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Pastina is the Trending Pasta Dish Made Using these Six Tiny Pasta Shapes

Pastina recipes are versatile, healthy, and make the ultimate quick comfort meal

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By Bon Appetit US | November 18, 2023 | Recipes

Ronzoni's pastina has been discontinued—but there are lots of little pastas to know and love.

If you haven’t heard the news, I’m devastated to be the one to break it to you: Ronzoni has discontinued its production of pastina. In an announcement in early January, the company said that they couldn’t secure a producer for the tiny pasta shape and would no longer be offering it to its customers.

Fans were understandably upset. For many Italian Americans, pastina is more than an adorable, star-shaped pasta—it’s the nostalgic centerpiece of childhood. Picture: You are a kid. You have a cold. Your parent cooks pastina in broth and tops it with butter and Parmesan and brings it to you in bed. What could be better than that?

Alas, Ronzoni’s pastina may be gone (at least for now), but don’t worry, tiny pasta shape lovers, there is good news: There are other small pasta shapes that can fill the pastina-shaped hole in your heart. Though not all are one-to-one swaps for pastina, all are extremely cute.

Acini di Pepe

This pasta shape, which translates to “grains of pepper,” adds a burst of springy, chewy texture to any dish. Although slightly larger than the original pastina shape, acini di pepe still works well as a substitute. Try it with these brothy meatballs—the recipe calls for fregola, but acini di pepe would work well.

@foodmymuse Lemon Parm Pastina 🍋(Acini Di Pepe)…so cozy, comes together in one pan in 20 min! Everyone in my family was a fan and it has been on repeat 🫶🏻. Tip: don’t add lemon juice until it is almost done because it evaporates and doesn’t do much. Do add lemon zest however while cooking! Rubbing the salt with lemon zest makes it release the oils and be super fragrant. Ingredients: •1 cup acini di pepe. •3.5-4.5 water or stock. •2 lemons. •4 tbsp unsalted butter. •1 cup grated parmigiano reggiano (more for topping). •salt/pepper to taste. •Olive oil. Directions: 1.- add some oil to a pan, and toast the pasta for 2-3 min until slightly golden. 2.- add the zest of 1 lemon to the pasta along with the water, 1 cup at a time. Add a bit of salt. 3.- simmer until pasta is al dente and there is water left over. I like it pretty brothy. 4.- squeeze half a lemon on to the pasta and add parmigiano. Cook mixing together for 1 more min. 5.- turn heat off and add butter. Mix it vigorously until emulsified into the pasta water. 6.- zest the other lemon and rub some salt with it. Add the lemon salt to the pasta. Serve with more parmigiano and black pepper on top. #pastina #lemonparmpasta #lemonbutter #pastaallimone #acinidipepe #onepotpasta #comfortfood ♬ original sound - Nadia Aidi

Fregola Sarda

Speaking of fregola: This is another small, roughly spherical pasta that would absolutely love to step in for pastina. It’s a bit larger, which can offer a touch more toothsomeness, but we celebrate that. Fregola shines in pasta salads but also works wonders in concert with the bright snap of peas, airy mint, and luxurious ricotta in this remixed pasta e fagioli.

@eva_nanna new traditional italian recipe❤️ #asmr #asmrfood #italianfood #italianrecipe #cooking #recipe ♬ Sa sardegna turistica - Maria Carta

Israeli Couscous

Much larger than Moroccan couscous but still small compared to most pasta shapes, Israeli couscous is known as ptitim in Hebrew. Like pastina, it’s made from semolina and fairly neutral in flavour, so it can support whichever flavuor you choose to pair with it, you crazy kid.

@food_bylucy ONE POT SERIES, EPISODE 1 | ISRAELI COUS COUS WITH BRAISED VEGETABLES #easyquickrecipe #onepotmeals #onepot #israelicouscous #pearlcouscous #braisedvegetables #vegetarian #vegetables #dinnerideas #dinnerrecipes #simplerecipes #onepotrecipes #vegetarianrecipe #eggplant #zucchini ♬ original sound - Lucy Rosenberg


As a short tubular pasta, ditalini is ready to scratch your nostalgic itch: Adult SpaghettiOs. This familiar classic is updated for your discerning adult palate—but at the end of the day, it can still do the heavy lifting as pasta in a soul-warming tomato sauce, made velvety smooth with a touch of cream and tweaked with a wink of spice. Also fun: this chicken tiny-noodle soup.

@calamitykyle One pot creamy tomato ditalini #onepotmeals #onepotpasta #pasta #easyrecipe ♬ original sound - Kyle Anderson


While it’s surprisingly controversial among our staff, orzo is a key player in many pasta salads. Is it the tiniest pasta? No. Will it give your dishes a hearty, chewy base? You bet. For the orzo doubters, try it in this one-skillet chicken recipe, where it rubs elbows with fennel, leeks, and lots of butter.

@dannylovespasta Replying to @alliclaire6 Pastina is Italian Penicillin. Full recipe here: @dannylovespasta #pastina #pastinarecipe #orzo ♬ original sound - Danny Loves Pasta


@foodsofjane It's 14° outside today...we're making pastina, the way I grew up eating it. The magic ratio for me is 1 cup stelline : 3 cups broth. I always measure the butter and parm with my ❤️ but here, I used around 4 tbsp butter and 1/2 cup parmesan cheese. #pastina #stelline #minipasta #cooking #pasta #noodles #easyrecipe #viralfood #comfortfood #fyp #pastatiktok #pastatock #foodtock ♬ Starry Eyed Surprise - Paul Oakenfold & Shifty Shellshock & Crazy Town

Yes! Stelline can still be found! It’s sold by several pasta brands that compete with Ronzoni, so you can still live out your pastina dreams. Grate your Parmesan, simmer your broth, and prepare your butter—stelline is here to save the day.

This story originally appeared on Bon Appetit.