Trofie al Pesto with Cinque Terre DOC #ItalianFWT

Fond memories of hiking in the Cinque Terre

We loved hiking in the Cinque Terre!

Fond Memories of Cinque Terre
Two years ago, we had a lovely visit to the Cinque Terre, a series of 5 towns on the Italian Riviera in Liguria. We’re fondly remembering our visit with our Italian Food, Wine & Travel group today. Join our group as we virtually explore the region, scroll down further in this post to see what my fellow Italophiles have dreamed up!

The real thing: trofie (pasta) al pesto, handmade pesto, handmade trofie pasta in the Cinque Terre

The real thing: trofie (pasta) al pesto, handmade pesto, handmade trofie pasta in the Cinque Terre

Liguria – Home of the World’s Best Pesto
Genoa, the major port city in Liguria claims to be the original source and still world champion of the sauce we know as pesto. To hold claim to their title, they host a Pesto World Championship regularly, complete with coverage from the Wall Street Journal!

Fresh and bright green, yum!

Easy to make your own Pesto

Pesto, of course, is that delicious sauce based on the simple ingredients of basil, pine nuts, parmigiano reggiano cheese, salt, and extra virgin olive oil. Perhaps best enjoyed in its’ pure form alone on pasta, it is a great way to add flavor to many other sauces and dishes.  It also freezes well, so you can make up a big batch, freeze 1/4 cup size portions and pop them into your food all winter long!

Italians may shudder, but pesto is really a method, and you can feel free to experiment with different herbs/greens, nuts and cheeses to produce your own sauce.  It won’t be Pesto, I like to think of the alternatives as “Methode Pestoise”, with a nod to our friends in Champagne, France.

One useful note: pesto is never cooked, so if you’re going to add it, you add it at the very end, after your dish has come off the stove.

A local treat in Liguria is trofie al pesto. Trofie are a hand rolled pasta with no eggs.  The dough is basically gnocchi dough, rolled into long, pencil-like shapes. See if you can find some, or just mix your pesto into whatever pasta you have available. Fresh pesto is a treat, no matter how you serve it!

Cinque Terre DOC Wines
The Cinque Terre DOC regulations allow quite a variety of wines to be produced within their “Bianco” designation.  Many are in the modern, fresh, clean, bright and refreshing mold.  There are others that explore more depth and flavor from the same grapes. Cinque Terre white blends will always be a combination of Vermentino, Bosco, and Albarola grapes.

Quite a wide variety of wines within the Cinque Terre DOC

Bisson “Marea” offers a rich, savory profile with significant depth.

Bisson “Marea” Cinque Terre DOC 2013 ($29 at South Lyndale Liquors)
Eye: Clear, deep gold color
Nose: Clean, medium intensity nose with rich, savory fruit and a touch of oxidation. I would have guessed the fermenting grape must a bit of time on the skins. Just enough to add some intrigue.
Mouth: Rich mouthfeel with savory elements. Nice acidity and a touch of tannins. Again, the slight oxidative notes showed.  Our resident orange wine hater, Julie, didn’t care for it on day 1. However, on day 2 she thought it had mellowed nicely and was enjoyable. Go figure.

Notes from the importer:

“made from a blend of several traditional local grape varieties: Bosco (60% of the blend), Vermentino (20%) and Albarola (20%). The vineyards that produce this wine are situated on south-facing slopes in the hamlet of Volastra in the town of Riomaggiore, the heart of the breathtaking Cinque Terre region. In this instance, Lugano opts to leave this cuvée on the lees for an extended period of time, respecting the old traditions of the region. The result is a full-bodied, earthy wine of immense character, almost briny, with a deeper golden tint to its color than is found in his other whites and marked by the aromas of heather, broom and juniper.”

Dinner's ready!

Dinner’s ready!

Italian Food, Wine & Travel Group visits Liguria
Take a look at what our fellow Italian fans have found for our virtual visit to Liguria.  If you see this note in time, please join our conversation on Twitter, Saturday June 4 at 10am CDT, at #ItalianFWT. Hope to see you there!


TOTAL TIME: 10-15 minutes | Serves 4-6


  • 4 bunches of fresh PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) Genoese basil, which guarantees high-quality flavor, this is equivalent to about 280 g (10 oz.) of leaves
  • 30 g (1 oz.) pine nuts
  • 50-60 g (2 oz.) aged Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 20-40 g (1.5 oz) fiore sardo cheese (Sardinian pecorino), grated
  • 1-2 garlic cloves from Vessalico (in the Ligurian province of Imperia)
  • 3 g (1 pinch) coarse salt
  • 60-80 mL (2-3 oz.) PDO extra-virgin olive oil from “Riviera Ligure”


A marble mortar and wooden pestle are the tools traditionally used to make pesto. Wash the basil leaves in cold water and dry them on a tea towel without rubbing. In a mortar, finely crush the garlic and pine nuts until they are smooth. Add a few grains of salt and the basil leaves, then pound the mixture using a light circular movement of the pestle against the sides. Repeat this process. When the basil drips bright green liquid, add the cheeses. Pour in a thin layer of olive oil, and lightly blend the ingredients. The preparation must be done as quickly as possible to avoid oxidation.

Recipe courtesy of the Genoa Pesto World Championship

Jeff’s notes:
Lazy slackers (such as yours truly) can skip the mortar and pestle and use a blender or food processor.  Use the best, freshest ingredients you can, as every ingredient shows in the finished pesto.

trofie_al_pesto_liguria_italianFWT 20160529 129

15 Responses to “Trofie al Pesto with Cinque Terre DOC #ItalianFWT”
  1. Valeriekq says:

    I have on my list to finally make pesto this summer. Great read for me to do that! We’re headed back to Liguria later this weekend for a short little break. Can’t wait to dig into some pesto and seafood!


  2. Cooking Chat says:

    Reading this makes me want to make sure I get to Cinque Terre next time I’m in Italy! Will settle for the virtual visit this time. Sounds like some good wine you found for the pesto…a head start on the orange wine theme I see!

  3. Vino Travels says:

    I love making pesto this time of year and n o better place than to be immersed in it than the Cinque Terre. Plus, it’s a yummy treat after a day of hiking there ; )

  4. Wish I had the local Ligurian protected ingredients for my pesto. Yours looks delicious!

    • The real ingredients would be fun (especially to pick them up locally in Italy!). Still, I’m with you, even grocery store fresh made is pretty darn good.

  5. This looks fantastic, Jeff. I LOVE pesto. Can’t wait to track down some of these wines.

  6. Ishita says:

    Love the post and great pictures. Always love your presentation on the food ❤

Check out what others are saying...

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