Liguria is a verdant strip of Italy that stretches along the Italian Riviera. Green herbs, fruit and nut trees, garlic, and vegetables grow in profusion, kissed by the briny air and protected from the bitter northern winds by the mountains that form Liguria’s land borders. Flowers thrive, and the silvery leaves of olive trees glimmer in the Italian sun.
Corzetti stampati, embossed disks of tender egg dough, have been part of the region’s culinary tradition stretching back to the heyday of The Most Serene Republic of Genoa. A maritime titan, Genoa (now the capital of Liguria) grew rich through trade. Her gold and silver coins were memorialized through the two-piece wooden stamps used to make this pasta. The stamps, which both cut and imprint the pasta, are carved from neutral woods such as pear or beech, and feature images of Crusader’s crosses, the gates to the city, coats of arms, and other decorative designs, all made to order for families and cooks.
The dough itself can be made from various flours with multiple versions served together for textural and color variation. Vermentino wine and marjoram may be added to the dough, imparting true regional flavor; even the steam that rises from the pot is remarkably fragrant.
Corzetti stampati can be served with a wide array of sauces, from hearty meat creations to fresh herb pesto or the classic tocco di noxe (walnut sauce.) Here I present it with an herb-olive condimento made with Benza BuonOlio, a monocultivar (an oil made from one olive variety) pressed from Liguria’s Taggiasca olives. Fruity and silky, with a bit of spice and a whisper of pine nuts, the oil forms the perfect backdrop for the intensely flavored ingredients to come. La Nicchia Capers from the island of Pantelleria add their piquant bite. Picked by hand and packed in salt, these buds are some of the finest Italy has to offer. Meaty green Fratepietro Bella di Cerignola Olives from Puglia bring a smooth richness, while lightly toasted pine nuts, garlic, and red wine vinegar-soaked country bread complete the mix. The salsa is a marriage of two Ligurian classics, herb pesto and agliata, that pungent blend of garlic, extra virgin olive oil, and vinegar-soaked bread. This flavorful condimento, redolent of olives, vinegar, and the young herbs of springtime will transport you to Italy.
Corzetti Stampati with Herb Salsa
serves 4 as a primo
• 3 ½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
• 1 cup cold water
• 1 extra large egg
• ⅛ teaspoon fine sea salt
• Parmigiano-Reggiano at service
Make the pasta: place the flour and salt in the workbowl of a food processor fitted with steel blade. Place the egg and water in a measuring cup and beat lightly. With the processor running, add the egg mixture in a steady stream until the dough comes together, about 30 seconds. If the dough is too wet or too dry, add flour or water, as needed. Remove the dough from the processor and knead about 1 minute. Wrap in plastic and set aside for 30 minutes.
Line 2 sheet pans with clean kitchen towels and dust lightly with flour. Work with one quarter of the dough at a time, keeping the reminder wrapped. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough to 1/16th inch thickness.
Form the corzetti stampati: lightly flour the circular cutting edge of the stamp and cut disks of pasta. Lightly flour the stamp’s carved surfaces. Place one pasta disk between the two carved surfaces, and use firm downward pressure to imprint. Place the corzetti stampati on the prepared sheet pans to dry at room temperature for 30 minutes to 1 hour.
Cook the corzetti stampati: add the pasta to 6 quarts of salted, boiling water. Cook about 3 minutes, or until done. Drain, reserving the cooking water.
Dress the corzetti stampati: transfer one third of the salsa to a warmed serving bowl. Add 3 tablespoons olive oil to thin. Add the drained pasta, tossing to coat, adding more salsa, if desired. The salsa may be thinned further with pasta cooking water or olive oil. Pass Parmigiano-Reggiano at the table.
Herb Salsa with Capers and Green Olives
makes about ⅔ cup
This condimento is best made using a mortar and pestle, however a food processor fitted with the metal blade can be used.
• 1 small slice rustic white bread, crusts removed
• 1 ½ tablespoons red wine vinegar
• 1clove garlic, peeled
• ¼ teaspoon coarse sea salt
• 7-8 pitted green olives
• ¼ cup marjoram leaves
• 1 tablespoon thyme leaves
• ½ cup Italian parsley leaves
• ½ cup basil leaves
• ½ cup lightly toasted pine nuts
• 2 tablespoons La Nicchia capers, rinsed
Extra virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
Dribble the vinegar over the bread, and set aside. Place the garlic and salt in a mortar and press until smooth. Add the olives, herbs, pine nuts, and capers, pressing to form a smooth paste. Add the bread, ¼ teaspoon pepper, and ½ cup olive oil, pressing until well blended. Taste for seasoning, adding salt, vinegar or pepper, if desired.
Benza BuonOlio Extra Virgin Olive Oil, La Nicchia capers, and Green Bella di Cerignola olives are available from Gustiamo.com
Handmade corzetti stamps are available form ArtisanalPasta Tools.com
Questions? Email me at adri@AdriBarrCrocetti.com or visit AdriBarrCrocetti.com