The Croxetti tradition and recipe from Varese Ligure

If you travel to Italy as a pasta lover, you definitely should visit Varese Ligure in Val di Vara to admire the art of the Croxetti making, beautiful hand made pasta from Liguria.

Eating Pasta is a must when visiting Italy, a culinary tradition that is reinterpreted literally in every corner of the country. There is no small village of  the most secluded coustryside that doesn’t have its own way to make pasta. 

In Liguria, and mostly in the eastern RivieraCroxetti, or Corzetti are small circles of pasta in the shape of a medallion on which, a design is embossed in the dough with a wooden mold. In the historic centers, even today, it is possible to find ancient shops that produce the essential molds to prepare corzetti at home.

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

The croxetti or corzetti rose to the Republic of Genoa chronicles for the first time in the last years of the 1700 on the 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, on the occasion of weddings to prepare the croxetti with the couple’s initials. The genuese name “cruxettu” derives from the stylized image of a small cross,  (“cruxetta”) with which one of the two sides of these medallions was originally decorated.


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 laboratories 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 1700’s. So I decided to save the tradition and I managed to get 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 special way of making croxetti: he makes them one by one and embosses them on both sides, which makes them more beautiful and suited to  let the sauce imbues the pasta through the embossing. Today, the fame of Picetti and of the good – besides beautiful – pasta carved with his special molds has crossed the borders of Varese. The artisan was interviewed by numerous national and international media, today he gets requests from all over the world to have the pasta sent 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 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 ingredients of the sauce 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.




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