Pastina pasta is one of Italy’s best loved comfort foods. Find the best pastina recipes below.
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Get familiar with this tasty carb first and then browse the recipes
What is Pastina?
Pastina is a variety of Italian miniature pasta which comes in various shapes – irregular, round (acini de pepe “seeds of pepper”), stars, squares, tubes (ditalini), even butterflies.
Typically, these examples of pastina are around the size of a rice grain. Larger than Moroccan couscous but smaller than Israeli couscous.
Not surprisingly the name means tiny pasta in Italian and is pronounced as “pa-stee-nuh”.
What Kind of Pasta is Pastina?
Pastina is made with durum wheat and egg.
It is mainly added to soups or prepared as a stand alone comfort food dish with the addition of simple ingredients such as butter, cheese, egg.
It is also prepared as infant solid food or included in desserts. In Italy pastina is a culinary institution.
Is Pastina the Same as Orzo?
No, it is not. Orzo is quite larger and has a firmer texture.
Is Stelline and Pastina the Same?
Stelline (star-shaped pasta) is considered pastina if the pasta stars are small enough to fit the grain of rice size requirement.
Often stelline comes in larger sizes.
Where to Buy Pastina?
In the US Barilla sells little stars branded pastina. Ronzoni used to carry a similar product but discontinued it.
There is no need to panic, because Italian pastina, as clarified above, comes in various shapes. Being branded pastina is not a requirement per se.
As long as the pasta shapes are very small (plenty of choices on the market) all chicken broth pastina soup recipes are safe!
Look for (some affiliate links):
- Acini de pepe – shaped like peppercorns
- Anellini – shaped like tiny rings
- Conchigliette – shaped like tiny shells
- Farfalline – shaped like tiny bowties
- Seme di melone – shaped like melon seeds
- Quadrucci – shaped like tiny square flakes
- Risoni – shaped like grains of rice
- Stelline – star-shaped
- Tubettini – shaped like tiny short tubes
How Long Does It Take to Boil Pastina?
Due to its very small size pastina cooks very fast. Typically 5 to 7 minutes is enough for it to be boiled perfectly al dente.
Refer to the manufacturer’s instructions for the particular pastina shape you are using.
Are You Supposed to Drain Pastina?
No. Traditionally pastina is cooked with just enough liquid as to absorb most of it but have some remaining in the pot.
It makes sense, since the liquid is so often a flavorful chicken or vegetable broth – see the en brodo pastina recipe listed below as an example.
When added to soups, obviously, it does not need to be drained, it simply cooks and becomes and integral part of the soup.
That being said, in some recipes, when the little pasta shapes are cooked in water and then further flavored most of the starchy water is drained. This is the exception rather than the common practice.
Pastina Storage and Reheating
Storage. Leftover pastina can be stored refrigerated in an airtight container for about 3 days.
Reheating. Pastina is best reheated gently in a saucepan over low heat. As a means to loosen it up slightly a small amount of stock or other appropriate liquid such as cream or milk (depending on the recipe) can be added.
Best Pastina Recipes
This comfort food is often referred to as the Italian equivalent of chicken soup or Italian penicillin in the sense that it is said to have the power to alleviate many of an ailment and ‘cure anything’.
Not surprisingly the best ways to cook pastina include homemade chicken stock. A pastina soup is also called minestrina or pastina en brodo (see below).
Simple Pastina Soup (Pastina en Brodo)
En brodo, meaning in broth, is a traditional preparation.
The little pasta is cooked in rich homemade chicken broth and generously flavored with parmesan cheese or pecorino romano.
Minestrina is classic Italian comfort food. Recipe here.
Pastina Soup with Vegetables
A classic Italian vegetable soup is perfectly complemented by the addition of stelline.
The pastina is added at the end and cooked until just al dente and the spinach simply wilted for a wonderful texture. Recipe here.
Pastina with Egg and Proscuitto
Pastina with egg is another traditional way to enjoy the miniature pasta. This version is topped with crispy prosciutto but good quality traditional bacon works great too.
Putting this dish together is simple and happens pronto in only about twenty minutes. A simple seasoning of salt and black pepper and dinner is served! Recipe here.
Classic Cheese and Egg Pastina
Easy recipe for a family classic dish. The pastina is coated in melted cheese (or a combination of two ) and a fresh Italian parsley garnish adds bright herbal notes. Recipe here.
This Italian risottata is essentially a risotto cooked with pastina.
Serve as a side dish or a main vegetarian course with asparagus and burrata cheese or grilled veggies, thinly sliced. Recipe here.
Pastina Tomato Soup
Tomatoes are one of pasta’s best friends and this holds true for this pastina tomato soup.
It is mostly savory, with hints of sweetness from the tomato. While sophisticated enough to please most adults kids will love it too. Recipe here.
Red Lentil and Pastina Soup with Turmeric
Cozy and comforting this delicious golden soup has softly textured red lentils, the warming flavor of turmeric and tender stelline.
A fine winter warmer with a delicate texture. Recipe here.
Pastina with Sausage and Peas
Acini di pepe provides the backdrop for delicious browned sausage and tender spring peas. The whole dish is za’atar spiced, with a generous parmesan cheese infusion. Recipe here.
Pastina with Mushrooms
Crispy bacon bits, sliced mushrooms, garlic and green onions are folded into buttery pastina and finished with a drizzle of olive oil.
Making this delicious meal takes just thirty minutes. Recipe here.
Pastina with Butter and Milk
Put a bowl of this pastina goodness in front of a child and watch it disappear in record time. The creator of this at first sight toddler pastina recipe calls it ‘soothing to children of all ages’ and after taste testing it we whole heartedly agree. Recipe here.
Pastina Recipe Collection
Pastina or little pasta is one of Italy's best loved comfort foods. Find some of the best pastina recipes below.
- Choose a pastina recipe by following the direct link.
- Prepare the needed ingredients and kitchen equipment.
- Make a delicious pastina dish.
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