Pastina is a beloved traditional Italian dish that brings comfort and warmth. It’s the type of dish that a mother might lovingly prepare for her children when they’re not feeling well, and it’s often one of the earliest solid foods that a baby tries. It’s a delightful childhood treat in Italy and something your kids are sure to love too.
The process of making this dish is quite straightforward. The small-shaped pasta is gently cooked in flavorful broth until it absorbs most of the liquid.
What is Pastina?
Pastina in Italian is just a term used to describe small pasta or little pasta, which is commonly prepared in Italian households. The small pasta stars cooked in the soup are quite popular, but feel free to use any type of small pasta you have available.
What Kind of Pasta Is Pastina?
Pastina is a delightful variety of small pasta that is frequently enjoyed in Italian cuisine. In Italian, the term “pastina” means “tiny pasta.”
This item is known for its small size and comes in different shapes, like stars, tubes, or tiny shells. Pastina is commonly used in soups and broths because of its small size, which makes it easy to blend into the dish.
It is often preferred for dishes that are served to children, as it adds a fun and playful touch to the meal. There are several small pasta varieties that would work with our recipe.
Try acini de pepe (Italian for “peppercorns”), funghetti (“little mushrooms”), alfabeti (“alphabets”), anellini (“little rings”), or stelline (“little stars”).
Orzo vs Pastina?
Pastina is a tiny pasta shape that is distinct from orzo. Orzo is a type of pasta that is small and shaped like rice, but it is slightly larger than pastina.
Italian Pastina Recipe
- 1 1/2 cups Pasta (pastina)
- 3 cups Low-sodium chicken broth or water
- 2 tbsp Un-salted butter
- 6 tbsp Milk Warmed
- To start, pour some broth or water into a small saucepan and place it over medium-high heat. Allow it to come to a boil. Please add the pastina to the mixture and gently stir it in. Cook for a few minutes until most of the liquid has been soaked up.
- Pouring milk into a cup that is safe to use in the microwave. Heat it for about 30-45 seconds until it becomes warm.
- Once the pastina is cooked to your desired level of doneness, lower the heat to a gentle simmer. Then, add butter and the warmed milk to the pastina. Continue stirring until the butter has completely melted, and then remove the mixture from the heat source. You can add a sprinkle of grated parmesan cheese, along with a pinch of salt and pepper. (optional)
Common Mistakes to Avoid
Avoid overcooking when making pasta because it will become mushy and lose its texture. Additionally, avoid overcrowding the pot because the pasta requires space to cook evenly. Lastly, be cautious with salt, as both the broth and Parmesan cheese contribute to the dish’s saltiness.
Tips & Variations
Add protein: Once the pasta is cooked, add 1 lightly beaten egg or egg white along with the remaining ingredients. This will ensure that the egg cooks through in a couple of minutes.
Add veggies: You can enhance the flavor and nutritional value of your pasta dish by including some shredded carrots, zucchini, celery, tomatoes, or broccoli in the boiling water along with the pasta.
Pastina Soup: To transform this into a soup, you can enhance the flavor with additional chicken broth. This will help create a more robust and satisfying soup-like base.
Pasta variation: If you’re unable to locate the small star-shaped pasta I mentioned, you can try using other smaller pasta options like acini de pepe, orzo, ditalini, or alphabet pasta. Smaller pastas are ideal for making pastina.
Chicken Pastina Soup: If you wanted to make this recipe extra hearty, add some chicken pieces to the pastina.
Add more flavor: You can enhance the flavor of the hot pasta by adding your preferred fresh herbs. Finely chopped parsley is a fantastic choice.
In summary, Pastina truly captures the essence of Italian comfort food. The simplicity of this dish, along with the ability to try out different flavors, has made it a popular choice in many Italian homes. By becoming skilled in the craft of making Pastina, you not only honor the rich Italian culinary heritage but also have the opportunity to create cherished dining moments for yourself and your loved ones.
Pastina is often used in soups and broths because of its small size, making it easy to mix into the liquid. It is also quite popular in dishes that are served to children, as it adds a playful touch to their meals.
Pastina is a unique variety of pasta, so there isn’t a precise equivalent available. However, if pastina is not available, you can try using other small pasta shapes such as stelline, acini di pepe, or orzo as substitutes in recipes.
Absolutely! Pastina is actually made from durum wheat semolina, which is a type of wheat known for its high protein content. It’s a commonly used ingredient in the production of pasta.
If you’re searching for an alternative, there are other small pasta shapes such as stelline, acini di pepe, or orzo that can be used instead of pastina in recipes.
Pasta varieties like orzo, ditalini, small shells, or small elbow macaroni are great choices for soups because of their petite size and ability to maintain their texture in liquid without turning overly soft.
Pastina is a delightful pasta that has its roots in Italy, where it has been enjoyed for generations. It is commonly used in Italian cuisine, particularly in soups and dishes that are popular among children.