Carry your Easter celebration back to medieval times with corzetti. This hand-rolled, embossed pasta, named after a Genoese coin, the corzetto, for its distinctive shape, has graced tables set for holiday celebrations in Italy’s northeastern region of Liguria since at least the 14th century.
The mariner republic of Genoa has long been known for the fine art of pasta-making. Powerful merchants traded wheat far and wide across the Mediterranean Sea, and the sunshine and salty sea winds of the Ligurian port city provided prime pasta-drying conditions. Made especially for holding rich sauces, such as the other Genoese specialty, pesto, the shape earned inclusion in a 15th-century caution. Medical guide Medicinalia quam, preserved in the library of the University of Genova, advises, "One shouldn’t overindulge in the consumption of lasagne, corzetti, tagliarini, tortellini, and the like."
Aristocratic Genoese families used corzetti to showcase their status: Every noble family had a unique, elaborate hand-carved wooden stamp embossed with its signature coat of arms. Today's corzetti stamps sport designs ranging from honeybees to sea shells. Each is a two-piece tool, with one piece carved as the cutter that makes the coin shape and its flip side carved with a design. The second piece is carved as well. Together the carved sides emboss the pasta coin.
"At Monteverde, we have our own custom corzetti stamp hand-carved by Filippo Romagnoli,” says Sarah Grueneberg, chef/partner of Monteverde Restaurant & Pastificio in Chicago. “One side has cuore (heart) and the other mano (hand) to represent one of our sayings ‘traditional heart with a modern hand,’ how we like to approach our dishes at the restaurant."
"We sell these for guests to use at home,” Grueneberg says. “We’re developing a spring corzetti dish with a green-olive pistachio pesto, spring peas and butter. Something nice and delicious.”
If you can't travel to the eastern Italian Riviera, where artisans still carve custom corzetti stamps from apple, beech, maple or pear woods, you can find countless corzetti stamps online at etsy.com, or look for Romagnoli’s stamps (and recipes) at romagnolipastatools.com. If you're looking to showcase your own family emblem, Florentine Touch and the Wood Grain Gallery, both internet-based Etsy shops, offer customized corzetti stamps.
“I really love the corzetti pasta shape because you can transform a regular sheet of pasta into something totally unique with its own design," Grueneberg says. "We’ve served it in the past with duck ragu and a pecan pesto. I really love how with corzetti, you can have the perfect amount of sauce on each coin and keep it simple."
CORZETTI WITH LEMON RICOTTA SAUCE
Prep: 1 hour