Legacy of Passion

Alphabet Pastina with Broccoli Rabe Butter


Pastina (literally, “little pasta”) with butter is a baby’s first solid food throughout Italy, and revisited in adulthood whenever comfort food is in order. I’ve started making a variation using broccoli rabe butter. It is an ideal way for children to develop an early liking for these miraculously healthful greens. Like any pasta, it tastes best served immediately after cooking, and piping hot. Cool it down to warm for babies, of course.

Recipe by Julia della Croce
Julia is one of America’s foremost authorities on Italian cooking. She is a James Beard Award winning author and has written over 15 cookbooks.

Serves: 4 children
Prep: 20 mins
Cook: ~25 mins
Total: ~45 mins


  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, or to taste, at room temperature
  • 3 tablespoons broccoli rabe puree
  • 1 cup “alphabet” pastina or other tiny pastina shapes
  • 3 teaspoons salt
  • ½ cup pasta cooking water to add for moisture as needed
  • Grated cheese for the table, optional



1. Beat the butter and broccoli rabe puree together.

2. Bring 3 quarts water to a boil. Stir in the pastina and salt. Cook according to package directions. Drain and transfer to a bowl. While still piping hot, stir in the green butter, adding a little of the reserved hot pasta cooking water as needed to moisten. Serve at once. Pass grated cheese at the table, if you like.



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