The Ligurian region of Italy lies along the border of France and is home to a very special fresh pasta called Corzetti. In this article, we will only discuss corzetti stampae, coin-like fresh pasta cut and embossed with various decorative patterns, one-by-one, using a special wooden stamping tool, itself specially hand-made by artisan wood craftsmen using both wood-turning chip carving techniques. They are typically made out of maple, or fruit woods like pear or apple. In the Genovese dialect these coin pastas are called curzetti. Making corzetti is very laborious and time consuming, and as such are typically made only during the holidays or for special occasions.
There are also a different type of Corzetti from the Val Polcevera, one of the principal valleys of the area of Genoa, that are made in "figure eight" shape and look nothing like coins.
In Latin, the word for cross is crux. Cröxe in Genovese dialect also means cross. So one might realize that the word croxetti (in Italian), might be referring to the "little cross"--gold coins that were made in the 12th century called Genovini d'0ro. It's no surprise that many refer to Crozetti as "coins".
It is also possible that during the Renaissance they were used for weddings with the coats of arms of both bride and groom, one each on either side. Some claim that one local family made corzetti to impress Maria Luigia of Borbone, just before leaving for France to marry Napoleon.
There are some very simple and traditional recipes corzetti sauces. One of the oldest sauces is from medieval times, a pesto made with marjoram, pine nuts, walnuts, olive oil and parmesan cheese. Another similar recipes uses melted butter in place of olive oil, and places the ingredients in the hot pan rather than mashing into a pesto. Here is another fantastic sauce made using walnuts...
Sugo di noci
1 ½ cups chopped walnuts
1 medium size clove garlic
1/2 cup of fresh ciabatta bread, cubed, soaked in a bit of milk, then squeezed nearly dry.
1/4 cup fresh marjoram leaves
3 -4 tablespoons grated Parmigiano Reggiano
1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
a pinch of salt
Run all the ingredients in a blender until smooth, with some texture remaining.
This sauce can be used as any pesto, tossing with the pasta. If you like, you can also place the sauce into a large saute pan and heat along with the corzetti.
The ingredients for the pasta are for 4 persons.
3 1/3 cups all purpose flour.
5 egg yolks
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup of white wine
I hope you take the time to make corzetti for your next special event or holiday meal. Let us know how it turned out!