Spotlight Series: All About Acini Di Pepe

Spotlight Series: All About Acini Di Pepe

What is acini di pepe pasta?

If you love Italian Wedding Soup, this small round pasta might look familiar. While acini di pepe is most known for its starring role in broth-based soups, this tiny pasta has so much more to offer your kitchen creations.

Acini di pepe is a tiny pasta made with semolina flour (milled durum wheat). The pasta comes by its name honestly. In Italian, acini di pepe means “seeds of pepper,” or peppercorns—a reference to its tiny, round shape. In Italy, this pasta shape is known as a symbol of fertility, which is why it is featured in Italian Wedding Soup. This type of pasta is often called pastina, or “small pasta,” and is traditionally used in soups, but acini di pepe pasta is so much more than just a soup cut.

Acini di Pepe pasta in a simple cheese sauce

The small pasta adds a unique texture and appearance to a variety of dishes like pasta salads, simple side dishes and other broth-based soups. In the U.S., acini di pepe is the star of a fluffy chilled dessert known as Frog Eye Salad. In this recipe, acini di pepe is combined with whipped topping, coconut, mandarin oranges, marshmallows and pineapple.

Don’t be afraid to tap into your creativity with this tiny pasta, and don’t forget to share with us on social media. Tag us by using #delalloeats.

DeLallo Pepperoncini Peppers: Fast Facts

  • Category: Pastina
  • Meaning: "Pepper seeds"
  • Cook Time: 6 to 7 Minutes
  • Place of Origin: Central Northern Italy
  • Main Ingredients: Durum wheat flour, water
  • Alternative Names: None
  • Possible Substitutes: Orzo, Couscous

Shop DeLallo Acini Di Pepe:

What Is Acini Di Pepe?

Acini di pepe is a tiny pasta cut, or pastina, that is made with durum wheat and water (semolina flour). It is named for its small round pasta shape: “seeds of pepper,” or peppercorns. Even still, acini di pepe is even smaller than peppercorns! Traditionally, this Italian pasta cut is known as a symbol of fertility, which is why it stars in the iconic comfort food: Italian Wedding Soup. While acini di pepe is best known for its feature in Italian Wedding Soup and other broth-based soups, the tiny pasta is also a memorable addition to pasta salads, side dishes and grain bowls.

Pile of Acini di Pepe pasta

The Origin Of Acini Di Pepe Pasta And Its Brief History

While it is difficult to trace the exact origins of acini di pepe pasta, it is a traditional Italian pasta shape that has been around for a long, long time. In Italy, acini di pepe is one of the first foods served to infants—a small and easy-to-eat shape for introducing them to the wide world of pasta. Some claim that this was the purpose of acini di pepe all along, a tiny pasta shape made to introduce small children to solid foods. Acini di pepe is also believed to aid in fertility, which is why it is added to the classic Italian Wedding Soup.

How Is Acini Di Pepe Made And What Is It Made Of?

The pasta dough for acini di pepe is made using semolina flour, or durum wheat that has been milled, and water. This pasta dough is extruded through bronze dies containing small holes to form the cylinders of the pasta. Then, pasta strands are trimmed often to produce this pasta’s signature bead-like shape. The pasta is dried before being packaged and sold in stores.

Close up view of acini di pepe pasta

How To Cook Acini Di Pepe

Acini di pepe can be cooked in a pot of salted boiling water (like most pasta) or added directly to broth for inclusion in a soup. To cook in water, bring a medium to large pot of water to a rolling boil and season generously with salt. Add the pasta and set a timer for six minutes. Stir, ensuring the pasta does not stick to the pot or each other.

Once the pasta is al dente, strain using a fine-mesh strainer (do not use a colander with large holes, since the pasta will leak through). Use in your favorite recipe.

When adding to soup, cook the soup and its ingredients until nearly done. Add the pasta to the simmering broth and stir. Cook until al dente, six to seven minutes (or according to the package directions), then serve.

Chicken soup with Acini di Pepe

The Best Acini Di Pepe Pasta - The Delallo Difference

DeLallo acini di pepe is made near Naples using the finest durum wheat and spring water for the best taste. The pasta is extruded slowly for the best texture and dried slowly to preserve its taste, color, and texture and provide an overall superior experience.

Acini Di Pepe Recipes And Usage Ideas

Acini di pepe is a small round pasta that is best known for strutting its stuff in broth-based soups. In particular, acini di pepe boasts a lead role in the beloved comfort food, Italian Wedding Soup. This popular dish is made with chicken broth or stock, wilted greens like escarole, small meatballs or sausage and the tiny pastina, acini di pepe. This is arguably its most common use, but the tiny pasta can be added to other brothy soups, contributing texture and heartiness. Try swapping the noodles in chicken noodle soup for acini di pepe, adding it to Minestrone (Italian Vegetable Soup), Pasta Fagioli (Italian Bean Soup), your favorite chili recipe and more.

Acini di pepe can also be used to make pasta salads. After cooking and draining, toss the cooled cooked pasta with ingredients like raw or cooked vegetables, cheeses, beans, cured meats and fresh herbs. Go light with the dressing. Creamier “macaroni salad” type preparations might be too heavy for such a tiny pasta. We love acini di pepe pasta salads with a light dressing made of extra virgin olive oil.

We have to mention the unique dessert pasta made with acini di pepe. Frog Eye Salad might not have an appealing name, but don’t let that stop you from trying the fluffy treat. Frog Eye Salad is made with acini di pepe pasta, whipped topping, marshmallows, mandarin oranges, pineapples and coconut. That is one variation, at least.

Additionally, acini di pepe is a delightful stand-in for couscous, especially Israeli couscous which is larger. Toss with olive oil, lemon juice and salt for a simple side dish, or add ingredients to make a new take on a grain bowl.

More ideas and recipes that feature acini di pepe can be found here.

Italian Weding Soup featuring Acini di Pepe

The Best Sauces For Acini Di Pepe

Because of its tiny shape, acini di pepe may get lost in your typical pasta sauce. This small round pasta is a type of pastina that is best featured in broth-based soups, like the famed Italian Wedding Soup, and cold picnic pasta salads dressed in olive oil. Acini di pepe can be cooked directly in the broth or stock of a soup. It is rare to serve it as a plated pasta dish, but when it is, acini di pepe works best with simple sauces of olive oil or butter and fresh herbs. The delicate little pasta drowns in heartier sauces like ragù.

Acini Di Pepe Pasta Substitutes

If you don’t have any acini di pepe on-hand, consider other tiny pasta shapes (pastina) as a substitute. For broth-based soup and pasta salad recipes, try orzo as a substitute. While the pasta shapes differ, both types of pasta are small and able to cook up quickly. Depending on the recipe, other pastina may work too: ditalini, stelline, etc.

Delallo Acini Di Pepe: FAQ

How Do I Pronounce “Acini Di Pepe”?

Acini di pepe is pronounced “ah-cheenee dee pep-aye.”

What Does “Acini Di Pepe” Mean?

The literal translation of acini di pepe from Italian is “seeds of pepper,” or peppercorns. Even still, acini di pepe is smaller than that!

What Is The Shape Of Acini Di Pepe?

Acini di pepe is a tiny pasta with a shape that resembles small round peppercorns or beads. They sometimes resemble small, short cylinders.

From What Region Of Italy Is Acini Di Pepe?

Acini di pepe is from Northern Italy. The Italian pasta is now consumed throughout Italy, America and all over the world.

Acini Di Pepe Vs. Pastina - What Is The Difference?

Acini di pepe is a type of pasta known as pastina, or small pasta. Other small pasta shapes in this category are ditalini, orzo and stelline. These tiny pasta are commonly used in broth-based soups.

Acini Di Pepe Vs. Orzo - What Is The Difference?

While acini di pepe is a tiny peppercorn-shaped pasta, orzo is slightly bigger and named for its barley-like shape. Some say orzo pasta resembles flattened grains of rice. It is a type of pastina (small pasta), like acini di pepe, but the shape and size are different. Both acini di pepe and orzo are used in much of the same ways. Thanks to their similar small size, orzo makes a good substitute for acini di pepe and vice versa.

Acini Di Pepe Vs. Couscous - What Is The Difference?

Both acini di pepe and couscous are small round balls made with semolina flour, or a finely milled powder made of durum wheat. These are their only commonalities. Couscous is a staple food of North Africa, while acini di pepe is a classic pasta of Italy. They often get confused because of their shape, but the big differences are in their size, how they are cooked and their texture. Couscous is offered in different sizes that range from smaller than acini di pepe to larger. Couscous is steamed and served as a side or as the base of a vegetable or meat main dish. Acini di pepe is an Italian pasta that is featured in broth-based soups or pasta salads. Acini di pepe is cooked for an al dente texture, or a bite that is tender but yielding. Couscous’s texture is described as fluffy and chewy.

Where To Buy Delallo Acini Di Pepe

Order DeLallo Acini di Pepe online or find it at most major supermarkets across the country.