Pasta grattugiata translates quite literally as “grated pasta,” and it’s as ancient as it is easy. As with many rustic Italian dishes, the author explains, the dish was created by the poor to utilize old or stale bread. (Some renditions call for a dusting of freshly grated nutmeg, supposing you had that on hand.) Drowning the resulting grated pasta in a hearty chicken broth made for an intensely satisfying bowl of soup. Actually, it still does.–Renee Schettler

CAN I MAKE PASTA GRATTUGIATA AHEAD OF TIME?

While we think you’ll have a hard time resisting using these little pasta shreds immediately, if you have leftovers or just want to wait, it’s possible. Spread’em out on a baking sheet, and once they’re completely dry, store in an air-tight container for up to a week.

A bowl of pasta grattugiata with a metal spoon lifting a scoop out.

Pasta Grattugiata

5 / 3 votes
This pasta grattugiata recipe is essentially grated pasta in broth, a frugal Italian staple made with flour, eggs, bread crumbs, and cheese that's intensely satiating.
David Leite
CourseMains
CuisineItalian
Servings6 servings
Calories262 kcal
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time10 minutes
Total Time40 minutes

Ingredients 

  • 1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons dried bread crumbs
  • 1 cup 00 flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
  • 8 cups homemade chicken stock
  • Kosher salt

Instructions 

  • In the bowl of a food processor, process the bread crumbs until finely ground. Add the flour, eggs, and cheese and process until a ball is formed, about 1 minute.
  • Dump onto a work surface and knead the mixture with your hands 10 times, or until a cohesive dough forms. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.
  • On the large holes of a box grater, grate the pasta dough into small crumbles.
  • Fill a large pot with the chicken stock and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Add the pasta grattugiata and simmer until tender, about 2 minutes. Lightly season the broth with salt and serve right away.
Pasta by Hand Cookbook

Adapted From

Pasta by Hand

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Nutrition

Serving: 1 portionCalories: 262 kcalCarbohydrates: 31 gProtein: 16 gFat: 8 gSaturated Fat: 3 gTrans Fat: 1 gCholesterol: 70 mgSodium: 645 mgFiber: 1 gSugar: 6 g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2015 Jenn Louis. Photo © 2015 Ed Anderson. All rights reserved.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

A few weeks ago, I was sick. Stay-on-the-couch-under-a-pile-of-blankets sick. This is the soup I didn’t know I needed at the time. I didn’t know because I’d never heard of it. But it’s pure comfort. This is a soul-soothing dish made of pretty much nothing.

Because I’m really horrible at using up all those bits and pieces in the kitchen, I’m always drawn to recipes that show true kitchen economy. The pasta grattugiata came together with absolutely no effort. Because the dough was kind of grainy (due to the bread crumbs), I was questioning how it would grate. I was imagining something like spaetzle but ended up with something more rustic, like little bits of torn-up bread.

I also imagined it all clumping together once it hit the homemade chicken broth. My concerns were completely unwarranted. The pasta cooked to perfection in the 2 minutes indicated. How much easier can you ask a dish to be? I can totally see myself making this when I need a little TLC.

Ask any Italian-American what dish has comforted them from cradle through adulthood, and they will tell you without hesitation, “pastina in broth.” While commercial pastina is typically shaped like little stars, this preparation of pasta grattugiata produces similarly small and comforting little “pasta bits” that swell and nourish the soul just as pastina does.

The recipe couldn’t be simpler to prepare, with ingredients most of us keep as pantry staples anyway. This means on those days when you drag your weary self into the house after a long and grueling day, this satisfying, rustic dish can be in your bowl in no time.

A little trick I came upon while grating the pasta dough was to squeeze and firm up the ball of pasta dough after a few passes across the box grater. I also found it helpful to grate the dough over a piece of parchment or wax paper. This allows you to spread the small crumbles across a bigger surface area which eliminates clumps that would need to be worked apart later when adding the pasta to the stock. When you’re ready to add the pasta grattugiata to the stock, you just gather the parchment in half lengthwise and shake the paper over the stock to sprinkle in the bits. Neat and clean!

The pasta grattugiata took about 2 minutes to become tender. Don’t be afraid to add some pieces of carrot or celery to the stock while you’re waiting for the dough to set. Serves 4 hungry people heartily.

It’s most satisfying to make a recipe that works exactly as described. We were attracted to this recipe because of the grating of pasta dough, which sounded fun. From start to finish, this recipe takes 45 minutes maximum.

We set the stock to boil after the dough had rested, so if you start that earlier, you may have this simple soup on the table in 35 minutes. The cooked pasta grattugiata has a pleasant “tooth.” Be certain to grate all the dough into little pieces; the bigger pieces of dough don’t quite cook through.

We grated all our dough onto a big plate, then swooped the whole mass at once into the simmering broth, which worked well. The flavor of this soup will be only as subtle or spectacular as your broth. This is perfect for a person on the mend or for little ones who like uncomplicated meals.




About David Leite

I count myself lucky to have received three James Beard Awards for my writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. My work has also appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.


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17 Comments

  1. Just came across this recipe. I will have to give it a try. My mother always made a soup that we as kids called “worm soup” because of the way she made the noodles and how they looked. We knew it as Passading but with the advent of the internet we learned that it is technically Passatelli (and the noodle maker is an iron or you can use a potato strainer). It sounds like the same thing as this recipe except for the noodle shape. My sister makes the noodle just like Mom’s recipe and I provide the homemade stock. We still have it for special occasions; funny since it’s considered a peasant soup.

    1. Worm soup! Love everything about what you shared, Cris. It’s always interesting, isn’t it, when we learn later in life what the actual name is of a dish, or its origins as something frugal when to us it meant nothing but comfort, or so on and so forth. Love it. And I love that you have this for special occasions. We so appreciate you telling your story, it took us back several decades for a lovely little reverie. Looking forward to hearing which recipe on the site you try next…

  2. For a bazillion years, my mother has waxed poetic about a pasta that her Italian grandmother made using a grater to shred a dough that included bread crumbs. This recipe is the first I’ve found that sounded just like my mother’s description and with it being so close to mother’s day, I made it this evening for dinner. At her request, I added some bitter greens, carrots and celery to the broth and at the last moment, some shredded poached chicken and red pepper flakes.

    Oh MY. Now I know why my mom talks about that pasta with that far away look in her eyes and half a grin. It’s THAT good.

    Just wanted to thank you for making my 87 year old mom smile from ear to ear.

  3. I can’t wait to try to make this, it sounds great and I can see making it in big batches, freezing in small portions and saving for weeknight suppers. I really chimed in here to say Thank you, David and friends, for this wonderful site. I always find something to try and or save. I really trust all the recipes that get printed on this site and there is a warmth and kindness that always shines through above and beyond anything to do with food. This food blog is like a comfortable neighborhood pub to me, somewhere I always look forward to visiting. Thank you so much.

    1. Lynn, what an amazingly sweet and wonderful thing to say. You’ve hit upon our philosophy: trusted recipes delivered in a warm, helpful way.

    2. Thank you so much for your kind words, Lynn! Looking forward to pulling up a barstool next to you again soon at our virtual neighborhood pub.

    3. Lynn, it often feels as though we work in a vacuum, trying to achieve exactly what you describe but not knowing if our efforts are having the intended effect. I can’t thank you enough for taking the time to leave us such a kind and lovely note. It is appreciated beyond words! Looking forward to hearing which recipes and essays make you feel most at home. Again, thank you.