The smallest manufactured pasta shape is a perfect addition to wintertime soups. Pastina means “little pasta”, and appears in a variety of shapes, from stelline, little stars, to acini di pepe, little beads, to alfabeti, little alphabet letters, to quadrettini, little squares, to anellini, little rings, to ditalini, little fingertips – which are actually like little tubes, so my translation might be off. 🙂
Tonight I ate some homemade chicken soup spiked with pastina and lots of thyme. Perfect Italian comfort food. Like all pasta choices, the decision on shape depends on what the pasta is served with. Of the pastine, the little stars and the little beads are best in broth based soups, while the “larger” shapes, ditalini and quadrettini, are better fits with hearty soups. Minestrone, for example, would best hold the ditalini. Don’t ask me why — it’s just something you get a feel for over time.
It got me to thinking though. Surely there are some “rules” that someone has written down…In English, the National Pasta Association, has a nice page illustrating some shapes and sauce choices. Check it out for some ideas!
Lezione d’italiano: What’s the Italian name of the following pasta shapes? Put on your glasses!