Pastina are tiny little pasta stars that are usually hit with some cream and Parmesan cheese, giving it a simple, yet grand treatment. It’s sort of the polenta of the pasta world. Many an Italian will tell you it’s one of their favorite comfort foods which brings back memories of family and joy. Since this pasta cooks very quickly and is quite delicate, my version for the Instant Pot is going to give you more of a porridge treatment where I use a larger broth to pasta ratio where the results are like a rich, thick soup at the end. A final kiss of premium dairy and some optional eggs and marinara send it over the top. Pastina Porridge is one of the newest go-to bowls of bliss and Goldilocks is now always knocking on this bear’s door.
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Pressuring the Pastina
The Finishing Touches
To Make It Truly Luxurious…
The Taste Test
- 6 cups chicken or garlic broth
- 1 1/4 cups pastina (about half a 12-ounce box)
- 1 cup heavy cream or half-and-half
- 1 cup either grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano Cheese or a mix of the two, plus more for topping
- 1 (5.2-ounce) package Boursin or 3/4 cup of my herb cheese
- 1-2 teaspoons black pepper
- 2 large eggs (optional)
- 1/4-1/2 cup marinara sauce (optional, use your favorite brand)
- Add the broth and pastina to the Instant Pot and stir well.
- Secure the lid and move the valve to the sealing position. Hit Cancel followed by Manual or Pressure Cook on High Pressure for 3 minutes. Quick release when done (NOTE: If liquid spurts out of the valve upon quick releasing due to the starch from the pasta, place a dish rag or paper towels over the valve to sop it up and avoid any mess).
- Add the cream, grated cheese, herb cheese and black pepper to the pastina in the pot. Stir until fully melded and combined.
- If using (and I suggest you do), crack the egg into it and stir for 30 seconds along with the marinara sauce.
- Let rest for 2-10 minutes before serving (see Jeff’s Tips) and top with additional pepper and Parmesan and/or Pecorino Romano, if desired.
The longer the pastina rests when done, the more it will continue to absorb everything around it as it gets larger and thickens. If you want it thinner, simply add more cream.
If you want this spicier, add 1-2 teaspoons of white pepper (more pungent and fragrant than black) and/or crushed red pepper flakes as well as black in Step 3 when adding the final ingredients.
To reheat any leftovers (although it actually also tastes amazing cold) and if you want it creamier, add additional cream or milk to the pastina when reheating to reconstitute the sauce.