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Mar 9, 2008 02:06 PM

Very Small Pasta Sizes - Uses?

I've recently noticed a few varieties of pasta sizes I don't recall seeing before in my store. One was the size of a small bugle bead and others were almost as small as a pinhead. Does anyone know what these tiny sizes are typically used for - soups? Is there a good pasta cookbook that might include recipes for this type of pasta?

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  1. Ancini di pepe(frog eyes) are commonly used in soups, but can also be used as a risoto or polenta substitute as a side dish, usually cooked in stock.I like to add some cheese(grated reggiano) and some chopped parsley . Farina, even smaller, is served as a hot cereal, especially to small children in Italy.

    1 Reply
    1. re: chazzerking

      As chazzerking suggests, they are great cooked in stock with cheese and parsley. But I grew enormously fond of them in simple light soups in the evening in my years in Rome. We Americans tend to make so many of our soups heavy--with eatin' and drinkin' in them, as the Irish would say. But a nice broth with some pasta in them makes a wonderful light soup. So don't overlook the soup option.

    2. Ditali or ditalini with beans such as Pasta Fagioli (fasool) adjust pasta to the bean,,,,,,,,,,,, large fave and kidney with ditali ,lentals and small peas with ditalini then theres tubettini in minestrone .I have used small shells with brodo di pesci larger shells with seafood marinara when the schrimp,scungilli or calimari get enveloped in the macaroni "is that good!!!!"

      1. Orzo can sub for rice in any dish.

        6 Replies
        1. re: Joebob

          Ditto on Orzo, and I make "Orzotto"; if you have the time, cook it the same way you would a risotto. I like to do mine with lamb stock, onions, a bit of crushed tomatoes and a dash (and no more than that!) of cinnamon. Great side dish for roast lamb or chicken.

          1. re: HSBSteveM

            A second vote for "orzotto" (great coinage BTW). It's a lovely easy side dish.

            1. re: lupaglupa

              fyi...orzotto is a traditional dish made of barley in the Friuli region of northern Italy. The process of making orzotto is pretty much the same as the process of making risotto. Orzo pasta is named orzo because the Italian word for barley is orzo, and the orzo pasta is barley-shaped.

              But the pasta dish using orzo does sound delicious;) Sounds a lot like giouvetsi, minus the meat.

            2. re: HSBSteveM

              We make something similar and call it "Fauxzotto"!

              1. re: HSBSteveM

                Sounds great! I also make an Orzo Carbonara (though it's certainly not the true and traditional carbonara) from the recipe on Epicurious. I have also used other small shapes with the same recipe and they have turned out very well.
                (It's basically pancetta/bacon, onion, a bit of garlic, sauteed together, then add the pasta and some broth to cook, finish with parmesan and a slosh of cream.)

                1. re: HSBSteveM

                  I will have to try that! It sounds yummy. I have never made a lamb stock - now I have a reason.

              2. When you are sick, or want to feed kids, or just want a little snack, Pastina with a little salt and butter is fantastic. Been eating it that way since I was able to take solid food. I know people also put in soup, but since I don't make soup, I don't do that. I know it sounds a bit bland, but it's really good.

                7 Replies
                1. re: deborah24

                  That's exactly what I used to eat when I was sick growing up. My mom always cooked it in chicken broth to up the goodness. A little sprinkle of cheese on top is great too.

                  1. re: gini

                    Right on. Pastina in Brodo... my sister's favorite dish on the first family trip to Italy (she was 10).

                    1. re: gini

                      Ditto on the pastina. My daughter once broke my Italian father's heart by wolfing down a bowl of pastina and then asking him for more "grits".

                      1. re: gini

                        It's great sick food, but it's also great breakfast food. If I know I'm going to be busy non-stop all day, and probably won't have time to eat lunch (or have a long, important meeting which might run quite late) I have a bowl of small pasta shapes with a little butter and salt in the morning. Sort of like a savoury hot cereal, if you will. I find it both light on the stomach but very filling - I won't get hungry until 2pm sometimes. Gotta love carbo-loading.

                        1. re: Gooseberry

                          I do that too, eating the pasta for breakfast. I also like to melt some cheese in it. It is a real comfort food for me, but I will admit that I like the ABC macaroni and the little stars the best . . . and orzo!

                      2. re: deborah24

                        I enjoy Pastina and agree it tastes good with butter and salt.

                        1. re: deborah24

                          Hell, pastina is what I meant when I said farina. I guess that aphasia can be age related, even if I'm not that old

                        2. First, in soup. My new favorite is the Barilla mini penne, it's perfect. Also cold salads, rather than elbows, people will be amazed at your ingenuity. And as someone else mentioned, they're great comfort food served with butter and parmesan cheese as a side dish, I think all Italians had that growing up, especially when they were sick.