Farfalle pasta: Butterflies and Bow Ties

Farfalle pasta; butterflies and bow ties.

The Italians make so many different types of pasta . Some have been around for centuries, others are modern inventions made possible by the use of machines to produce intricate shapes which can’t be made by hand. Many of the older pasta types are named after living things that the shape resembles. In the world of Italian pasta there are worms- vermicelli,  snails- lumache,  elephant eyes-occhi d’elefante and cockerel crests- le creste di gallo, to name a few!  None of these sound very attractive, but one popular shape which sounds nicer is farfalle pasta, meaning butterflies!

farfalle pasta -bow tie pasta

A little farfalle history!

Farfalle pasta is actually one of the oldest pasta shapes. It originated during the 16th century in Lombardy and Emilia-Romagna, where it is also known as ‘strichetti’. I have read that in Emilia, strichetti (today’s farfalle) were invented by housewives wanting to use up extra pasta dough left over from making filled cappelletti pasta. Apparently, once the filling ran out, the women of the region used up the remaining dough by making farfalle. This habit became so popular that they would actually make extra dough so that there would be plenty leftover to make farfalle!

farfalle pasta -bow tie pasta

Different types of farfalle pasta.

This pasta comes in different sizes; small ones are called farfalline and larger ones farfallone. There is also a ridged version known as farfalle rigate. This shape also looks like a bow-tie and, in fact, this pasta is often called bow-tie pasta outside of Italy.

ridged farfalle (bow-tie) pasta from La Molisana
farfalle rigate

In addition to the plain and whole-wheat versions, farfalle are often made in different colours by adding other foods to the pasta dough. Green is produced using spinach, black using cuttle fish ink and red using beetroot. This pasta is often sold in 3 colour packets; red, white and green. This colour combination is known as ‘tricolore’ and appears in many Italian dishes, such as caprese salad. These are the colours of the Italian flag, so it seems Italians have a lot of patriotic dishes!

farfalle pasta - bow tie pasta
colourful farfalle rigate

Farfalle pasta can be made by hand, as was the case in the past. It is usually made from small rectangular or oval pieces of rolled out pasta dough, which have the two ends trimmed to have ruffled edges. They are then pinched in the middle. If you want to make farfalle at home you can take a look at the video below from Jamie Oliver. To make enough farfalle dough for 4 people you need.

400g durum wheat semolina flour, 1 pinch salt and 220ml water or as needed, at room temperature. Although some people use 4 eggs instead of water. The rule is 100g of flour person and 1 egg per person.

Italian recipes for farfalle.

Farfalle are a very popular pasta shape, especially in Northern Italy. They are usually served with creamy sauces, in pasta salad, with seafood, with tomato sauce and, sometimes, with heavy meat sauces. Some typical recipes include farfalle cremasca from Lombardy, made with amaretti biscuits, butter and sage and farfalle with rocket and small calamari, also from Lombardy. In Emilia-Romagna, they often serve strichetti or farfalle in a chicken broth, with Bolognese or a liver ragu.

farfalle pasta with smoked salmon & zucchini
farfalle pasta with smoked salmon & zucchini

One other condiment which Italians frequently serve with farfalle pasta is salmon (smoked or fresh).  I love the combination of farfalle pasta and smoked salmon. In fact, that was the first recipe I posted here on the Pasta Project blog. But, like all the pasta types I have and will feature here, there are other farfalle pasta recipes to for you to check out and more to come.

Farfalle pasta with prawns and orange
Ridged farfalle with prawns and orange

Check these delicious farfalle recipes here on the Pasta Project

1.Farfalle with smoked salmon and zucchini

2. Farfalle with prawns and orange

3. Pasta salad with shrimps and asparagus

4. Farfalle with sausage and radicchio

Farfalle pasta can also be used in these recipes.

5. Garganelli with zucchini flowers

6. Green pasta salad with edible flowers

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