Giovanni Pilu's trofie alla Carlofortina (twisted pasta with tuna, tomato and basil)

Giovanni Pilu's pasta twists tossed though a tomato sauce with tuna cubes and finished with a dollop of cheese-free pesto.
Giovanni Pilu's pasta twists tossed though a tomato sauce with tuna cubes and finished with a dollop of cheese-free pesto. Photo: William Meppem

The executive chef at Sydney's Pilu at Freshwater shares a simple tuna and tomato pasta dish from a village on San Pietro, an island off the coast of Sardinia. Tip: if you don't want to make your own pasta, fusilli is a good substitute.


  • ½ quantity fresh pasta dough (see recipe below), passed through pasta machine 5 times
  • tipo 00 flour, for dusting
  • 50ml extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ brown onion, finely chopped
  • 200g yellow grape tomatoes, halved
  • salt flakes, to taste
  • fine sea salt, for pasta water
  • 300g sashimi-grade tuna, cut into 2cm cubes

Crema di basilico

  • 20 basil leaves
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 50g pine nuts
  • 100ml extra virgin olive oil
  • salt flakes, to taste


  1. Lay the pasta sheets out onto a clean, lightly floured workbench and cut into strips about 4cm long and 5mm wide. Roll each piece between the palms of your hands to form a thin spiral. Put on a tray and sprinkle lightly with flour.
  2. To make the crema di basilico, put all ingredients in a food processor and blitz until well combined and creamy. Set aside.
  3. Heat a frying pan over a medium-high heat, add oil and, when hot, cook onion until soft but not coloured. Add tomatoes and cook over a medium heat for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally and crushing the tomatoes with a wooden spoon, until the sauce thickens slightly. Season with salt.
  4. Meanwhile, bring a large saucepan of water to the boil, add fine sea salt, then the trofie and boil for about 6 minutes, until tender. Strain well, retaining some of the cooking water.
  5. Place tomato sauce over a low heat. Add pasta and toss for a minute or 2 to coat well, stir through a couple of tablespoons of reserved cooking water, adding a little more if necessary to give a glossy appearance.
  6. Remove from heat, add the tuna and toss through the pasta for about 1 minute, until the outside of the tuna just turns opaque.
  7. Serve in flat pasta bowls and top with a spoonful of crema di basilico.

Serves 6 as an entree

Fresh pasta dough

This dough is used for long pasta and shapes such as stracci (which literally means 'rags').


  • 500g tipo 00 flour
  • 2½ tablespoons fine sea salt
  • 8 egg yolks
  • 2 eggs
  • tipo 00 flour, extra, for kneading


  1. Sift flour and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer.
  2. Lightly whisk egg yolks and eggs together.
  3. Mixing with a dough hook, slowly drizzle most of the egg mixture into the flour and mix until absorbed. Then start adding remaining egg, a little at a time, to form a firm dough – you may not need it all; towards the end it doesn't take much extra liquid for the dough to become too soft.
  4. Tip the dough onto a clean, lightly floured workbench and knead with the heels of your hands for about 5 minutes, until smooth and elastic.
  5. Roll into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap and set aside for about 1 hour.

Makes about 800g

This recipe is from episode eight of Good Food's new TV show, Good Food Kitchen, screening on Channel 9 at 1pm on Saturday, November 27, or catch up on 9Now.