Pastina with Sausage, Peas, and Za’atar

Pastina with Sausage, Peas, and Za’atar

Easy, fast, 5-ingredient recipe for Pastina or Pasta with sausage, peas, and za’atar. A comforting dish that is both quick and satisfying.

Pastina is one of those pasta shapes you totally forget about until you get to the grocery store and you see that box of bitty stars among the large pasta shapes. But it’s more than just mushy stars in broth. They come in other shapes such as farfalline, ditalini, risi, quadretti… I’ve chosen to use acini di pepe, which translates to “seeds of pepper”. They resemble pearl couscous, or Israeli couscous, though they are smaller.


I wanted to make pastina exciting by treating it like a regular pasta. The whole idea behind this dish was to have a little bit of each component in every bite… which makes it easy to just shovel in your mouth mindlessly. Be sure to break up the sausage real well and allow it to crisp up nice. The za’atar adds a different flavor to the otherwise classic pasta with sausage and peas. It’s not overpowering at all. Just has you going, “Huh. What is that flavor?”

This recipe is reprinted from my book Food You Love But Different . If you don’t already have it… what are you waiting for???? It’s filled with easy and exciting ways to elevate your favorite meals. Click here to get a copy!

By the way, my kids go crazy for this and I can usually make it while holding a 15 month old in my arms in less than 20 minutes. Just thought I’d share what my cooking situation has been like of recent days.

You can also find more of my pasta recipes here on my blog! Like these:

Pastina with Sausage, Peas, and Za'atar Recipe

Pastina with Sausage, Peas, and Za’atar

An easy, fast, 5 ingredient, comforting dish of tiny pastina pasta with sausage, spring peas, and za'atar.
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Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Prep Time: 0 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Author: Danielle Oron


  • ½ cup acini di pepe pastina
  • cup frozen or fresh peas
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • lb mild Italian sausage meat (if using sausages, remove casings)
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan
  • 1 tbsp za'atar
  • kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper


  • Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil.
  • Cook the acini di pepe according to package directions.
  • Add the peas to the boiling water in the last minute of cooking.
  • Drain, reserving 1 cup of the pastina water.
  • Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat.
  • Crumble the sausage meat into the pan and cook, undisturbed, until nicely browned, 2 – 3 minutes.
  • Break up the meat into smaller pieces and continue cooking, stirring occasionally until cooked through, another 4-5 minutes.
  • Add ½ cup of the pastina water to the pan and scrape the bottom to release the tasty bits.
  • Add the acini di pepe and peas and bring to a simmer while constantly stirring.
  • Stir in the Parmesan and za'atar and continue cooking and stirring until the sauce is glossy. Add more pastina water if necessary.
  • Season with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper. Taste and adjust
  • Serve immediately with a sprinkle of za'atar and extra parmesan on the side.


This can absolutely be made with another pastina shape such as Ditalini, Fregola, or Tubetti. 
You can even use a regular short pasta shape such as Conchiglie (shells), Fusilli, Mezzi Rigatoni, Orcchiette, or Pipe Rigate.