Cinque Terre, Corzetti, Corzetti with mushroom and walnut sauce, Italian cooking, Liguria, Pasta, Pasta fatta a mano, Pesto Genovese, Printmaking
Corzetti (cor∙ZET∙ti) are a traditional pasta of Liguria, also called croxetti (cro∙shet∙ti) or crosetti in Ligurian. Corzetti are an embossed pasta shaped to look like gold coins. The name comes from ‘crux’, latin for cross. They have been around for a very long time. We know this because the Republic of Genoa had a medieval coin with a Genovese cross and there is a 1362 literary reference to pasta with crossetti served at a banquet.
Corzetti are made with un stampo per corzetti- a corzetti stamp. This is a 2 part device made of unfinished wood-usually pear wood. The textured finish of the wood is functional-it transfers to the pasta and helps hold sauce, as does the embossed design. The bottom of the lower half is used to cut the circles. The top of the lower piece and the upper piece with the handle for pressing each have a carved design.
Corzetti are like edible woodcut prints! The perfect pasta for a printmaker. This must be why I like making them so much!
If you read the posts Le Cinque Terre and Exploring le Cinque Terre, you may remember my determined quest to find a corzetti stamp. In Corniglia, I found dried corzetti for sale, but no stamp. I did not notice any restaurants serving them either, but I also did not look very hard. I finally found a stamp by accident in a tiny shop in Vernazza, the town where we were staying. They were in a basket at the back, where no one could see them!
The design on my stamp is a stem of wheat, with a swirl on the other side. It cost 11 Euro and was carved by a local fisherman. I saw a similar one online for $72 US. You can also custom order stamps but they can be very expensive. It is much more fun to buy something like this where it is produced.
Noble Ligurian families had their family coat of arms engraved on the stamps. Designs also include crosses, wheat, gigli (fleur de Lis) or the emblem of il pastaio, the pastamaker.
Circles are cut on a freshly rolled sfoglia or pasta sheet-not too thick, but thick enough to hold the embossing. Each corzetto is pressed between the 2 parts of the stamp, embossing a design on each side. If the pasta is rolled out too thin, the designs will transfer to the other side.
Corzetti dough is traditionally made with eggs and white wine. It is usually made with flour and semola rimacinata di grano duro (called semolina in North America) or chestnut flour. Traditionally, corzetti are served with pesto or olive oil, herbs and pine nuts. They can also be served with an herb and scallop or mushroom walnut sauce. I have made corzetti several times now, and here is the dough combination I found works the best:
To make Corzetti:
200g (1.5 cups) 00 or All-Purpose flour
200g (1.5 cups) semola rimacinata (Semolina)
3 medium sized eggs plus 2 yolks-add an extra egg if they are small
60ml dry white wine (1/4 cup)
5ml (1 tsp) Extra virgin olive oil
Pinch of salt
Make a well with the flours on a wooden board. Place the eggs, wine and EVOO in the center and beat with a fork, then slowly start to mix in the flour. This dough needs to be soft and elastic to hold the embossing and you may not need all of the flour. Keep some to the side in case it is not needed. Once the mixture is less liquid, start to mix by hand. Knead for 10 minutes. Roll into a ball, cover and let rest for 30 min.
Use half the dough at a time, and keep the other half from drying out by covering with an upturned bowl. Roll the dough out by hand 3mm thick. You can use a pasta machine, but hand rolling will result in a better embossing. Lightly flour the corzetti stamp. Cut circles as close together as possible. Pasta rolled out multiple times will not be consistent thickness and will dry out, and not take the embossing as well. Stand up while pressing down firmly on the top of the stamp with the palm of the hand to get the best quality embossing. This makes 60-65 corzetti.
I like to serve corzetti with a traditional Pesto Genovese. This mushroom walnut sauce is also yummy.
Corzetti con Funghi e Noce / Corzetti with Mushrooms and Walnuts
200g porcini mushrooms or mixed mushrooms in season
1 onion, 1 carrot, 1 celery stalk
2 cloves garlic
Prezzemolo (Italian parsley)
200 g (~3/4 cup) walnuts shelled
30g (2 tablespoons) pine nuts
Dry white wine
Finely chop everything except the pine nuts.
Make a soffritto-Fry the onion in olive oil, add carrot and celery, half of the garlic and the pine nuts
In another pan, fry the mushrooms (these can be finely chopped or just separate the tops and bottoms) then add the soffritto. Add wine and cook for 30 min.
Before serving, add salt, the rest of the garlic, and prezzemolo
Cook corzetti in boiling salted water for 3-4 min. Add mushroom sauce and sprinkle with the chopped walnuts and grated Parmigiano Reggiano.
Want to try making corzetti, but don’t have a stamp? Cut circles out with a 5cm (2 inch) diameter drinking glass. Use a cookie press for the design, or find something that can be lightly pressed to make a design in the dough-a wax seal, a ring, the crosshatch design on your meat tenderizer….. get creative!
It is hard to believe I was in Liguria 11 months ago. Since we can not travel there-or anywhere at this time, I hope this helps you viaggiare in pultrona… armchair travel to the coast of Liguria and the Cinque Terre. Buon viaggio and stay safe, Cristina