Pastina is a cozy, silky and soup-like Italian dish made with teeny pasta called “pastina”, which is meant to be enjoyed when one is in need of a feel good, comforting meal. Prepared in about ten minutes with a handful of simple ingredients such as chicken stock, butter, grated parmesan cheese and a whisked egg for creaminess, this pastina recipe yields enough for two, and is perfect when you're feeling a little under the weather and need some TLC!
Creamy, Comforting Pastina
When I'm feeling a little vulnerable and perhaps even under the weather, the last thing I want to do is spend a lot of time on my feet doing a lot of cooking.
In moments like those what I crave is a cozy and warming meal that I can prepare in minutes to get some needed sustenance, and pastina is literally the perfect meal for this occasion.
If you're Italian, you've most likely enjoyed a pastina recipe made by mom or grandma (aka “Italian penicillin”), and if you've never heard of it, you're in for a treat...
Pastina is actually the name that is given to very tiny pasta, typically star-shaped, but it's also the name of a dish made with that pasta, simmered in chicken stock or broth just until the pasta is tender (no draining the liquid here).
Then, grated parmesan cheese, butter and a whisked egg are blended into the porridge-like mixture to create a rich, silky texture with savory flavor.
This pastina recipe is incredibly simple. It's one to keep in the recipe tin for those occasions when you need some TLC and a warming, cozy, soup-like meal that'll be oh so comforting.
And the best part?
You'll be enjoying a bowlful of pastina in about 10 minutes!
My Pastina Recipe
The beauty of a recipe for pastina is that it is explicitly meant to be a very easy preparation.
Pastina is traditionally prepared and served when one needs some feel-good food that warms from within and offers very simple nutrition, without much time spent in the kitchen at all.
Actually, it even makes for a terrifically cozy snack anytime!
It's one of those meals that you actually make as needed, rather than make in a large soup pot as you would a traditional soup, because it really should be eaten right after preparation for perfect silky consistency, which will thicken somewhat if the pastina sits for too long.
My recipe yields two servings, but you can double the ingredients if you want to feed four, or halve the ingredients for just a single serving (though you can keep the one, whole egg in that case—no need to halve that.)
Think of pastina like a bowl of warming porridge, only made savory with tiny pasta, chicken broth, butter, grated parmesan cheese, and a whisked egg stirred in at the end for a rich, velvety finish.
And while my pastina recipe here is vey simple, with just a few ingredients, I have seen some with chicken added in and/or diced vegetables—you can certainly add either or both, if you'd like!
Actually, I typically like to add in a clove or two of garlic into the broth when preparing my pastina recipe, though this is not traditional. I happen to love the flavor of garlic, and since garlic has antiviral properties, it helps my immune system out when I’m under the weather.
When it comes to the broth, how much you want to add is up to you, as that'll depend on if you like the consistency of your pastina a little thicker, or a touch more soup-like. I like using 2 ¼ cups of broth (or stock), but if you'd like it a bit thicker, use 2 cups.
Then, it's just about the order of the ingredients added to make for a creamy, silky bowl of pastina!
Here's a glance at my pastina recipe: (or just jump to the full recipe...)
- To get started, I add my broth or stock and my garlic (if using) to a small pot and bring to the simmer.
- I then add in my pastina, and stir to combine, allowing it to cook just until tender, about 5 to 6 minutes. At this point, most of the liquid will be absorbed, though not all of it, so I turn the heat off.
- Next, I add in the butter and stir that in until completely melted.
- Then, I stir in the finely grated parmesan until incorporated.
- Lastly, the whisked egg is vigorously stirred in until the pastina becomes creamy and velvety, with a silky consistency.
- To finish, I ladle the pastina into a bowl and add more grated parmesan cheese, plus a bit of cracked black pepper, a drizzle of olive oil, and a sprinkle of chopped parsley.
by Ingrid Beer
This warm, cozy and flavorful pastina recipe is prepared in mere minutes, and makes for the perfect feel-good, comforting meal!
Yield: Serves 2
Nutrition Info: 368 calories per serving
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 6 minutes
Total time: 11 minutes
- 2 to 2 ¼ cups chicken or veggie stock (or bone broth, for added nutrition)
- 1 to 2 cloves garlic, pressed through garlic press (optional, but adds great flavor if you like garlic)
- ½ cup pastina (tiny star-shaped pasta)
- 1 tablespoon cold, unsalted butter
- ½ cup finely-grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese, plus more for topping bowls with
- 1 egg, whisked
- Freshly-cracked black pepper, optional garnish
- Finely chopped parsley, optional garnish
- Olive oil, optional garnish
- Begin by gathering and prepping all of your ingredients according to the ingredient list above to have ready and organized for use.
- Add your stock or broth and garlic (if using) into a small pot, and bring to the simmer.
- Next, add in your pastina and stir to incorporate, allowing the pastina to gently simmer for about 6 minutes until tender. (Much of the liquid will absorb, though there should still be some covering the pastina.)
- Turn off the heat, and whisk in your cold butter until melted and incorporated. Then, whisk in the ½ cup of grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese until blended in.
- Next, whisk the egg into the hot pastina, until fully blended in with a creamy, silky and velvety consistency.
- Ladle into bowls and serve immediately, and top with lots of extra grated cheese, perhaps some black pepper, a sprinkle of chopped parsley, and a drizzle of olive oil, if desired.
Tips & Tidbits for my Pastina recipe:
- Double the recipe if serving 4 people: This pastina recipe yields enough for 2 servings. So if you'd like to make enough for 4 people, then double the ingredients. Conversely, if you'd like to make a single serving, just halve the recipe, keeping the 1 whole egg (no need to halve that).
- Pastina, little star-shaped pasta: When buying pastina, I opt for Barilla's pastina, which is a tiny star shaped version—it's the classic type of pasta used. You could also use a different one, as it doesn't have to be star shaped, but make sure it is very, very fine and tiny pasta. (I typically order mine online if I can't find it in the market.)
- Drizzle in the whisked egg at the end for smooth, creamy texture: I find that adding the whisked egg in last, and vigorously whisking or stirring (to avoid scrambling the egg) makes the consistency smooth and creamy, and porridge-like.
- Keep your pastina simple, or add some other bells and whistles: This recipe here is very quick and basic, but if you'd like a heartier pastina recipe, you can add shredded or cubed cooked chicken (rotisserie is terrific for this), or finely-diced, sauteed veggies at the end.
- Lots of freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese: While you can certainly use good quality pre-grated parmesan cheese out of a tub here, I'm all for freshly grating a block of parmigiano-reggiano cheese for this recipe, for the flavor and light texture—it sort of just melts into the pastina! You can't really overdo it on the cheese, so I'm giving a basic amount, and you can add more as desired, especially as garnish to your bowlful when serving.