Pastina is easy to make, full of simple flavor, and is always oh so comforting! This classic Italian dish features tender pastina pasta that’s cooked in chicken broth for added flavor before being mixed with some parmesan cheese, an egg, and a sprinkle of coarsely ground black pepper. Top it off with some fresh parsley to really hit the spot!
If you’re anything like me, you have fun just saying the word “pastina!” It rolls right off the tongue and makes this dish sound so much more fabulous than other pasta dishes.
Fancy as it may sound (when said in a comedic Italian accent), this dish is actually delightfully simple in both its flavor and cooking process. The only tiny hassle is having to grate the parmesan yourself, but the results are SO very worth that minimal effort!
What is Pastina?
So, what exactly is Pastina? This recipe is named after the pasta itself. Pastina, otherwise known as acini de pepe, is the smallest type of pasta that’s made! It’s kind of similar to rice in size.
This recipe is the most classic way to prepare the pasta and is recognized as a classic, kid-friendly comfort dish that Italian mothers have been relying on for years.
While this dish is great all by itself, especially for picky eaters or those feeling under the weather, you can also plate it with just about any protein and/or veggie side dish you can think of to really round out your plate!
The simple flavors of parmesan and cracked black pepper, much like Cacio e Pepe, help this pasta dish pair well with a variety of other recipes. I love serving it alongside Parmesan Crusted Chicken Cutlets and Garlic Parmesan Baked Asparagus on those evenings I’m craving some parmesan flavor.
How to Make Pastina
This timeless recipe is SO easy to make!
- Cook the pasta. Heat 3 cups of chicken stock in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir in the pastina and bring the mixture to a boil. Lower the heat to medium and continue to cook until the pasta is al dente. Be sure to stir often!
- Add the final ingredients. Remove the pan from the heat. Stir in the parmesan, egg, and half of the freshly cracked black pepper. Stir vigorously to fully incorporate the egg and cheese into the pasta – you don’t want large pieces of either ingredient floating around.
- Enjoy! Serve your pasta immediately with an additional sprinkle of parmesan cheese and black pepper on top. Fresh parsley is also a nice garnish!
Tips for the Best Pastina
Here are just a few ways to make this recipe even easier to achieve the best results every time!
- You’ll know the pasta is cooked to al dente and ready to remove from the heat when there’s barely any broth left in the pan. With that being said, I always like to conduct a little taste test with my pasta just to make sure it’s cooked to the consistency I like!
- If you do notice that the pastina isn’t fully cooked but you’re out of broth in the pan, you can always add a splash more until it’s absorbed and the correct consistency is reached.
- Freshly grated parmesan cheese is the best for this recipe for two major reasons. First off, pre-shredded cheese is coated in an anti-caking powder that prevents it from fully melting into the pasta. Secondly, freshly grated cheese always has the best flavor. In a recipe this simple, that flavor is very pronounced, so you’ll want it to be as delicious as it can be.
- Make sure that your egg is at room temperature and NOT COLD before stirring it into the pasta.
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Get the Recipe: Pastina Recipe
- 4 cups chicken stock
- 1 12 ounce box dried pastina pasta, Acini de Pepe
- 1 large egg, room temperature
- 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish
- 1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
- 1 saucepan
- Heat 3 cups of the chicken stock in a saucepan over medium high heat.
- Add the pasta and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally,
- Turn the heat to medium and continue to cook, stirring often, until the pasta is al dented and there is barely any stock remaining in the pan, approximately 4-5 minutes.
- Stir in the remaining stock 1/4 cup at a time if you need more liquid.
- Remove the pan from the heat and add the parmesan, egg and half the pepper.
- Stir vigorously to incorporate the egg and cheese into the pasta.
- Serve immediately with additional parmesan cheese and ground pepper, if desired.