Spotlight Series: All About Farfalle (Also Known As ‘Bow Tie Pasta’)

Spotlight Series: All About Farfalle

(Also Known As ‘Bow Tie Pasta’)

Farfalle, which means “butterflies” in Italian, is a pasta shape as fun as its name. This iconic Italian pasta is pinched in the middle to resemble butterflies or little bow ties—in fact, you’ll often see it referred to as bow tie pasta. Thanks to its shape, Farfalle is good at catching everything from creamy sauces to chunky ingredients especially when cooked to that signature al dente texture.

DeLallo Farfalle pasta

This fun bow-tie-shaped pasta is a family favorite. Not only is Farfalle a fun shape, but it’s easy for little ones to grasp with their fingers. From veggie-loaded primavera sauces and rich cream sauces to colorful pasta salads and even soups, Farfalle can do it all.

DeLallo Farfalle (Bow Tie Pasta): Fast Facts

  • Category: Shaped Pasta
  • Meaning: "Butterflies" in Italian
  • Cook Time: 10 to 12 minutes
  • Place of Origin: Emilia-Romagna, Italy
  • Main Ingredients: Durum wheat flour, water
  • Alternative Names: bow tie pasta, butterfly pasta
  • Possible Substitutes: Gemelli, fusilli

What Is Farfalle (Bow Tie Pasta)?

Farfalle is a popular pasta cut that is named for its “butterfly” shape. Like most Italian pasta, Farfalle is made with durum wheat flour, or semolina, and water that is kneaded together to create the pasta dough. The pasta dough is then rolled into sheets. To form its distinct shape, the pasta sheet is cut into small rectangles with a zig-zag cutter. This gives the butterfly’s wings its fancy edges. Next, each square of pasta dough is pinched in the middle creating a bow tie appearance—the reason why some call it “bow tie pasta.” This pinch makes folds in the dough, which creates a chewier texture at the pasta’s center and makes it great for capturing sauces and smaller ingredients. The playful pasta is popularly paired with tomato and creamy sauces, as well as lighter dressings when used in pasta salads. You will sometimes find a smaller version of Farfalle called Farfalline and a larger version called Farfallone.

Closeup of farfalle pasta

The Origin Of Farfalle And Its Brief History

Farfalle pasta is one of the oldest pasta cuts. This bow-tie-shaped pasta comes from the regions of Lombardy and Emilia-Romagna of Northern Italy, where it was first tracked in the 16th century—if not earlier. It’s been said that this iconic pasta shape was invented by housewives who were simply using up leftover pasta dough. Now, Farfalle is a beloved cut in Italy and all over the world.

How Is Farfalle Pasta Made And What Is It Made Of?

Farfalle pasta can be made by-hand or manufactured using machinery. To create the bow-tie-shaped pasta by-hand, it begins by first creating a pasta dough with durum wheat that is ground into a semolina flour and water. Once kneaded, the pasta dough is rolled out into a thin sheet and cut into small rectangles, often with a zigzag cut along two sides. The rectangles are pinched in the center to create folds and a bow shape. Farfalle can be sold fresh or dried before being packaged and sold in grocery stores and markets.

Farfalle can be found in various colors, whether tri-color (red or orange, white/tan, and green, to resemble the Italian flag) or black, which is made using cuttlefish or squid ink. The flavors tend to be largely mild with added ingredients mostly contributing color.

How To Cook Farfalle (Bow Tie Pasta)

To cook bow tie pasta, bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil. Season the water generously with salt. (We recommend ¼ cup per 5 quarts.) Add the Farfalle pasta to the water and give it a quick stir to ensure that it does not stick to the pot or each other. Continue cooking at a rolling boil until al dente, roughly 10 to 12 minutes. To test if the pasta is done to your liking, scoop up one bow tie with a slotted spoon. Let it cool slightly before taking a bite. The pasta should be tender but retain a chewy center (not crunchy). Drain and toss with your favorite pasta sauce.

The Best Farfalle Pasta - The Delallo Difference

DeLallo Farfalle is made in Italy using the finest quality durum wheat and mineral-rich spring water. The pasta dough is extruded using traditional bronze dies for a rougher surface texture made to capture sauces. Pasta is dried slowly at low temperatures so that it maintains nutrients, its freshest flavor and the ideal texture. DeLallo offers three kinds of Farfalle pasta: classic Semolina Farfalle, Organic Whole-Wheat Farfalle and Organic Farfalle.

Whole-wheat farfalle pasta used in a pasta salad

Farfalle (Bow Tie Pasta) Recipes And Usage Ideas

Farfalle is a versatile pasta shape that works well in a range of dishes. Exploit the shape’s sauce-capturing abilities by tossing with creamy Alfredo sauce, a flavorful marinara tomato sauce, or simpler, lighter sauces. The pasta pairs well with small mix-ins like diced pancetta, green peas and garlic. When cooked to that ideal al dente texture, these sturdy noodles can hold their own with heartier ingredients like chicken, shrimp, asparagus, Italian sausage, broccoli and more. We love this Paprika Chicken Farfalle recipe.

Try using butterfly pasta in your next pasta salad packed with chickpeas, cubed cheeses, olives, fresh veggies—be creative! Elevate your favorite Italian-inspired soup with bow tie pasta.

Click here for more Farfalle recipes and inspiration.

The Best Sauces For Farfalle (Bow Tie Pasta)

Farfalle pasta’s folds are excellent at catching creamy sauces, classic tomato sauces, chunky vegetable-loaded primavera sauces and meaty ragùs. Want something simpler? Bow tie pasta is great with olive-oil-based sauces too! Try Farfalle with a zesty pesto or Romanesco Sauce. Garlicky, buttery or lemony flavors are a tasty complement to hearty additions like grilled chicken or shrimp. Don’t forget that Farfalle pasta is great for picnic pasta salads and macaroni salads. The bow tie shape does well with both lighter and creamy dressings.

Farfalle (Bow Tie Pasta) Substitutes

Bow tie pasta has two key attributes to consider when making a substitution: folds and texture. The folds in the pasta help it to carry sauce and other ingredients, and the center of the bow tie has a nice chewy texture. It is worth noting that no other pasta will give the same festive look as Farfalle. Gemelli is a good swap thanks to its swirly folds and sturdy texture. Gemelli pairs well with similar sauces. While Fusilli isn’t quite as chewy, it has lots of folds that make it ideal for pasta salad and other dishes where bow ties are called for.

DeLallo Farfalle: FAQ

How Do I Pronounce “Farfalle”?

The Italian pasta farfalle is pronounced far-FALL-lay.

What Does “Farfalle” Mean?

Farfalle means butterflies in Italian, a reference to its shape, which is pinched in the center to create “wings” on the sides.

What Do Italians Eat With Farfalle?

Farfalle is served in a variety of ways in Italy. Butterfly pasta comes from Northern Italy, which is also home to fragrant basil pesto and a number of seafood sauces from along the coast. Farfalle Cremasca is a popular buttery sage sauce. In summer, when veggies are at their peak, Italians enjoy colorful chunky tomato sauces called Farfalle alla Primavera. Farfalle is a great pasta shape for creamy Carbonara or a cheesy Alfredo with sweet peas and pancetta.

What Does Farfalle Taste Like?

Farfalle is a classic Italian pasta that is made with durum wheat semolina and white like most other store-bought pasta. That said, Farfalle pasta has a subtle fresh bread flavor. The pasta tends to take on much of the flavor of whatever it is served with— whether it be a tomato sauce, cheese or cream sauce, seafood sauce, etc.

Why Is Farfalle Shaped Like A Butterfly?

Farfalle is formed by taking small rectangles of rolled-out pasta dough and squeezing them in the center to create the butterfly shape. This shape also resembles a bow tie. This gives the pasta grooves which help it to catch sauce as well as a chewier, more al dente texture in the center.

Farfalle Vs Bow Tie Pasta - What Is The Difference?

Farfalle and bow tie pasta are the same thing. Farfalle is the Italian name that means “butterflies,” while bow tie pasta is the name frequently used in the U.S. when referring to this bow-tie-shaped pasta. Its likeness is all in the eye of the beholder. When shopping for pasta, products labeled bow tie pasta and Farfalle are usually the same thing.

Farfalle Vs Farfalloni - What Is The Difference?

Farfalloni is simply a larger version of the butterfly pasta known as Farfalle. These larger bow-tie-shaped noodles do take longer to cook.

Where To Buy Delallo Farfalle?

Order DeLallo Farfalle Pasta online or find it at most major supermarkets across the country.