January 16, 2024

Spicy Garlic & Tomato Pastina

Creamy, silky, cheesy with a kick… oh and not to mention quick and easy.

Need an easy comfort dish with minimal ingredients (mostly pantry staples) and minimal effort? Then, this spicy garlic & tomato pastina may be what you’re looking for. Pastina cooked in broth is the pinnacle of comfort food, and this spicy garlic version is no exception. With just six ingredients, a hot bowl of pasta is just 20 minutes away.

digging into a bowl of spicy garlic & tomato pastina with a spoon.


If you belong to the group that believes pastina disappeared with Ronzoni, it’s time to discover what pastina truly is. In simple terms, pastina refers to extremely tiny pasta. While Ronzoni discontinued their pastina (which sparked a viral trend), numerous other brands offer similarly small pasta varieties. Some of these brands may not label it as pastina, making it crucial to understand the product before making a purchase. This type of pasta is typically round or star-shaped, but with a bit of exploration, you might discover other shapes.


I ALWAYS keep a few boxes of pastina on hand. Below are a few of my favorites to use.

Good & Gather Stelline (this is the shape I typically shoot with)
Barilla Pastina
Delallo Acini di Pepe


While you can treat it like traditional pasta—boil, drain, and sauce—due to its size, pastina is an excellent shape for one-pot dishes. You can add just enough water to cook the pastina without having to drain it. The result is a super starchy and creamy pasta dish. Additionally, while this recipe serves 3, pastina is ideal for single-serving meals.



You get what you put in. If you use water, you’ll end up with lackluster pastina. Always opt for a flavorful broth to make this dish. Personally, I prefer using Better than Bouillon as it allows me to control the intensity of my broth. Remember to salt accordingly; I typically do this at the beginning and then again after adding the Parmesan.


You determine how dry or soupy you want to make this dish. Always have a little extra both on hand, just incase you want to add a little more.


I find that some pans are better suited for this dish than others, with enamel-coated pans being the least preferable. They still work but require a little extra attention. Flat pastina, such as the stars used in this recipe, has a tendency to stick to the bottom. In the first few minutes of cooking, mix frequently. If some stick to the bottom, try scraping your spoon (not metal) against the bottom to loosen them up. The sticking will reduce as the pasta begins to soften.

a large bowl of spicy garlic & tomato pastina


  • Pastina – I used the Good & Gather brand for this recipe. Keep in mind if you use a smaller pastina you might just need to adjust the water slightly. If going for a smaller shape reduce the broth by 1/2 cup, you can always add more during cooking.
  • Garlic – You need… a lot. There is a reason why this is called “spicy garlic”. For the 1/2 box you need 10 fresh cloves.
  • Chicken Broth – You need a really flavorful broth. My go to is always Better than Bouillon.
  • Tomato Paste – Just plain old tomato paste, nothing flavored.
  • Parmesan Cheese – Fresh only!
  • Chili Flakes
  • Olive Oil


Cook the Garlic + Tomato Paste – In a pot over low heat, add 2 tbsp of olive oil. Add the sliced garlic and cook for 2 minutes. Ensure the heat is low enough so that the garlic doesn’t brown. Add the chili flakes and the tomato paste. Cook the tomato paste for 4-5 minutes, mixing regularly to ensure it doesn’t burn.

Add the Broth + Cook – Add the broth and bring it to a simmer. Once it reaches a simmer, add the pastina. Heads up! Depending on the type of pan you use and the pastina you choose, the pasta may stick to the bottom. If that’s the case, mix more regularly; as the pasta softens, it won’t stick as much. Once the pasta is done, and the dish reaches the right consistency (if it isn’t creamy enough, feel free to add a bit more broth to loosen it up), turn off the heat and add the Parmesan cheese. Mix and serve.

adding the pastina to the broth

large bowl of sautéing the garlic, chili flakes and tomato paste


Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container for 3-4 days. When ready to reheat place into a saucepan and add a splash of broth to rehydrate and loosen up the pasta. Heat on low until warmed throughout.

Need more pasta? You have come to the right place. Try the below recipes!

Creamy Caramelized Shallot Pasta
Spicy Caper Pasta
Crispy Lemon Artichoke Pasta

This post contains affiliate links, which means that I may receive a commission if you make a purchase using these links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

January 16, 2024

Spicy Garlic & Tomato Pastina

Print Recipe Pin Recipe
The pinnacle of comfort food, and this spicy garlic version is no exception.
Course Dinner, Lunch
Cuisine Italian
Keyword One Pot Meal, Pastina, Quick & Easy, Under 30 Minutes
Prep Time 3 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 23 minutes
Servings 3 people


  • 1/2 lb pastina
  • 10 garlic cloves sliced
  • 3 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1/2 – 3/4 tsp chili flakes adjust as needed
  • 4 cup chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
  • olive oil


  • In a pot over low heat, add 2 tbsp of olive oil. Add the sliced garlic and cook for 2 minutes.
  • Add the chili flakes and tomato paste. Cook down the paste for 4-5 minutes.
  • Pour in the chicken broth and bring to a simmer. Once at a simmer pour in the pastina.
  • Mix the pastina frequently to ensure it doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan. Cook until the pasta is al dente. If the pasta has absorbed too much broth or if too much has evaporated, feel free to add a splash more of broth to loosen it up.
  • Turn off the heat. Toss in the Parmesan cheese. Mix to combine and serve.

RATE + REVIEW What did you think of this recipe?

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating

  1. 5 stars
    FANTASTIC!! The flavor is really wonderful. We used farro instead of pastina because we had farro to use. It was seriously delish!