I was bought up on copious amounts of Pastina. It is quick to cook and prepare and really warms up your belly on a cold winters day. Saying that, pastina is a staple ingredient in our home through the seasons.
I have four children and could not wait to begin the weening stage, because in the Italian shops you could buy baby pastina. When we would go on holiday to the Lakes, I would make my youngest Chiara, pastina and pour it into a flask. My husband would laugh at me when I would say ‘Time for a pastina break now’. Also ensured I had enough bowls and spoons with me for Rocco, Natalia and Santino. So that’s it more or less from birth my children found pastina and their addiction to pasta. It is definitely a hereditary thing!!
I think one of the great things around this delicate pasta is the variety you can buy to begin with. From tiny dainty stars, leaves and mini balls which are my favourite. I would say to the children, ‘Which pastina would you like tonight’, like a whirlwind they would run past me to the pasta cupboard and then fight and decide over which one they would go for. Generally Chiara would always win, to keep the peace, thankfully. To this day, I still cook far too much. So I go along the idea of a small handful per serving.
Pastina is cooked in a stock. In our family home it is always chicken stock, but vegetable stock is also delicious. A stock cube is fine and very speedy when you are in a hurry but homemade stock just tastes amazing. Boil up some chicken stock, add some fresh basil slightly torn, and pour in your pastina, cook for around ten minutes and serve, it is like a soup, not a risotto consistency.
We would also have pimped up pastina. My sister Daniela would always like it with some red pasatta added into the chicken stock, the colour changes to a velvety ruby red. Whilst mums favourite is pastina with egg. Cracking an egg into the pastina 2 minutes before serving, then stir and enjoy. The egg thickens up the pastina. I have always just liked my pastina cooked in simply chicken stock. I would then sit at the dinner table and get crumbs everywhere to annoy mum by tearing my bread and drowning it in the broth. I still do this now but just annoy my husband instead. A simple pleasure.