While you may be unfamiliar with the term ‘farfalle’, we’re sure you’ve encountered this unique-shaped pasta. Farfalle are often described as having a bow-tie or butterfly shape. In fact, the word ‘farfalle’ is the Italian word for “butterflies.”
What is farfalle?
Farfalle (pronounced far-fall-ay) are one of Italy’s oldest pasta shapes, dating back as far as the 16th century. Originating in Emilia-Romagna and Lombardia, farfalle were apparently created by housewives seeking a way to use dough leftover from making cappelletti, a type of filled pasta. During this time they was named strichetti, but would soon be called farfalle after their comparison to the shape of a butterfly became more common. Soon farfalle were no longer considered as a way to reduce waste - but a delectable pasta shape in their own right!
Much like their namesake, farfalle are available in a variety of vivid colours. For generations, Italians have used inventive ingredients to make their pasta even more visually appealing. Common examples include beetroot and spinach, which can make a pasta dish resemble the Italian flag! For those with a slightly bolder palate, we recommend trying squid ink farfalle. This lends a depth of rich, salty flavour - a match made in heaven for seafood sauces.
Farfalle’s crimped shape ensures the pasta captures whatever sauce they're paired with. This means they can be served in a variety of ways - from soups to salads and everything in between. We recommend serving farfalle with a simple yet sumptuous tomato sugo, or a creamy sauce such as our signature ‘Carbonara of Dreams’. Since farfalle also hold their shape particularly well, they're also perfect for baking into a casserole.
Much like most pasta shapes, making farfalle at home is deceptively simple. Take a look at our authentic Italian recipe, provided by our in-house team of pastai.
Our Recipe for Fresh Farfalle Pasta
Serves: 2-3 people
Prep Time: 60 minutes
Cooking Time: 10 minutes
Calories per serving: 468 kcal
- 200g ‘00’ flour (plus more for work surface)
- 2 large eggs
- Rolling pin
- Wooden board
- Pasta cutter or knife
- Ravioli wheel cutter
Step 1: Making the Pasta Dough
Head over to our comprehensive guide on making fresh egg pasta at home. You don’t need any extravagant equipment to make your own pasta. All it takes is flour, eggs and a few simple kitchen tools. Head back here once you have a rolled out sheet of dough - or a sfoglia.
Step 2: Making the Farfalle Pasta Shape
Once you’ve made your sheet of dough, use a knife to cut it into a large even rectangle.
Take your ravioli wheel cutter and cut the rectangle into strips. Your strips should be approximately 4-5cm wide and 2cm long.
Using your fingers, take the sides of each strip and pinch into the middle until you have a bow-tie shape. Then transfer all of your shapes onto a floured surface, and dust them with additional flour. Ensure there is a good amount of space between each shape to avoid them from sticking together.
- Leave your fresh farfalle shapes to dry for at least 30 minutes before cooking. This will help them hold their shape when cooked and tossed with your sauce.
How to Cook Farfalle Pasta
Now you’re only minutes away from a meal worthy of an Italian ristorante!
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Once boiling, add a couple of pinches of salt.
Add pasta and cook for 3-4 minutes, or until al dente. Remember to always taste a piece first to ensure your pasta is cooked to perfection!
- Strain the pasta and mix with sauce.
Our Favourite Farfalle Recipes
Our smoked salmon pasta recipe uses mascarpone cheese, butter and a ladle of pasta water to create a delightfully creamy sauce. Lemon zest and fresh dill provide freshness and help to cut through the rich, smoky salmon. This dish comes together in no time, so get all your ingredients ready before you start.
Pesto alla Genovese is the quintessential pesto recipe. The key to making an excellent pesto all Genovese is using true Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, high-quality olive oil – we use Italian extra virgin olive oil – and fresh basil. In selecting basil, try to get bunches with smaller leaves as these tend to be fresher and more tender. As basil pesto is a dish of few ingredients, the flavour and freshness of its components will greatly impact the final product. For us, farfalle is a great shape to pair with pesto as it captures every last morsel of sauce, nestled within its folded shape.
While most of these pasta salads employ a different shape than farfalle, we find it is the perfect substitute for many of the shapes listed. These bow tie pasta salad recipes are informal enough for any occasion. Farfalle pasta holds its shape and dressing, making it an ideal choice.
We hope you’ve enjoyed learning how to make a brand new pasta shape! Making pasta at home can be a fun, relaxing, and satisfying activity - and you’ll reap the rewards in the form of a delicious and authentic Italian meal.