Pumpkin Pastina

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pastina In many Italian households children are first introduced to pasta by way of pastina. Pastina literally means “little pasta”. Today you can find shapes of many different forms, from tiny dots to stars, alphabets, and many more. My own kids grew up with pastina, simply made with a little butter, and grated cheese, but this recipe takes it over the top with a beautiful presentation in a pumpkin, hence the name pumpkin pastina.

To this day it’s the kind of comfort food that my family and I still crave today.

When I first saw this recipe in Michael Chiarello’s cookbook…The Tra Vigne… all my fond memories of pastina came rushing back, I just had to make this!

Tiny pastina cooked in a warm broth flavored with onion, & thyme, adding to that, creamy parmesan cheese, and roasted butternut squash.

I can barely describe how good this is, it almost didn’t make it to the table, I’m warning you you’ll be tempted to eat it right over the stove with a spoon!

roasted pumpkin By all means, you don’t have to serve it in a pumpkin like it’s featured here, but the presentation is so eye catching and very festive for this time of year, and besides, you have to roast your butternut squash anyway so why not do it all on the same baking sheet.
This recipe serves four, and the pumpkin I used was on the small side about 6 or 8 inches round. I was going to use the green one in the photo as well but decided against it.
Just cut the top, scoop out the seeds, oil it inside and out, and season with salt and pepper. Place the lids back on the top when baking.
For the butternut squash, I just cut it in half, scoop out the seeds, oil it inside and out add salt and pepper, and then place it cut side down on baking sheet.
Both will cook at 375F for about 40 min’s. You want your pumpkin still firm enough to stand up, so depending on what size you use, you might want to keep checking it.
NOTE: Do all of this earlier in the day to get it out of the way, the pastina cooks up fast.
autumn leaves This has nothing to do with the recipe at all, but I just wanted to show you the beautiful colors that were on these leaves that I saw when I was taking a walk the other day, I just love the fall colors!

pastina Michael added turkey in his recipe and cooked the pastina like risotto, adding the broth little by little. I didn’t do that.
You certainly could add turkey to it if you like, for a more heartier meal. I didn’t do that either. I might however, use his suggestion to chiffonade some chard or spinach into it next time.
In a pot, sauté about 1 cup of onion in olive oil, season with salt and pepper and fresh thyme.
Pour in 4 cups of stock (I used chicken) and bring to a gentle boil.
When stock is boiling pour in 3/4 lb. of your dry pastina or any tiny pasta.
When al dente, fold in about 1 cup of your roasted butternut squash that has been scooped out, and 1/2 cup of good parmesan cheese. Season it to taste with salt and pepper.
The consistency should be loose, so you might want to add more stock to it, so have extra on hand if need be.
Pumpkin pastina is the perfect meal to make this fall.
Buon Appetito!
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  1. I am from Melbourne Australia and I recently made your delicious pastina meal and it was enjoyed by all the family. Thank you!!

  2. Beautifully done…pastina for grown ups!!! I lived on this stuff as a kid with a little pat of butter or meat sauce and parmesean mixed in. I really need to get back to the basics…pastina is sooooooo good! I am a fan of pumpkin too, this looks incredible, mouth watering.

  3. Beautifully done…pastina for grown ups!!! I lived on this stuff as a kid with a little pat of butter or meat sauce and parmesean mixed in. I really need to get back to the basics…pastina is sooooooo good! I am a fan of pumpkin too, this looks incredible, mouth watering.

  4. Bravo! I was raised the same way. I think I’m going to make this for my 88-year-old mother before Thanksgiving.

  5. You can count me as a pastina child too. My Great Grandmother Elivira Ferrante would prepare it for us regularly. And although she was just 4’10”, she would grate the Locatelli cheese for the pastina to the finest gradient I have ever seen. Putting this together with pumpkin is, like so many of your recipe ideas, genius. Ciao!

  6. Oh, what a lovely presentation! ANd the colours on that leaf are fabulous 🙂 Bellisima!

  7. Fantastic Marie, as you know pastina is a major staple in this house:) Love the pizza too – I’m hungry now:)

  8. Wow… how did I miss this one… I love butternut squash and will be trying this recipe… Thanks so much..


  9. There’s an award for you on my blog. Please stop by when you get a chance.

  10. I do believe that this just made it to my Thanksgiving Eve dinner!! Yum!

  11. This pumpkin looks so delicious! Beautiful dish!

  12. What a coincidence–I just saw this MC episode this morning! It looked fantastic–and now I see it again here. Perhaps someone is trying to tell me something…

  13. Oh joy! I found the right blog for me, I just love italian food!! I am a swedish woman living in Asia, eating nothing BUT italian food to my husbands despair:-

    Have a great day

    //Gunilla i Singapore

  14. i swear Italians have some of best food, ever. it’s just such great feel good food. pretty pumpkin… 🙂

  15. How wonderful! I just love creative pumpkin recipes. That pastina is something that I’ll have to check out.

  16. How beautiful! I had pastina all the time as a child and I still make it for my family, especially if someone is sick. It’s so comforting!

  17. Hi Marie, you know I am collecting all your comfort food recipes to try to entice my grown up kids to move to the USA haha, if this does not work then I will just have to retire to Italy, I will start with your Polenta and spicy sausage tonight working my way to the Pastina, wish me luck. have a wonderful week, hugs, Kathy

  18. Oh WOW!
    Karla & Karrie

  19. This looks so wonderful! I must try it soon. I also ate pastina growing up, so your post really took me back. But we never had it this way! Just gorgeous photos, too. Thanks for sharing this.

  20. This is really beautiful! I love seeing fun savory recipes like this for Fall/Halloween :).

  21. Dear Marie, this look delicious!! Love the pumpkin!! look so tasty,xxGloria

  22. I’m taking the knife to that little pumpkin that is sitting on my table this weekend, Marie! What a beautiful presentation — and, of course, pastina is pure comfort food. I feel better just thinking about eating it. 🙂

  23. What is not to like about this post – delicious food, beautiful photography and lovely text. I suppose it is just like all your other work – brilliant. If I had to pick a “Fall” recipe in the blogosphere this year, this will be my choice!

  24. I have no idea whether you do tags, but I have tagged you – more details on my site.

    Why? Because I wanted to share these recipes. Simple as that.

  25. This is definitely some serious fall comfort food. Looks wonderful! And I love the leaf picture.

  26. Looking good here – I didn’t get introduced into pasta until later in life – BUT, nevertheless this still looks great!


  27. Oh damn that looks good! Beautiful presentation. Fall is my favorite season with the bounty and the colors. Youy need to do your own cookbook with ideas like this.

  28. Never had pastina before, but all looks so good, both the Pastina and the beautiful Autumn leaves. I seem to recall Michael making this on one of his shows a long time ago. Haven’t seen him in a while. I miss him.

  29. Awwwww, so many pastina memories!!!! I love it!

    Claudia, Your funny!! lol

  30. ok – your stuffed pumpkin totally kicked my stuffed pumpkin’s ass

  31. Great colours! I like that you served it in the pumpkins.

  32. Boy does this bring back childhood memories!!! Love pastina til this day. Looks delicious. Love your presentation too!!

  33. Oh my God this delicious dish took me to my childhood, my daddy always gave us a kind of pastina that he called “semi di melone” I still buy it for my nephew…
    I love the pictures

  34. UsGreeks use pastina for soups and sometimes savory pies. I like how you used them like a risotto.

  35. Oh Marie you totally brought back fond memories of eating pastina with my Nonna…I used to eat it with ricotta and butter though…this looks delicious!

  36. This looks wonderful! I adore pumpkin so I’ll have to make this for sure!

  37. Wow! Wow! Wow! I’ve been considering making something very similar but with risotto, but I like this suggestion better…eliminating all of the standing and stirring. Plus I LOVE the presentation.

  38. Looking so festive Marie…I LOVE the presentation!!!

    Of course I haven’t had lunch yet and I’m straving, wish I could reach right through the photo and start eating!!!

    Great post!!!!

  39. Hi! marie
    good idea your recipe and beautiful colors

  40. My mom fed me pastina with a little butter, milk and sugar. Talk about comforting.
    I could dig in to this version with pleasure!

  41. I love the fall colours too and fall dishes as well. This is a recipe for kids and “kids at heart”:D

  42. I have a beautiful butternut squash sitting on my kitchen counter and I’ve been trying to figure out what to do with it. This is it! Autumn comfort food. Yum.

  43. When I visit your blog, I get so hungry. I wanted to tell you that I took your advice and made baked tomato halves with olive oil and some spices. It was fantastic. Thank you.


  44. Your pastina story brought back comforting memories. Pastina was among the first solid foods for my children, yes, with melted butter! They loved it. I don’t hear of too many people serving the babies this. It is def a comfort food, and time.

  45. Wow! This looks so tasty! Beautiful pictures, I can taste it from here.

  46. It is so chilly here this morning, I would love this for lunch/supper.

  47. Pastina is such a lovely word. We call it alphabet pasta, but how boring is that?

    I love the idea of cooking the pastina like risotto. And of course, your presentation is so lovely I just want to reach in. I’ll settle for bookmarking this 🙂

    Your blog is such an inviting place, did you know?

  48. My 2 boys grew up on pastina as well, with butter and cheese, just like your kids. They still crave it too (and sometimes Mom as well, lol).

  49. Oh dear, as soon as I saw the word pastina it reminded me of my mother-in-law. When “papa” has eaten too much for lunch, all he wants to eat later is some pastina!

  50. That first photo is as good as any gourmet cookery book! Looks like everyone will be trying this one – hope the stores don’t run out.

  51. Marie,
    This looks so fun and festive! I’ve never had anything like this, but boy am I ready!

  52. Paula, Pastina soup is fantastic when your sick!

    Lucy, I’d have you over all the time!

    Mike, Thanks!!!

    Food Hunter, What a nice Mom!

    Stacey, I agree about MC, he dosen’t get enough recognition.

    Maryann, Thanks Bud. Hug to you too!

    Susan, Are you really making it tonight?

    Hi Pat, Thanks, and have a fun trip!

    Nicole, The pumpkin really makes it!

    Gabi, I love fall too!

    Susan, We’re empty nesters, there’s plenty of room for you and Jeff! You might not like the winters though!

    Thanks alot Bunny!

  53. This sounds so good, seriously this sounds and looks wonderful, and the presentation is beautiful.

  54. First the savory veg ricotta pie, now the pumpkin pastina. So… have you considered the idea of my coming to live with you? 😉

  55. Oh that looks so comforting and delicious- I need some right now!
    Those leave are so beautiful- I love Fall!

  56. This looks so festive and delicious. I thought it was corn at first. I much prefer the idea of pastina! Thanks for the suggestion.

  57. Mmmmmm…I can almost smell how good this must taste! My children grew up on pastina too!

    I like Michael Chiarello’s recipes — he’s Calabrese like my husband 🙂

    Hugs, Pat

  58. What a great dish! I’ve always loved pastina and I make it many different ways. I have my squash roasting in the oven. I’ll be having this tonight!

  59. We all grew up on pastina! Thanks for the memories, Marie. Your presentation is gorgeous!!
    big hug,
    Maryann xox

  60. Marie,
    Michael Chiarello’s cookbooks are among my favorite. He is a little bit of Napa and a lot about Italian comfort food.

    I love your leaf photo, but you knew I would!

  61. My mom always made me pastina as a kid usually with a little butter and milk. This looks delicious.

  62. There is so much I like about this dish I don’t know where to begin. It sounds very comfort foody and I love the presentation! I’d empty that pumpkin all on my own.

  63. Ooooh Marie, what a fabulous presentation!! Ok, now I wish I was your favorite neighbor and I’d get invited to sit down!!! YUM, that looks so awesome!!!

  64. I also grew up on pastina … both served on a plate with a little olive oil and grated pecorino, and also in broth with chicken as a soup. YUM! To this day, pastina soup is what I crave if I’m under the weather. I like Michael Chiarello. His recipes often mimic the southern Italian food of my heritage. This looks great! Your presentation is so beautiful, too. I MISS, MISS, MISS the fall colors from Indiana and Chicagoland. Great post!

  65. Lisa, Good food memories for sure!

    Jen,I hope you get to try it, you won’t be dissapointed!

    Cathy, I’d be happy to send some to you, just say the word!

    Laurie, I totally agree with you about the turkey addition, I wouldn’t like it either. Also, the pumpkin was just used for presentation, and I didn’t stick it back in the oven.

  66. Marie!!! This is awesome! 🙂 I love Michael Chiarello, but I don’t think I would have enjoyed the turkey in with the squash and pastina! I know, I bad. 🙂
    (maybe pancetta though)
    Pastina is a staple in our home! But, I have never used it for anything other than making the kiddies happy! I love this dish, it looks beautiful, and I can totally imagine the taste being so homey and comfortable.
    After you put the pastina in the pumpkin, did you put it back in the oven to bake at all?

    Your fall pictures rock!! 🙂 🙂

  67. Oh Marie. Have I mentioned today how much I love your blog? I was raised on pastina (which my grandmother pronounced “pastine” — no “a”) and when I had my own babies, my mother would always tell me about how I grew up on pastina with a little butter and milk, and that she couldn’t believe that you can’t buy pastina in Alabama (it is HARD to find around here!) My older two children do not particulary like pasta (it truly pains me to write that — I’m working on this problem!) and I blame it on fact that I didn’t feed them enough pastina during their first two years of life. I cannot wait to try your recipe — I’ll either use some other tiny pasta I can find around here, or I’ll ask my mother to mail down some of the real stuff from Connecticut!

  68. This could be my all-time favorite recipe. YUM. I have some great squash sitting around ready to be used. I think I know what’s for supper tomorrow (I just finished putting cabbage rolls in the crockpot for tonight).


  69. It looks wonderful! I always ate pastina as a child.

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