However you spell it, corzetti are delicious, and were traditionally served with a meat sauce, Mr. Picetti said, but now are more likely to be served with a basil pesto or a pine nut sauce.
A banker for 35 years, Mr. Picetti has been hand-carving these beautiful pasta tools for the last 20 years, resurrecting a lost art and a form of pasta that was almost relegated to history.
Three hundred years ago, he said, every family had its own stamp, and noble families had theirs imprinted with the family coat of arms.
The pasta shape is older than that however, since documents in the archives in Genoa attest to the presence of corzetti at a banquet held for the king of Morocco in 1362. But through the centuries, the custom was lost, even in Mr. Picetti’s home town of Varese Ligure, where the local people had nearly forgotten what corzetti were, he said.
Mr. Picetti owns several corzetti stamps that hail back to past generations of his family, including his great grandfather’s. He even owns one dating back to 1700.
The wood used is either pear, chestnut or beech and the designs are as varied as Mr. Picetti’s imagination. Some are traditional, but others spring from his mind and hands as he’s working the wood.
His customers come from around the globe, including Kazakhstan, Australia, and Korea – at least 50 countries around the world.
Some are special requests, such as restaurants who have a personal emblem, or companies that want their logo imprinted on the stamp. He’s had requests for logo designs of international companies like Alfa Romeo and Trussardi.
I asked Mr. Picetti to make one using my blog name, and this is what arrived in the mail three weeks after I visited his workshop:
Mr. Picetti doesn’t own business cards. Instead, he said, his business card is his corzetti stamp, with his signature printed on the underside of the cutting edge. By the way, never wash the stamp with water, he advised, but just wipe clean with a dishtowel.
I’ve already put my newly purchased stamp to work a couple of times since I got back from Italy less than 10 days ago. After you cut out the circles with the sharper edge, take one of the pasta disks and place it between the imprinting sections, then press hard. The dough needs to be soft, but covered with a light dusting of flour so it won’t stick to the wood.
Another day, I took the stamp to my dad’s, (and I gave him one of his own too) and we set to work making the recipe included with the stamp. It’s an unusual recipe, to me at least, because when I make pasta, I use only flour and eggs, or only flour and water, but never flour, water and eggs, as Mr. Picetti’s recipe calls for. But I followed the recipe and the dough came out perfectly. (However his lack of measurement in the recipe that includes “a glass of water” left me wondering exactly how big that glass would be.)
The recipe made a lot, and I forgot to count the total amount, but I’m sure it was at least 100 corzetti. We were serving six people at my dad’s house and had plenty.
In the photo below, you can see the imprint of “Ciao Chow Linda” and the fancy design on the other side of my corzetti stamp.
We made two kinds of sauces for our pasta last week — one platter with basil pesto, and the other with pine nuts, parmigiana and butter, just like I ate in Varese Ligure. I think it’s become my new favorite pasta dressing.
Click on the video below and listen to Mr. Picetti speak about corzetti.
For more about corzetti, visit Adri Barr Crocetti’s terrific food blog. She’s written extensively about them and is a great source on all things corzetti. Click here t
o view one of her posts on corzetti.
And if you can’t get to Mr. Picetti’s workshop, you can order a corzetti stamp from Artisanal Pasta Tools in California. Click here
for their website.
And finally, a big thank you to Pamela Sheldon Johns, for sharing lunch with me in Liguria, and for leading me to Pietro Picetti. Click here
for more information on her B&B in Tuscany and here for her culinary tours in Italy.
Printable recipe here
Corzetti Dough (Mr. Picetti’s recipe – he says it’s enough for four people, but that would have to be four very hungry people because it makes at least 100 corzetti)
600 grams flour (about 4 cups)
1 glass of salted water (about 8 oz., but don’t dump it all in at once)
Mix the flour eggs and half of the water in a food processor. Turn on the processor and slowly add enough water until you get a soft dough. Remove it from the processor and knead it on the counter until it feels smooth. Cover and let rest for at least 20 minutes. (Alternately, mix by hand by putting the flour into a bowl or on a kitchen counter. Create a “well” and crack the eggs into the center, beating them with a fork and blending them into the flour, adding the water, a bit at a time. Continue kneading for several minutes until the dough is smooth, then let it rest for about 20 minutes).
Run the dough through a pasta machine (or roll by hand) until the dough is thin, but not so thin that it falls apart when pressed on the stamp. Cut out circles using the sharpest edge of the stamp, then place the circle of dough on the stamp and press down.
Cook the corzetti in boiling salted water for about six or seven minutes, and top with sauce and parmigiano cheese.
Pine Nut Sauce (adapted from Mr. Picetti’s recipe – enough for four people)
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/2 clove garlic (optional)
a couple of sprigs of fresh marjoram or fresh oregano
4 T. butter
a few tablespoons of milk, if necessary
Place the pine nuts, garlic and marjoram into a small chopper or food processor. Blend until crushed. Melt the butter in a saucepan, then add the pine nut mixture. If necessary, thin it out with some milk.
Toss with the pasta, and sprinkle with parmesan cheese.