The Best Italian Pastina Recipe
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This Italian Pastina Recipe is the classic Italian comfort food of all time for both kids and adults. Made with star shaped pasta and simple ingredients that takes minutes to make. Once you have a bite, this be will one of your new favorite recipes!
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Creamy Italian Pastina Recipe
There isn’t anything better than a warm bowl of pastina. It was the perfect meal growing up when I was a little girl and now our daughter is obsessed with it. In fact, this was one of the first solid foods we introduced her to. We make it at least once a week and my husband and I still eat it too!
There’s something so hearty, comforting, and delicious about a bowl of pastina. It’s such a simple recipe made with a handful of ingredients you already have. Enjoy it as a meal or serve it as a side dish.
You can customize this comfort food any way you want whether you want to add more flavor, add more liquid, or make it cheesier. It’s totally up to you!
What is Pastina?
Pastina in Italian simply means small pasta or little pasta and it’s often cooked in Italian households. Tiny pasta stars that are cooked in the soup are the most popular but you can use whatever small pasta you can find.
Why You’ll Love this Pastina Recipe
- Ultimate comfort food: You’ll crave this whenever you want something comforting, especially on a cold day or if you aren’t feeling well. This is always our go-to meal on sick days. Some Italian’s even call this soup “Italian penicillin” because it’s always a must have to get better when sick.
- Quick and easy recipe: You could make pastina in less than 10 minutes, it couldn’t be any easier!
- Kids and adults will love it: There’s something so delicious with the combination of butter and pasta. Kids will especially love the tiny star-shaped pasta.
- Double the recipe: This recipe makes enough for 2-4 servings but you can easily double the recipe. Just be sure to use a large pot instead of a small pot.
- Pastina pasta: This pasta is shaped like tiny stars but you you can use any small pasta that you can find. See a list below for other pastas that would work great for this recipe.
- Milk: Whole milk or low-fat works best. It’s important to warm the milk before adding it to the cooked pastina so it keeps the pasta warm.
- Butter: Unsalted butter works best so you can control the saltiness but you could also use salted butter, just be sure to taste the pastina before adding any more salt. You could also use olive oil but it will change the flavor a bit.
- Chicken broth: I like to use reduced-sodium chicken broth or chicken stock so I could control the sodium. Use homemade chicken broth or store-bought chicken broth, whatever you have. You could also use water, vegetable broth, or bone broth but the broth will add more flavor.
- Parmesan cheese: I always love adding freshly shredded or grated parmesan cheese or pecorino romano cheese. This will make the pastina slightly cheesy and adds an extra richness flavor. Add as much or as little as you want.
How To Make Pastina
Cook pasta: Add broth or water to a small saucepan on medium heat and bring to a boil. Add pastina and stir. Cook for a few minutes according to package directions, until most of the liquid has been absorbed.
Heat milk: Add milk to a microwavable safe cup and heat until warmed, about 30-45 seconds.
Add milk, butter and cheese: Once the pastina is cooked or al dente, reduce the heat to low and add butter and warmed milk. Stir until butter has melted then remove from heat. Top with grated parmesan cheese, a little butter, a pinch of salt, and black pepper (optional).
Recipes Tips & Variations
- Add protein: Add 1 lightly beaten egg or egg white once the pasta is cooked and you add the remaining ingredients. It will only take a few minutes for the egg to cook through.
- Add veggies: Add shredded carrots, zucchini, celery, tomatoes, or broccoli to the boiling water when you add the pasta.
- Pastina Soup: Make this into more of a soup by adding more chicken broth to create a soup like base.
- Pasta variation: If you aren’t able to find the little stars shaped pasta (smaller than the kind I used), use any smaller pasta such as acini de pepe, orzo, ditalini, or alphabet pasta. Smaller pastas work best for pastina.
- Chicken Pastina Soup: Add chicken pieces to the pastina if you wanted to make this recipe extra hearty.
- Add more flavor: Add your favorite fresh herbs to the hot pasta. Finley chopped parsley is a great option.
Leftovers & Storage
To-store: Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up 4-5 days. When ready to reheat, place in the refrigerator to warm. You may want to add a splash or milk or chicken broth to help soften the pastina.
To-freeze: Place cooled pastina in an airtight container and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw on the counter for a few hours or place in the refrigerator overnight.
To-reheat: Reheat leftovers in the microwave or a small saucepan. It’s always best to add more milk since the pasta will most likely dry out once it’s refrigerated or frozen.
Other Quick Pasta Recipes
- Stove Top Mac and Cheese
- Stuffed Pasta Shells
- Cheesy Gnocchi Bake
- Chicken Alfredo Pappardelle
- Italian Pasta Salad
- Creamy Broccoli Pasta
Other Soup Recipes to Try
- White Bean Soup
- Chicken Gnocchi Soup
- Lemon Chicken Soup
- Homemade Vegetable Soup
- Healthier Cream of Mushroom Soup
More Italian Recipes
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The Best Italian Pastina Recipe
- 3 cups low-sodium chicken broth or water
- 1 1/2 cups little star pasta (pastina) or any small pasta
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 6 tablespoons milk warmed
- grated parmesan cheese optional
- salt and pepper to taste optional
- Add broth or water to a small sauce pan on medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Add pastina and stir. Cook for a few minutes until most of the liquid has been absorbed.
- Add milk to a microwavable safe cup and heat until warmed, about 30-45 seconds.
- Once the pastina is cooked or al dente, reduce the heat to low and add butter and warmed milk. Stir until butter has melted then remove from heat. Top with grated parmesan cheese, salt, and pepper (optional).
This simple pasta recipe will be a hit with the grandkids. I will make some on Friday when they come over for dinner. Easy and delicious.
How can something so simple be so good?! An Italian friend was trying to describe this dish to me and how much it means to him. I found your recipe and gave it a try and now I understand. Such pure comfort!
I love this recipe! I made it the other night and my toddler loved it! Thanks for such a great recipe, it was a hit 🙂
This is such and quick and easy recipe. My cousin who is a really picky eater loved this dish and he thought the start shaped pasta was really fun.
I’ve never heard of this comfort food, but I completely understand why it’s so popular with Italians! Tasted like home and so simple yet yummy, the whole family has a new favorite for winter weeknight dinner 😉
Wow, this pasta dish was very simple and quick to make! A great recipe to make during a busy week night! My kids loved it!
Definitely the recipe I want to hold on to. It is easy, it works very well with my other favorite dishes, and it’s just… amazing to keep on hand. Thank you!
Such an iconic Italian dish. It’s such comfort food and your recipe is exceptional! So easy and perfect anytime!
I love how easy this is to make. It was such a delicious filling side dish.
I’ve never had pastina but this sounds wonderful! We’re all about comfort foods and with the cold, wet spring weather we’ve been having, this sounds like just the thing!
Love this The Best Italian Pastina Recipe never hear of this recipe before, but definitely will make it for the family, looks delicious and easy to make. Thanks for sharing 🙂
Total comfort in a bowl and a great dish when you don’t have much left in the house too.
Oooh, so comforting! This Pastina will definitely be a hit with my kids. I love how easily it comes together.
This quick, simple, comforting and fabulous Italian pastina is a perfect meal for my family.
This is definitely a dish that even the pickiest of kids will like! It has a wonderful creamy and cheesy flavor. Thanks for sharing!