Trenette alla carrettiera with roasted garlic inspired by Made in Sicily.

White bowl with Trenette alla carrettiera with roasted garlic--trenette pasta tossed in a tomato-garlic-herb sauce with a closeup
Trenette alla carrettiera with roasted garlic

This pasta dish is kind of a North-meets-South Italy mashup, as the trenette pasta shape originated in Genoa and Liguria, while the pasta sauce is one that is distinctly Sicilian. I went with the trenette for this particular dish because it’s been one of my favorite types to make recently; I received a trenette cutter as an early birthday present, and I just love how well it’s been working with my dough, so you’ll probably see it with some frequency in this space.

Ease of use wasn’t the only motivator for choosing this shape, however, because in Giorgio Locatelli’s header notes for his recipe in Made in Sicily he says that thicker noodles are generally preferred for this fresh sauce. Once you make it for yourself, you understand why: a thinner, more delicate noodle would never hold up to how heavy this sauce becomes despite the fact that it’s raw, but more on that in a bit.

Pasta alla carrettiera translates to truck-driver’s pasta or cart-driver’s pasta because it’s simple enough to make for a quick meal at a truck stop, but there is also some speculation that the cart-drivers before them would boil pasta at the side of the road and toss the noodles with the ready-made sauce since it doesn’t require refrigeration. Either way, it’s delicious, and it’s a fabulous way to use the last of the really good tomatoes at the farmer’s market because this sauce absolutely does them justice.

The key to this sauce is time–you want the tomatoes, garlic, herbs, olive oil, and seasonings to sit together for at least an hour so the flavors can meld. The salt specifically macerates the tomatoes,  so the longer it sits, the better it gets (at least, if you ask me). The mint, basil, and garlic all really fuse together to create this lovely perfume, and you will have to stop yourself or your spouse from trying to drink the sauce before it’s time to eat. 

Normally I would use raw garlic in a recipe like this, but roasted garlic works great and adds a little more sweetness to the dish. The addition of pecorino makes this a comforting dish without feeling heavy, and I heartily enjoyed eating this during the week as leftovers. I’m probably going to have to make it one more time before we get into the depths of fall.

White bowl with Trenette alla carrettiera with roasted garlic--trenette pasta tossed in a tomato-garlic-herb sauce in an overhead shot

Trenette alla carrettiera with roasted garlic

Adapted from Made in Sicily by Giorgio Locatelli

Serves 4-6 as a main course or light first course

  • 3 cups chopped tomatoes
  • 2 TB extra-virgin olive oil
  • 6 cloves of roasted garlic, finely chopped
  • 12 basil leaves, chiffonade
  • 8 mint leaves, chiffonade
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 lb 9-yolk pasta dough (recipe here), rested for at least 30 minutes and at room temperature
  • 3 ½ ounces/1 cup grated pecorino cheese

Special equipment: pasta machine with trenette cutter (if you don’t have that, the fettuccine setting on a standard machine will work well), parchment paper or silicone mats to rest the pasta bundles.

Make the sauce: combine the tomatoes, olive oil, garlic, basil, mint, kosher salt and black pepper to taste, stir well to combine,, and let it sit covered for at least an hour.

Make the trenette: using a bench scraper, cut a quarter of the dough and flatten with your hands until it’s a flat disc. On your pasta machine’s widest setting, roll out the dough once, fold it into a book, and then rotate it 90 degrees and roll the dough through. Repeat two more times, and then roll the dough out to setting 5 on a Marcato Atlas 150 machine. Cut the dough using the trenette or fettuccine setting, curl into a bundle, and then leave on the silicone mat or parchment paper. Repeat with the rest of the dough.

Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil, and season the water with salt. Cook the pasta for about 2-3 minutes, until the noodles float, reserving a cup of the cooking water if needed,  and drain before transferring the pasta into a large bowl. Add the sauce to the pasta and toss well to combine, adding about half of the cheese while doing so. Add a little pasta water if necessary, but there should be enough liquid from the tomatoes themselves. Serve with additional cheese immediately.

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