Creamy Italian Pastina is the best home-cooked comfort food! It’s full of unbelievably rich and buttery, cheesy flavors. This cozy pasta dish is made in under 10 minutes with tender pastina cooked in chicken broth and finished with an egg and fresh parmesan.
Classic Italian Pastina with Egg and Parmesan
Today I’m sharing a favorite recipe for creamy, cheesy pastina pasta. On days when we’re in need of something akin to a hug in a bowl, this recipe always delivers. There’s a reason pastina is the Italians’ go-to comfort food.
This Italian-inspired recipe is a bit like a pasta-meets-risotto, cooked in chicken broth and finished carbonara-style with an egg and freshly grated parmesan cheese. Basically, it’s all kinds of delicious wrapped up into one cozy recipe. My Italian mother in law used to make this for my husband growing up, and so the tradition has been passed on. It’s so super easy, and quick! Just a few easy-to-come-by ingredients and a quick boil on the stovetop. It’s simple and comforting whenever you need it the most!
What Is Pastina?
In Italian, pastina literally translates to “little pasta.” You’ll sometimes find it called acini de pepe (“seeds of pepper”) as well. It’s the smallest kind of pasta you can find, consisting of itty-bitty pieces of noodles made from egg and wheat flour. The shapes can range from small stars to little round granules, pictured here.
As a dish, pastina is known as Italy’s favorite comfort food, made when someone is feeling under the weather in one way or another. You’ll see why – it’s easy to get wrapped up inside this recipe’s rich, warm flavors.
What You’ll Need
The real beauty of homemade pastina is in its inexpensive, basic ingredients. Below is what you’ll need to make this simple version with parmesan. Don’t forget to scroll to the recipe card for the full ingredient amounts.
Pastina: This is the classic, tiny Italian pasta that makes up this recipe. Barilla makes a boxed pastina that you can look out for, alongside other pasta varieties in major grocery stores.
Chicken Broth: I like to cook with low-sodium chicken broth. This way the dish can still be seasoned without turning out overly salty.
Butter and Egg: Butter and a whisked egg add loads of richness and a creamy finish to this classic pastina recipe. Let your egg come to room temperature beforehand.
Parmesan Cheese: Freshly grated is best. You’ll stir it into the pasta, but you can also use any leftovers for sprinkling over top. Another hard Italian cheese, like pecorino, will also work.
Black Pepper: Freshly cracked black pepper adds a nice flavor and subtle heat.
How to Make Creamy Pastina
Let’s make a comforting pot of pastina in 10 minutes or less! It’s a simple 2-step process:
Cook the Pasta: Empty the box of pastina pasta into a pot with the broth. Bring the pasta to a boil and leave it to cook for 6-7 minutes, until the pasta is al dente and the broth is well absorbed.
Finish and Serve: Take the pot off the heat (very important! You don’t want to scramble the egg), and stir in the egg, butter, and grated parmesan. Give your creamy pasta a generous crack of black pepper, and that’s it! Your wholesome, quick, and easy pastina is ready to eat.
Tips for Success
Here are some quick tips to keep in mind when making this favorite Italian pasta recipe:
Cook pastina in broth. While water will technically work, nothing brings flavor to these tiny pasta pieces the way broth does! If you do need to cook the pasta in water, be sure to season the water with salt beforehand.
What can I use instead of pastina? Depending on where you live, pastina pasta can sometimes be tricky to find in stores. You can order it online, check at a local Italian deli (if you have one), or if you’re really stuck, use another small-shaped pasta, like orzo, instead.
This pastina recipe is super simple, which is why it’s so well-loved! However, if you’d like, this leaves plenty of room for easy variations and add-ins:
Garnishes: In addition to parmesan cheese and pepper, garnish your pasta with fresh chopped parsley, thyme leaves, or red pepper flakes.
Vegetarian Pastina: Substitute vegetable broth in place of chicken broth. If you don’t eat eggs, you can also stir in additional butter.
Add Protein: Add in protein like leftover cooked and shredded chicken or turkey, crispy chopped bacon or pancetta, or cooked ground beef.
Add Veggies: Diced, cooked veggies can be stirred into your pastina. Good options are sauteed or roasted zucchini, broccoli, peas, mushrooms, or asparagus.
This recipe is pure comfort all on its own. Curling up on the couch with a bowlful of pastina is like the Italian’s answer to a mug of hot cocoa. Mood = instantly lifted. But if you’re after an extra dose of comfort, serve your creamy pastina with a side of crusty French Bread or homemade Stuffed Garlic Bread.
If you wanted to turn your pastina into a meal, this simple pasta dish makes a satisfying side to serve with meaty mains like Instant Pot Short Ribs or Stuffed Caprese Chicken. Serve it with a vegetable side like roasted or sauteed broccoli or Air Fryer Asparagus.
Storing and Reheating Leftovers
Store any leftover pastina airtight in the fridge for up to 3 days. Reheat portions in a saucepan on the stovetop, or in the microwave, with a bit of broth (or water) added to revive the texture of the pasta.
Can I Freeze Pastina?
Yes! Once the pasta is completely cool, transfer it to an airtight, freezer-safe container or freezer bag. Store your pastina frozen for up to 1 month, and reheat slowly on the stove or in the microwave.
Creamy Italian Pastina is a quick and cozy pasta dish full of rich, buttery, cheesy flavors, finished with an egg and fresh parmesan. The very definition of comfort food!
1 (12- ounce) box pastina
4 cups chicken broth
3 tablespoons butter
1 large egg, room temperature, whisked
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, and more to garnish
Fresh ground black pepper to taste
Add 4 cups of broth and the box of pastina into a 3- quart pot over medium heat. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently, and boil for 6-7 minutes, until the broth is absorbed and the pastina is al dente.
Remove the pot from the heat and immediately stir in the butter, egg, and Parmesan cheese.
Season liberally with pepper and serve immediately.
Store airtight in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
Reheat in the microwave or on the stove top. Add a little broth or water before heating to loosen up the pasta.
Keywords: recipes with pastina, italian pasta recipes, comfort food recipes