Kitchn Love Letters

This “Delicious” $6 Grocery Find Makes the Best 2-Ingredient Dinners

published Mar 13, 2024
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A person standing in front of an open refrigerator inside a kitchen
Credit: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn

I have many fond memories of my grandma Mary in my childhood kitchen, though very few involve her cooking. Grandma was a card shark through and through, so she spent much of her time shuffling and dealing rather than slicing and dicing. Hours would go by as the two of us remained planted at the dining room table tallying scores and talking smack.

When I wasn’t feeling my best, she’d make me one of my favorite meals: a bowl of piping hot pastina topped with a pat of butter. (She also made some mean stuffed bell peppers.) I’d submerge the butter square under heaping spoonfuls of the star-shaped pastina, until it was near fully melted and then practically inhale the contents of the bowl — burnt tongue be damned. 

Though it’s been well over a decade since I’ve eaten the simple dish, I recently discovered a similarly satisfying two-ingredient dinner, all thanks to a recent trip to a Whole Foods Market store opening.

Credit: Mara Weinraub

What’s So Great About 365 by Whole Foods Market Basil Pesto Plin?

One of the best parts of my job as The Kitchn’s Senior Groceries Editor is visiting retailers and learning about new and exciting products. This past November, I visited the Whole Foods Market in Jersey City, New Jersey, on its opening day. During the walkthrough, I learned about a rare (by U.S. standards) and adorable looking pasta: plin.

More commonly found in Italy, the smaller stuffed-style pasta is relatively new to Whole Foods shelves (it launched in March 2022). The grocer “is one of, if not the, only major retailers to offer this unique fresh cut plin,” says Cathy Strange, Whole Foods Market’s Ambassador of Food Culture. It’s also one of her favorite products in all of Whole Foods, and she’s been with the company for more than 30 years.

Credit: Mara Weinraub

The semolina dough looks as if it were cut with pinking shears (it’s not, BTW), and is filled with ricotta and Pecorino Romano cheese, and, as the name suggests, basil pesto, along with pumpkin seeds and bread crumbs for just a hint of added texture. It’s folded over into mini pillows — fit for the most delicious dollhouse. Because of their diminutive size, the plin take a mere four minutes to cook. Look at how they plump up!

Credit: Mara Weinraub

What’s the Best Way to Make 365 by Whole Foods Market Basil Pesto Plin?

Pairing it with pesto sauce is a no-brainer, and one of Cathy’s preferred ways to enjoy this plin. I imagine the herbaceous sauce to be a nice complement to the salty, creamy, nutty flavor of the cheeses.

My go-to dinner takes inspiration from my late grandma. I’ve swapped my beloved pat of butter for a jar of shockingly delicious — like, what do you mean you didn’t make this from scratch — butternut squash soup and, in lieu of the stars, the delicious pillowy plin. When I’m feeling fancy, I’ll top it with freshly cracked pepper and grated Parmesan (if I have it). 

Credit: Mara Weinraub

I’ve been eating this one-two combo regularly since I learned about the plin last November and have zero plans to stop. I may take a cue from Cathy (and grandma) come spring and toss it with “fresh tomatoes and butter with a splash of white wine.”

Buy: 365 by Whole Foods Market Basil Pesto Plin, $5.99 for 9 ounces at Amazon

What’s your favorite two-ingredient dinner? Tell us about it in the comments below.