Trenette al Pesto Inspired by Luca

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Luca is one of those movies that makes you want to hop on a plane and travel to Italy.

Luca is one of those movies that instantly transports you to the enchanting beauty of Italy. The picturesque town of Portorosso, inspired by the real-life seaside cities on the coast of Cinque Terre, captivates viewers with its charm. The film follows the incredible journey of two young sea monsters who discover the magic of being human, embark on a thrilling adventure, and even compete in an annual bike race to fulfill their dreams.

As someone who recently returned from Italy, the cravings for authentic pasta are off the charts! I’ll be sharing more about my Italian adventure soon, so stay tuned. In the meantime, I couldn’t resist the countless requests on TikTok to recreate the mouthwatering pasta dish from Luca – the famous Trenette al Pesto.

What’s wrong with you, stupido!

Trenette al pesto is a real-life recipe originating from the Liguria region of north-western Italy. While the pasta itself can only be called “trenette” if it comes from this specific region (similar to how “real” Champagne must come from Champagne, France), you can easily find similar pasta shapes like linguini or fettuccine in stores worldwide.

The dish is traditionally served with boiled golden potatoes, green beans, and a vibrant green pesto sauce, creating a symphony of flavors that perfectly embodies the essence of Italian cuisine.

In the movie Luca, Giulia brings Alberto and Luca back to her house where her father is preparing the classic dish. However, because this is the boys first full day in the human town they have no idea how to actually eat the pasta. Alberto digs in with his hands first and discovers the pasta is DELICIOUS – and Luca follows his lead.

They do eventually learn how to use forks to eat pasta, don’t worry.

Here’s What You’ll Need

Italian food thrives on simplicity and the use of fresh, locally sourced ingredients that harmonize to create extraordinary dishes. Italians take pride in their cuisine, utilizing the best produce from the bountiful lands they call home. If you can’t make it to Italy, fear not! Seek out the freshest ingredients from local farmers’ markets or nearby sources, and you’ll be well on your way to an authentic Italian culinary experience.

If you have access to one, find the freshest ingredients at farmers markets or buy locally – you won’t regret it!

For the Pesto:

  • Fresh basil: Provides the main flavor and aroma in the pesto sauce.
  • Whole garlic cloves: Adds a pungent and aromatic element to the pesto sauce.
  • Pine nuts: Offers a nutty flavor and adds richness to the pesto sauce.
  • Romano cheese: Imparts a tangy and slightly salty taste to enhance the overall flavor.
  • Parmesan cheese: Adds a nutty and savory element to complement the other ingredients.
  • Olive oil: Helps blend the ingredients together and creates a smooth consistency in the pesto sauce.
  • Salt: Enhances the flavors of all the ingredients and balances the overall taste.

For the Pasta

  • Trenette or linguini pasta: Serves as the base of the dish, providing a satisfying texture and vehicle for the sauce.
  • Potatoes: Adds a hearty element to the dish, providing additional texture and substance.
  • Green beans: Contributes a fresh and crisp texture to the dish, providing a vibrant and nutritious component.

The Perfect Pesto

To begin, we need to prepare the star of the show – the pesto sauce. Take out a chilled food processor and blade. The cold temperature helps preserve the vibrant green color of the basil leaves. Add whole basil leaves, pine nuts, fresh garlic, coarse salt, and a generous amount of freshly grated Romano and Parmesan cheeses to the food processor. Be careful not to miss any chunks of rind!

Now, it’s time to add the essential ingredient that brings it all together – olive oil. Start by pouring in about half a cup of olive oil to help blend the basil and other ingredients. Once the mixture is chunky, gradually pour in the remaining olive oil while the food processor is still running. This will result in an incredibly smooth pesto sauce.

Preparing the Potatoes and Green Beans

Now, let’s focus on the accompaniments to our pasta. Salt some water and bring it to a boil. Add golden potatoes and cook them for a few minutes until they are just beginning to soften. Next, toss in the green beans and bring the water back to a rolling simmer. Cook until the beans are crisp and the potatoes are fork-tender. Once done, remove the beans and potatoes from the water and set them aside to prevent further cooking.

Pasta Preparation:

Now it’s time to cook our pasta. Add the fettuccine noodles to the pot and watch as they gracefully drop into the water. While the pasta cooks, take a measuring cup and remove about a cup of pasta water. Pour this water into the pesto sauce and give it a quick blend to achieve a pourable consistency. Although this step may seem mundane, it is crucial in bringing all the flavors together.

Once the pasta noodles reach the desired al dente texture, strain them but avoid rinsing. Return the noodles to the pot, now with the heat reduced to low. Add the previously cooked potatoes and green beans back into the pot, creating a colorful medley of ingredients.

Bringing It All Together

Finally, it’s time to unite the flavors. Pour the luscious pesto sauce over the cooked noodles, potatoes, and green beans. Give everything a good stir, ensuring the sauce evenly coats each ingredient.

The result is a harmonious combination of fresh basil, tangy flavors, and the nuttiness of pine nuts and olive oil.

Tips for Making the Pasta from Luca

Still have a Bruno in your head? These tips and tricks may come in handy!

  • Blending pesto in a chilled food processor: Chilling the food processor and blade helps maintain the vibrant green color of the basil and prevents the sauce from heating up during blending.
  • Cooking potatoes and green beans: Be careful not to overcook the potatoes and green beans, as they should retain some firmness and snap. Keep an eye on them and test for doneness to avoid them becoming too soft.
  • Reserving pasta water: Saving some pasta water before draining is a useful technique. It can be added to the pesto sauce to adjust the consistency and help the sauce adhere better to the pasta.
  • Blending pesto to a smooth consistency: Blend the pesto sauce until it reaches a smooth and creamy consistency. If needed, you can adjust the thickness by adding a bit more olive oil or reserved pasta water.
  • Tossing pasta with pesto: When combining the pasta, potatoes, and green beans with the pesto sauce, toss gently to ensure even distribution of the sauce without breaking the pasta or mashing the other ingredients.
  • Serving and enjoying: Trenette al pesto is best served immediately to enjoy its flavors at their peak. Feel free to garnish with additional grated cheese or fresh basil leaves for extra visual appeal.
  • Experiment with variations: Don’t be afraid to personalize the recipe by adding your own twist. You can incorporate additional ingredients like cherry tomatoes, toasted pine nuts, or grilled chicken for added texture and flavor.
  • Troubleshooting tip: Adjusting consistency: If the pesto sauce is too thick, you can add a splash of olive oil or reserved pasta water to thin it out. On the other hand, if it’s too thin, blend in some extra basil leaves, cheese, or pine nuts to thicken it.
  • Troubleshooting tip: Adjusting seasoning: Taste the pesto sauce before combining it with the pasta and adjust the seasoning as needed. Add more salt, garlic, or cheese to suit your taste preferences.
  • Storage and leftovers: If you have any leftovers, store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator. The pesto sauce may darken slightly due to oxidation, but it will still be safe to consume. Reheat gently or enjoy it cold as a pasta salad.

Trenette al Pesto is a culinary masterpiece that embodies the spirit of Italian cuisine. With its vibrant colors, fresh ingredients, and delightful flavors, it is no wonder that this dish captured the imaginations of characters like Luca and Alberto. The simplicity of this dish, coupled with the intensity of flavors, is truly a feast for the senses.

As you embark on your culinary adventures, consider exploring other fictional feasts that have left a lasting impression. What dishes from your favorite books or movies would you like to recreate? Share your ideas in the comments below or leave a suggestion over on TikTok and let your imagination run wild in the kitchen!

Now, gather your ingredients, embrace the aromatic basil, and get ready to savor the exquisite flavors of Trenette al Pesto. Buon appetito!

Trenette al Pesto Inspired by Luca

The Starving Chef
A delightful combination of tender pasta, creamy pesto sauce, golden potatoes, and crisp green beans, reminiscent of the flavors that captivated Luca and Alberto's taste buds in their Italian adventures.
No ratings yet
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Course Copycat Recipes, Fictional Feasts
Cuisine Italian, Movies, Pasta
Servings 4



  • 2 cups fresh basil leaves
  • ¼ cup pine nuts
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • ¼ cup fresh Romano cheese grated
  • ¾ cup fresh Pamesan cheese grated
  • 6-8 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt


  • 4 servings linguine
  • 2-4 golden potatoes chopped
  • 1 cup green beans snapped into half inch pieces
  • 1 cup reserved pasta water
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt


  • Chill the food processor and blade in the freezer for at least 30 minutes prior to blending the pesto for best results. Prep the potatoes and green beans during this time.
  • Place the basil, garlic, pine nuts, Parmesan, Romano, salt, and half of the olive oil into the food processor and begin blending. Slowly pour the remaining olive oil into the food processor as it is running to get the pesto to a smooth consistency. Place the bowl of the food processor with the blade still in place in the fridge while making the pasta.
  • Bring a large pot of water to a rolling simmer. Add the sea salt to the water. Once boiling, add the potatoes and cook for 5-6 minutes or until just beginning to lose their firmness.
  • Add the green beans to the pot with the potatoes and continue to simmer for another 3-4 minutes or until the green beans are tender but retain some of their snap.
  • Remove the cooked green beans and potatoes from water with a sieve and set aside.
  • In the same water, add the pasta and cook according to the instructions on the box for al dente pasta. About halfway through, use a measuring cup to reserve about 1 cup of the water.
  • Remove the food processor from the fridge and reattach it to the base. Pour the reserved pasta water into the food processor while blending on low speed. Blend until the pesto is smooth.
  • Drain the pasta and return it to the pot along with the potatoes and green beans. Reduce the temperature to medium-low. Pour the pesto sauce over the pasta and gently toss to coat everything in the pesto evenly.
  • Serve right away – and eat with your hands if you're a sea monster. Enjoy!
Keyword basil, Parmesan, pasta, pesto, potatoes
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