Last night was one of those “too lazy to go to the store, guess I’ll make fresh pasta” nights. When this involves breaking out the pasta machine and its requisite rollers and cutters the idea that I am saving any work by avoiding the store is patently ridiculous; with a more free-form shape like corzetti, shaped with a quick pinch and press of the fingers, the labor savings are only highly dubious.
Corzetti, according to the Encyclopedia of Pasta, are a Ligurian pasta shape made from wheat flour, eggs and water. Traditional corzetti, corzetti stampato, require the use of special wooden molds that press the pasta into a disc shape with decorations, like a coin of pasta. For those of us not so fortunate as to own a Ligurian pasta stamp, there are corzetti tiae co-e die – corzetti rolled with the fingers. To form this shape, one pinches off chickpea-sized balls of dough and presses them down to the board with both index fingers to form a rough figure eight. This process works best with a partner – one person to pinch off the dough and the other to press it – I daresay this would be a good opportunity to involve a child, should you have one readily available.
I’d like to throw in a quick plug here for my preferred method for making fresh pasta dough using the food processor, which I learned from Cook’s Illustrated. It is so easy: two cups of flour in the processor pulsed to distribute evenly, add three eggs and process until a dough starts to form. Add water by the tablespoon until the grains of dough join together in a ball. Knead a couple of times on the counter, let rest 30 minutes and you’re ready to start shaping your pasta. Yes, it will make your Italian grandmother cry, but fresh pasta on a weeknight is worth it.
Assuming nobody wants to offend their Italian grandmother further, some discussion of the proper sauce for corzetti is in order. Oretta Zanini de Vita suggests corzetti are sauced “traditionally with a tomatoless sauce flavored with marjoram, or with the classic Ligurian pesto, but also with different local sauces.” Pesto was the reason I found this shape in the first place – I’ve had a tub of it sitting in the fridge since high basil season practically screaming for a quick weeknight dinner.
Lightly sauced and accompanied by bread and salad, corzetti make a satisfying meal: the roughness of the hand-shaping lends an interesting variety as well as a toothsome quality to the dish.