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Pastina: The Way Italians *Actually* Make it

If you've spent any time on social media at all, you've probably come across the ooey gooey Italian comfort food, pastina.


This traditional Italian dish has been popular wayyyyy before the internet, but thanks to social media it's even more trendy. You might even have trouble finding the noodles at your local grocery store because of the craze!


Since summer of 2022, thousands of recipes for pastina have gone viral on TikTok and Instagram. Scrolling through the tag #pastina has over 77M views, with many, many individual videos garnering millions of views.


Today we're talking about pastina–the way Italians really make it... ❤️




For many Italian Americans, pastina is more than an cute, star-shaped pasta—it’s the nostalgic centerpiece of childhood. Picture this: You are a little kid. You don't feel well. Your nonna cooks a big pot of pastina in broth and tops it off with spoonfuls of butter and Parmesan cheese and brings it to you in bed. What could be better than that? Nothing, probably. A bowl full of pastina is equivalent to chicken noodle soup or matzo ball soup; It nourishes the body, but more importantly the soul.


What Type of Pasta is Pastina?


Pastina is a type of small, grain-shaped pasta that is commonly used in soups or as a simple, comforting dish on its own. It is sometimes called "stars" or "stelline" because of its small, star-like shape.


Pastina is typically made from durum wheat semolina flour, which is mixed with water and formed into small, grain-shaped pieces. It is a versatile pasta that can be used in a variety of dishes, from chicken noodle soup to simple buttered noodles.


Does Pastina Use Raw Eggs?


No, tradational pastina recipes do not call for raw egg.


However, you do add an egg to the cooked pastina and the dish is stirred together quickly; the residual heat from the boiled pasta cooks the egg fully–adding a rich flavor and creamy texture to your pastina.


What Type of Pasta is Similar to Pastina?


If you are unable to find pastina at your local grocery store (le sigh), there are several other types of pasta that are similar in size and shape that you can use instead. Some options include:

  1. Orzo: Orzo is a type of pasta that is shaped like grains of rice, but slightly larger than pastina. It is commonly used in soups and salads.

  2. Acini di pepe: Acini di pepe is a small, round pasta that is about the same size as pastina. It is commonly used in soups, stews, and pasta salads.

  3. Israeli couscous: Israeli couscous is a type of pasta that is shaped like small balls. It is slightly larger than pastina, but can be used as a substitute in soups and stews.

  4. Ditalini: Ditalini is a short, tube-shaped pasta that is similar in size and shape to pastina. It is commonly used in soups and stews, as well as in pasta salads.

Overall, the best substitute for pastina will depend on the specific recipe and your personal preference. Experiment with different types of small pasta to find the one that works best for you.


What is the Difference between Orzo and Pastina?


The main difference between orzo and pastina is their shape and size.


Orzo is rice-shaped and larger, while pastina is star-shaped and very small. Additionally, orzo is commonly used in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisines, while pastina is often used in Italian cuisine.


Feeling hungry? Suddenly craving a bowl of creamy, cheesy pastina? Give one of these pastina recipes below a try— it's like a warm hug in a bowl.


How to Make Pastina (the Italian Way)


Now, for the important part: how to cook pastina? It's simple:


Ingredients:

  • 1 cup pastina (small pasta)

  • 4 cups chicken or vegetable broth

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

  • Fresh parsley, chopped (optional)


Instructions:

  1. In a large pot, bring the chicken or vegetable broth to a boil over medium-high heat.

  2. Add the pastina to the pot and stir gently. Reduce the heat to medium-low and let the pasta cook for about 10 minutes, or until tender.

  3. While the pasta is cooking, heat the olive oil in a small skillet over medium heat.

  4. Add the minced garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly, until fragrant and lightly golden.

  5. Remove the skillet from the heat and set aside.

  6. Once the pastina is cooked, remove the pot from the heat and add the garlic and olive oil mixture, salt, and pepper. Stir well to combine.

  7. Add the grated Parmesan cheese and stir again.

  8. If desired, sprinkle fresh chopped parsley over the top of the pastina.

  9. Serve the pastina hot and enjoy!

This simple and traditional Italian dish is perfect for a comforting and quick meal.


Buon appetito!


Favorite Pastina Recipes


These Pastina-Stuffed Tomatoes are a delicious and fun twist on traditional stuffed peppers! Perfect for a summer dinner party or family gathering, these stuffed tomatoes are a colorful and flavorful side dish. The filling features tender pastina pasta, fresh herbs, and grated parmesan cheese, all baked inside a juicy and ripe tomato. The result is a burst of savory and tangy flavors that are sure to impress your guests. P


lus, these stuffed tomatoes are easy to make and can be prepared ahead of time, making them a stress-free addition to your menu.


This recipe for Pastina with Mushrooms & Bacon is a quick and easy dish that is perfect for a cozy weeknight dinner. The dish features tender pastina pasta, savory bacon, and earthy mushrooms, all combined in a deliciously creamy sauce made with chicken broth and heavy cream.


The recipe requires only a handful of ingredients and can be prepared in under 30 minutes. It is a comforting and satisfying meal that will warm you up on even the coldest of nights.

This Chicken Lemon Pastina Soup is like a warm hug in a bowl! Imagine tender pieces of chicken, delicate pastina pasta, and a zesty lemon broth that's both comforting and refreshing. It's like a spa day for your taste buds!


This soup is perfect for when you want something light and nourishing, but still crave those classic chicken noodle soup flavors. Plus, it's so easy to make that you'll have plenty of time to binge-watch your favorite shows while it cooks. Cozy up with a bowl of this soup and let it soothe your soul.





 

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