Comfort Food: Italian Style

It’s April.  And with April comes rain….lots and lots of wet, cold rain.

Homemade tomato soup and grilled cheese paninis are great for this weather, but that requires some planning.

Chicken noodle soup is a popular choice for cold weather (and colds!) but the stuff in the can just doesn’t quite satisfy.

Going out is always an option, but the roads are slippery and my wiper blades need to be replaced.

Four years ago I would’ve shuffled around the kitchen, upset that I didn’t have any canned soup on hand.  I would have aimlessly stared into the empty refrigerator, waiting for something warm to magically appear.   But I have come a long way since then.  I have learned of the ultimate comfort food.  The food that warms you head to toe, that makes you feel better, that makes rainy days enjoyable!  And yes, it’s Italian.

Pastina (for all those who don’t speak Italian or Spanish, it means “little pasta”) is the smallest type of pasta made.  There are different varieties, including very tiny farfalle (“butterfly” or, more commonly known as bow-tie pasta), but the most common type is the little stars, “Stelline.”

Pastina
Little Stars

Children in Italy get a first taste of pasta with pastina.  A common “soup” is made with the pasta, water, egg, and parmesan.  The result is an easy to eat (and make!) dish, that’s soft, warm, and filling, perfect for small children.  However, don’t think that this amazing dish can only be consumed by kids!  Adults can find it to be just what you need when you’re sick or when the weather outside is begging you to curl up in sweats and a blanket on the couch.

Mmmmm

Since I always have pasta, eggs, and cheese in my kitchen, this is  a great go-to comfort food for me.  Also, remember, it’s April.  The weather’s almost demanding I make this.  Plus, the time that it takes to make is so short it should be criminal.

Stelline is my first choice of pastina to make, but it’s hard to find around here (unless I want to go down to Little Italy where it is found in abundance).  Instead, I’m using Acini de Pepe–another very small pasta, albeit some do not classified it as pastina.  Acini de Pepe (“peppercorns”) is a tiny, bead-like pasta that can replace Stelline, or any other pastina variety, just fine if that’s all you’re able to find in your local supermarket.

"Peppercorns"

Ok.  Enough already.  Here’s the recipe for a small serving of it.  When I make this comforting dish, it’s because I REALLY want it so, being the glutton that I so proudly am, I double the recipe.  If your SO is brave enough to try it (as mine was not) doubling should work out well, too.  I hope you enjoy this classic Italian, cold-curing dish as much as I do!  Buon Apetito!

Classic Egg and Cheese Pastina

  • 1/4 cup pastina
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated Parmesan
  • Fresh ground pepper
  1. Bring one cup of water to boil in small saucepan.
  2. Add pastina and salt and cook until most of the water is absorbed, 3-4 minutes (depending on your stove).
  3. Turn off heat and stir in egg, letting it cook in the hot pasta.
  4. Add butter, cheese and pepper.
  5. Savor bowl of comfort under a blanket, on the couch, with a good book    😀
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