Sometimes in life, you have to take risks. Think outside the box. Blaze a new path. It can be scary and uncomfortable, but the rewards are usually worth it. That’s what we have done here. Manestra, a simple, tomato-based pasta soup, is usually made with orzo, but we decided to use pasta shaped as little stars (cue gasps). We were brave. We were ground breakers. We were unintimidated. We were out of orzo.
No matter what small shaped pasta you use, the end result is sure to be delicious. Manestra’s subtle flavour makes it a favourite amongst picky eaters, and when it is served plain (that is, not topped with grated mizithra) it is a perfect vegan and lenten option – particularly when you are all beaned out.
Manestra thickens as it sits due to the starch in the pasta. If this happens, simply dilute it with a little bit of water.
You can make manestra ever day of the week using a variety of little pastas and feel like you are eating something different every day…sort of. Greek pasta brands such as Misko have lots of little noodles. We have made manestra with orzo, little sesame seed shaped pasta, and our favourite, the little stars. Feel free to experiment!
If your diet includes dairy, manestra is delicious served with grated cheese sprinkled on top. The best cheese option, we think, is mizithra; this will add flavour and protein to your meal. If you are not eating cheese, you can sprinkle some nutritional yeast onto your manestra. This is a wonderful vegan option with a cheesy, nutty flavour. Although both of these are nice variations, we tend to like our manestra plain and simple, served with nothing but a side of olives and some bread.
Mia Kouppa: Manestra
- 1/4 cup Greek olive oil
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 1 teaspoon chopped garlic
- 1 cup tomato juice
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 1/4 cup small shaped pasta (such as little stars or orzo)
- 4 1/2 cups water
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- Optional: grated mizithra or nutritional yeast
- Heat oil in a large pot and add onion and garlic. Saute over medium heat for approximately 5 minutes, until the onion is softened. Stir often, making sure that the garlic does not burn.
- Add the remaining ingredients and cook over medium heat according to the directions on the pasta packaging, usually about 8 – 10 minutes. Stir often, especially at the beginning otherwise the pasta may stick to the bottom of the pot.
- Serve immediately