Pastina recipes are taking TikTok by storm, but the gluten-free community couldn’t participate in this viral trend because there wasn’t a gluten-free pastina option … until now! Learn about this classic Italian pasta shape and where you can now find a gluten-free version. This post contains affiliate links. Please see my disclosures.
If you’re active on social media, you’ve probably seen videos of people preparing pastina meals with Ronzoni. Unfortunately, Ronzoni doesn’t make gluten-free pastina, and much to the surprise of its beloved fans, the brand announced its discontinuation late last year.
If you’re new to pastina, it’s a small Italian pasta often used in soups or broths. It comes in various shapes, including stars, alphabet letters, and small tubes. The name “pastina” even means “little pasta” in Italian.
Like most pasta, pastina is made almost exclusively from wheat, but Jovial, a brand known for its delicious gluten-free brown rice pasta, has come out with a tiny star-shaped gluten-free pastina, and I wanted to be one of the first to try it!
The pastina is called stelline pasta, which means “little stars” in Italian. It’s made from organic brown rice flour and water and is oh-so-adorable!
While pastina is traditionally added to soups, broths, or stews for a comforting and hearty meal, it can also be cooked and served as a simple side dish topped with butter or olive oil and grated cheese.
However, in recent years, TikTok videos of people making creamy and cheesy pastina, which they call “Italian penicillin,” has gone viral.
I ordered a box of Jovial stelline pasta as soon as I spotted it online. Within days of receiving it, I decided to try my hand at making a gluten-free version of the famous TikTok pastina recipe.
Testing Gluten-Free Pastina
The viral Tiktok version of pastina looks like a creamy and cheesy bowl of porridge. It looked like a comforting bowl of mac and cheese made with tiny star-shaped pasta.
Here’s what I used to make the trending pastina dish:
- 2 cups of broth (more if needed)
- 1/2 cup gluten-free stelline pasta from Jovial
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1-2 tbsp of butter
- 1/2 cup of parmesan cheese, shredded
- Salt and pepper, to taste
To make it, start by bringing the broth to a boil, then adding the stelline pasta. Cook the pasta at a rolling boil until much of the broth is absorbed by the pastina and the pastina is soft. If needed, add more broth to get the just-right texture.
Remove the cooked pastina from the heat, then add a beaten egg and whisk so it incorporates without scrambling. This will give the pastina a creamy texture.
Next, add the butter, cheese, salt, and pepper, and mix until you have a creamy, porridge-like consistency.
Add additional shredded parmesan or chopped parsley on top (optional), and enjoy.
Remember, you can make pastina how you like it. It’s a versatile pasta and can be used in a variety of ways. Below are a few suggestions:
- If you don’t like parmesan, use asiago, pecorino romano, or any cheese your heart desires.
- Some people add lemon zest on top for a citrusy surprise.
- If you don’t like the cheesy TikTok version, cook the stelline pasta as directed on the package and top it with olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, and S&P for a simple yet tasty dish.
- Pastina is also the perfect addition to any soup recipe. Kids especially love it!
Where to Buy Gluten-Free Pastina
As of May 2023, Jovial’s gluten-free stelline pasta is available online. It will be available in Whole Foods in June 2023, and more retailers will carry the unique pasta shape by 2024.
All gluten-free varieties of Jovial pasta are certified gluten-free by the GFCO and hand-crafted on dedicated gluten-free equipment in Italy. The stelline pasta is Non-GMO verified, glyphosate-free, and kosher.
Another company that makes gluten-free pastina is Le Veneziane. The Italian-based company uses 100 percent pre-cooked corn flour to make its tiny tube-shaped pastina.
While I think brown rice offers a better texture than corn flour in general, I haven’t tried Le Veneziane pastina, so I don’t know if it’s good. However, I wanted to include Le Veneziane in this article because it offers small tube-shaped ditalini pasta, which I haven’t seen anywhere before.
While you can substitute gluten-free orzo or even break linguine noodles into small pieces to create tiny pasta pieces, it’s best to use the pastina shapes available for the best result.
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Gluten-Free TikTok Pastina
- 1 medium pot
- 2 cups vegetable or chicken broth more if needed
- 1/2 cup Jovial gluten-free stelline pasta
- 1 egg beaten
- 1-2 tbsp butter
- 1/2 cup parmesan cheese shredded
- salt to taste
- fresh ground pepper to taste
- Bring the broth to a boil over high heat, then add the stelline pasta. Reduce the heat to medium-high, and cook the pasta over a rolling boil until most of the broth is absorbed by the pastina and the pastina is soft. If needed, add more broth to get the just-right texture.
- Remove the pastina from the heat, then add a beaten egg and whisk while adding so it incorporates without scrambling.
- Add the butter, cheese, salt, and pepper, and mix until you have a creamy, porridge-like consistency.
- Add additional shredded parmesan on top (optional) or chopped parsley (optional). Enjoy immediately.