Monday, November 9, 2009

La Pastina

So, there was supposed to be a picture with this post. But, I got so excited about eating it that I totally forgot to take a picture. Then, I went to look online for a photo and came across this recipe that not only looks amazing, but is totally going to overshadow my simple recipe here. Still, the basic recipe is great to know because it's a starting place for a whole lot of yummy variety.

For those of you who don't know, I was a missionary in Italy for a year and a half. I'm no Italian, but I like to think I know my way around pasta if only slightly better than the average American. Pastina literally means little pasta. It's mostly a kid's meal, but adults eat it too. It is soooo good when it's cold outside. And it's even better when you're sick. The ingredients are simple and easy on the body and still a bit nutritious.

You can find pastina in the pasta isle, in baggies usually, or little boxes. My favorite shape is stars, but you'll also find orzo and little ditalini (tiny circle tubes).

To make pastina, you want 1 part pasta, 2 parts water. If you're making it for yourself, use 1/2 cup pastina and 1 cup water. Bring the water to a boil, adding a bouillon cube and a healthy drizzle of olive oil while the water is heating up. When boiling, add the pasta. Stir, stir, stir until the pasta is cooked. These little guys are really good at sticking to the bottom of the pot. If it's getting toward the end, and the water is almost gone (it will look like the pasta itself is boiling, there won't be excess water) but the pasta isn't quite cooked, feel free to add more water a bit at a time until the noodles are done. Taste it towards the end and add a little salt if it needs it, but it usually doesn't. Pour it into a bowl, add as much parmesan cheese as you like, and enjoy! It's good, easy comfort food.

And there's a lot you can do with this basic recipe. There's really no limit, as the link above so effectively demonstrates. A few other simple ideas:
- when you add the pasta, drop in some frozen peas.
- if you want more of a soup, use less pasta or more water...duh.
- when it's done, add diced tomato, fresh mozzarella, and a little basil.
- add a little bit of canned diced tomato with juice and some white beans and whatever italian herbs you like (I'm always partial to basil).

This is so simple and easy, I really kind of feel silly posting it here. But, it tasted so good tonight (I'm feeling a little under the weather) and it's something I always come back to...Hope you like!


  1. I tried this last night and you're right, it was perfect on a chilly night! This is so easy, quick, and goooood. I couldn't find the little stars, so I got ditalini. I added tomatoes, parsley, basil, and a little bit of balsamic vinegar. Yummmm. Thanks Jen!

  2. Yey! I'm so glad you tried it and liked it. I was starting to wonder if it seemed weird to everyone or something. it really is one of my favorite things. Glad you liked it. And nice call with adding some balsamic! I'll have to try that next time.

  3. Jen - i wanted to make this tonight, but what kind of cheese other than Parmesan d oyou think would taste good. (I know, I'm the only person I know who does not like Parmesan.)

  4. Becky - I use Grana Padano, which is like Parmesan, but isn't. Or do you hate all cheeses that are like unto Parmesan?

    You could also use fresh mozz, but that would be a different taste. You don't have to use cheese at all if you don't want to.