Acini di pepe. Ideas for "pasta and some sauce" vs tossed into soup?
- Kris in Beijing Apr 15, 2013 11:09 AM
Just scored a huge box of Acini di pepe.
I'd like to use it as a "real thing," not as a tiny floating addendum to soup.
Has anyone tried AdP like couscous?
Maybe cook almost like a risotto?
You're best off with a sauce that's really "clingy" - like something with a cheese or bechamel base - because there's no way for those tiny pasta bits to really hold the sauce.
You can also use it in cold salads or hot dishes as you would orzo or Israeli couscous.
As I recall, acini di pepe are small pasta similar to couscous. My wife sautes aromatic vegetables like onions, celery, bell pepper and carrots. She then cooks the tiny pasta, and adds the drained pasta to the vegetables.
As a child, if I were staying at my aunt's house and feeling under the weather, she would cook me pastina (a tiny bit smaller than A de P)and serve it in a little bowl. She'd put a few of pats of sweet butter on it, stir until it was melted, and then pour over a little bit of warm milk or cream. You could add a pinch of salt or a pinch of sugar. Comfort food to the max, and quick (unlike risotto).
Acini di pepe, which means "peppercorns," are meant to be cooked in soup, particularly broth, and that is considered pretty real. You could cook them like risotto for a pastasciutta. I've seen recipes for pennette cooked like risotto, and acini di pepe could probably be treated the same.
I use it instead of rigatoni in my timpano, because it sets up nicely in the bechamel, and I didn't want any holes. The only thing I don't like about it is that if any drop on the floor, they're hard to find, and can even roll to the next room.
My daughter-in-law has a recipe for a sweet fruit salad that treats it like it was tapioca.
I have a recipe more like a risotto. Broccoli is added and at the last minute, some grape tomatoes. It is flavored with balsamic vinegar but served warm. The recipe was in one of those booklets they sell near the grocery checkout.
Chop an onion, and sauté in butter or oil.
When translucent add your acini di pepe. Stir to coat with oil, and toast the pieces. Keep stirring...some will look burnt.
Add in a can of chickpeas (optional) and water (2:1 ratio-like rice). Salt.
Stir, let it come up to a boil. Cover and simmer. Cook till water is absorbed...like rice.
Summer favorite: Whir sweet cherry tomatoes, red or yellow, plus fresh basil, chive, & oregano, & pour over acini di pepe cooked al dente & drained (but not rinsed0 & returned to cooking pot. The hot pasta will soak up the tomato juices. Stir well to distribute bits of herb & tomato skin. Beautiful in a white bowl that you fill to the top. Proportions: 1/2 pound of acini di pepe to 2 pints of tomatoes. Salt? Depends on how salty the pasta water was. Fresh ground pepper is great. Olive oil not necessary. I like it best room temp an hour or two after making it; cold, the next day, may be improved by a little olive oil & lemon or lime. No other pasta has the same synergy with raw tomato, the same visual beauty. Can also be used like Israeli couscous--lightly browned in a bit of oil & then covered several times over w/ boiling water.