are similar to trenette, they are a type of long pasta and they probably represent the most popular Ligurian pasta shape amongst the Genoese. Tagliolini are very long strips of white dough and traditionally they are served with the tuccu (touch in Genoese dialect), a classic Ligurian meat sauce, or at times with the classic delicious pesto.
Homemade egg pasta
There is also a super thin version of the tagliolini which is called fidelini, often eaten in a broth. According to an ancient recipe, fidelini are delicious cooked in broth with whitebait.
Mandilli de Saea is a type of egg pasta which comes from the Arabic mandil. They are often referred to as ‘silk handkerchiefs’ because they are very thin layers of square lasagnas.
Mandilli de Saea (at the restaurant)
Due to the fragility that distinguishes them, today they are quite rare to find, because they should be served a few at a time, seconds after cooking and drained very rapidly and seasoned with pesto.
Picagge pasta is also very popular and they exist in two main versions: borage or chestnut.
The green version is obtained by adding boiled borage to the dough and traditionally they are seasoned with the tuccu meat sauce. The chestnut version is made with chestnut flour instead.
Most of these aforementioned fresh pastas are found in local delis here in Liguria and it’s common to reserve the amount of pasta you need in advance and pick it up the day you need it. The same delis often sell the homemade sauces or they can be easily made at home or bought at the supermarket.
Personally, I usually make the sauce but not the pasta since I don’t have a pasta maker to work the pasta at home.