The Croxetti tradition and recipe from Varese Ligure

Eating Pasta is a must when visiting Italy. This culinary tradition is reinterpreted literally in every corner of the country. No small village of the most secluded countryside doesn’t have its own way of making Pasta. 

In Liguria, and mainly in the eastern RivieraCroxetti, or Corzettiare small circles of Pasta in the shape of a medallion. A design is embossed in their dough with a wooden mold. In the old town, even today, it is possible to find ancient shops that produce the essential molds to prepare Croxetti at home.

The Croxetti Pasta was meant as a show to a diner of the host’s wealth and status.

The croxetti or corzetti rose to the Genoa Republic chronicles for the first time in the last years of 1700. They appeared on the menu of an official lunch organized for the ambassadors of Morocco.

But it was already there in the Renaissance when noblemen started to have their crest embossed in fresh Pasta. Even today, in some parts of Liguria, the use survives to prepare the croxetti with the couple’s initials on the occasion of weddings. The Genoese name “cruxettu” derives from the stylized image of a small cross (“cruxetta”) with which one of the two sides of these medallions was initially decorated.

The Pasta was meant as a display of the wealth and status of a host to the diner.

The pasta was meant as a display of wealth and status of a host to the diner

Il nome genovese “cruxettu” deriva dall’immagine stilizzata di una piccola croce (“cruxetta”) con cui uno dei due lati di questi medaglioni era originariamente decorato. Nel Levante della Liguria, la parola “corzetto” significa sia lo stampo di legno che la pasta così incisa. Venivano usati legni pregiati come acero o faggio o anche melo o pero (e ancora oggi è così per gli artigiani che li producono); il legno utilizzato per gli stampi doveva essere privo di tannino o resine che rilasciassero aromi nell’impasto.

The mold and the Croxetti pasta

In Varese Ligure, the craftsman Pietro Picetti is in his laboratory to make Ligurian Croxettis.

And this is his story:

All the families of Varese had molds at home to prepare the croxetti, but they did not use them anymore to make Pasta. Suddenly I remembered that my mother also had one that belonged to my great-grandfather, and I discovered that I had a mold from the 1700s. So I decided to save the tradition and got old molds out of the cupboards, dust them off and revive them. Today, the croxetti are part of the culinary tradition of Liguria, especially in the eastern Riviera.

Picetti has his own special way of making croxetti

Picetti has his own unique way of making croxetti? He makes them one by one

He embosses them on both sides, which makes them more beautiful and suited to let the sauce imbue the dough through the embossing. Today, Picetti’s fame and the good – besides beautiful – Pasta carved with his special molds have crossed the borders of Varese. Then, the artisan was interviewed by numerous national and international media; today, he gets requests worldwide to send the Croxetti Pasta with specific shapes embossed. But this did not affect his life in the peaceful workshop in Varese Ligure. 

If you buy Ligurian Croxettis, here’s the recipe to season and enjoy them to the fullest:

Ingredients for the white sauce (pine nuts pesto)

  • 150 gr of pine nuts
  • 1/2 garlic clove
  • little olive oil
  • little milk
  • a pinch of marjoram

Mix all the sauce ingredients in the mixer until you get a creamy sauce; taste and, if necessary, add salt. If desired, you can add toasted pine nuts at the end.