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Tomato Pastina – An Italian Comfort Food

Since I was a little kid, tomato pastina has always been my comfort food.

I have such warm, fuzzy memories of sitting around the kitchen table with my whole family as we dug into my mom’s delicious, simple dish. 

Even now, as a 30-something,  just looking at that sauce simmering on the stove will take me right back to those carefree childhood evenings.

It’s like a big, warm hug in the form of a bowl. 

tomato pastina in plate

On hectic work nights, especially when rushed off my feet, I find myself opting for this recipe more than ever.

Knowing that a warm, filling meal is half an hour away gives me such a sense of peace of mind.

Best of all, it’s so easy on the wallet to throw together a big pot for all.

Tomato pastina has been a fundamental constant throughout the many phases of my life.

No matter where or how much things may change as the years pass, coming back to this simple dish is like coming home. It will be a go-to for many more years to come.


Onion: I used a sweet white onion, as its sweet flavor pairs exceptionally well with the tomatoes.

However, depending on your preference, you can use any type of onion, such as yellow or red.

Garlic: I’m a huge fan of garlic, and I couldn’t resist adding some minced garlic to this recipe.

It provides a pleasant aroma. I like to use fresh garlic, but you can also substitute garlic powder.

Oil: I use high-quality extra-virgin olive oil to sauté the onions and garlic.

Tomato Purée: The base of this dish. Opt for a good quality puree for the best results.

If you have some fresh, ripe tomatoes and more time, you can also make your own tomato sauce.

Pastina: I used stelline, the classic star-shaped pastina, but you can also use risoni (also known as orzo) or acini pepe.

Broth: I used a simple meat-based broth, but you can easily substitute it with vegetable broth or even just hot water if you don’t have any stock on hand.

Basil: To give a touch of freshness

How To Make This Easy Recipe

Prepare the Ingredients: Start by chopping the onions and mincing the garlic.

Meanwhile, Meanwhile, heat up the broth or stock in a separate saucepan.

Cook the Tomato Sauce In a high-sided pan, sauté the onion and garlic in olive oil with a pinch of salt; this step helps release the onion’s water and prevents it from burning.

sauté the onion and garlic in olive oil

Once the onion becomes transparent, add the tomato puree and a cup of water or broth.  (if you like a bit of heat, add a pinch of chili).

Cook the Tomato Sauce

Cook the sauce for approximately 10-15 minutes,

Add the Pastina: Once the tomato sauce has thickened slightly, add the pastina and continue stirring constantly.

Add the Pastina to the tomato sauce

As the pastina cooks, gradually add more hot broth or water as needed to prevent it from sticking or drying out.

Finish and Serve: When the pastina is al dente, remove from the heat and stir in freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

Cook tomato Pastina in a pan

Serve the tomato pastina hot, garnished with a few fresh basil leaves if desired.

Recipe Notes & Tips:

  • Always make sure the broth or stock you’re using is hot when adding it to the pastina to maintain the temperature.
  • Stir the pastina frequently while it’s cooking, as the small size of the pasta makes it stick to the bottom of the pan.
  • Add more broth or water only when you see the mixture starting to dry out too much. The key is to keep the pastina moist and saucy.
  • For an extra creamy texture, you can stir in a dollop of ricotta cheese. 

What can I serve with a tomato pastina

Here are some ideas that come to mind:

    Garlic Bread: Serve some warm and crusty garlic bread on the side, great for making “Scarpetta” (when you’re done and there’s that sauce bottom left you can’t leave on the plate)to the sauce.

    Green Salad: Easy to prepare. I like to serve it with tomato pastina.

    Use a mix of lettuce, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, and your favorite dressing.

    Grilled or Air fryer Vegetables: Cook colorful vegetables like zucchini, broccoli, and carrots.

    I make them very often in the air fryer, which makes less mess.


    Can I make tomato pastina without onion and garlic?

    Although onion and garlic add depth of flavor, you can omit them if you prefer a milder taste.

    Can I make a vegetarian version of tomato pastina?

    Yes, you can make a vegetarian version using vegetable broth instead of meat stock and vegetarian cheese.

    3. Can I freeze the leftovers?

    I would not recommend freezing it.

    Creamy Tomato pastina Recipe

    Tomato Pastina Recipe Pintarest


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    Yield: 2 portion

    Tomato pastina

    A bowl of creamy tomato pastina, with fresh basil

    Tomato pastina is an effortless and quick Italian comfort food that you can whip up in no time for a heartwarming meal.

    Prep Time 3 minutes
    Cook Time 22 minutes
    Total Time 3 minutes


    • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
    • 1 small white onion, diced
    • 1 cloves garlic, minced
    • 1 cup tomato purée
    • 3 cups hot broth or stock
    • 1 cup pastina (such as stelline or risoni)
    • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
    • Fresh basil leaves
    • Salt and black pepper, to taste


    1. In a medium pot, heat olive oil over medium/low heat. Add the diced onion and minced garlic. Sauté until the onion is translucent, about 3-5 minutes.
    2. Add the tomato puree and 1 cup of hot broth/water. Simmer for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
    3. Add the pastina to the sauce and continue to cook, stirring often, for 5-7 minutes or until the pasta is al dente. Add more broth or water if necessary to keep the mixture from drying out.
    4. Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the grated Parmesan cheese. Season with salt and pepper if needed.
    5. Serve the pastina hot, garnished with fresh basil leaves and Parmesan cheese.

    Did you make this recipe?

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