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What is Farfalle Pasta?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 16, 2024
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Farfalle pasta is a popular Italian pasta in the shape of a bow tie. In fact, some producers call their farfalle “bow tie pasta” to make it seem more friendly to non-Italian speaking consumers. The shape is fairly versatile, and can be used in a range of dishes. Most markets stock farfalle pasta, since it is popular and reasonably well known among consumers. It is also possible to make farfalle at home with very basic equipment.

To make farfalle, pasta dough is cut into wide ribbons which are sheared to form rectangles. Often, shears with a jagged edge are used, so that the rectangles also have a jagged edge. Each rectangle is pinched in the middle to form the classic bow tie shape. Farfalle pasta could also be considered butterfly shaped, and as farfalla means “butterfly” in Italian, this is probably the shape that the pasta was originally intended to evoke. A miniature version is known as farfalline. Farfalline pasta is ideal for soups like minestrone.

Culinary historians believe that farfalle pasta has been made since at least the 1500s, and that the pasta shape probably originated in Northern Italy. The pasta is well suited for tomato and cream dishes, although it can be used for others as well. Some cooks also use farfalle in baked dishes such as casseroles, since the pasta bakes and holds its shape well. When made from hard durum wheat, farfalle pasta is a chewy, robust, flavorful pasta which can also be enjoyed plain.

Cooks who want to make fresh farfalle pasta at home will be greatly assisted with a pasta machine, although the device is not strictly necessary. To make pasta dough, mix four cups of flour, four eggs, one egg yolk, one and one half teaspoons of olive oil, and a dash of salt. Knead into a stiff dough, and allow the dough to rest while setting up a space to roll it out.

If using a pasta machine, roll the dough out to a thin setting, and then either slice it by hand into wide widths or use a slicing attachment. Otherwise, roll the pasta dough out very thin by hand, and then use a knife to cut the dough into wide strips. Slice the strips of pasta into small rectangles with pinking shears for a ragged edge, or just cut the rectangles with a knife. Pinch together to make bowties and allow the farfalle pasta to rest briefly before cooking, or dry it on racks for consumption later.

DelightedCooking is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a DelightedCooking researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By googie98 — On Aug 27, 2010

@chrisinbama: Arugula is a spicy leaf. Some people describe it as bitter. Others say it has a “peppery-mustardy” flavor. It does have a pretty strong taste to it is not usually served on its own, but with milder greens or with a pasta salad.

You can substitute the arugula greens. They are sometimes hard to find. The closest to arugula are escarole and dandelion greens.

By chrisinbama — On Aug 27, 2010

@alex94: What exactly is arugula?

By alex94 — On Aug 27, 2010

@medicchristy: I don’t know if this is the one that you are looking for but it’s the only one with broccoli that I had. It has a lot of ingredients. I’m posting it for you.

16 oz. farfalle pasta, 2 cups broccoli, ½ cup garlic vinaigrette, 1 cup grape tomatoes (cut in half), 1 cup yellow bell pepper (chopped), ½ cup scallions, 2 Tbs. basil (chopped), 2 Tbs. parsley (chopped), 4 cups arugula, ½ cup goat cheese, and salt or pepper to taste.

Cook your pasta for about 12 minutes. Drain well. In another pot, boil about two inches of water. Insert a steamer basket for the broccoli and steam it for 2 minutes. Remove that from the heat and run the broccoli under cold water.

Put the farfalle in a large bowl and toss with the vinaigrette. Add all of the other ingredients except the arugula and the cheese. Stir ingredients together gently. Add salt and pepper to your liking. When it’s time to eat, serve the pasta salad on a bed of arugula and sprinkle with the goat cheese.

By medicchristy — On Aug 27, 2010

Does anyone have a recipe for farfalle pasta salad that has broccoli in it?

By anon47297 — On Oct 03, 2009

you left the water out of your recipe.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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