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A-Z of Making Pasta Shapes: Farfalle

Farfalle are a butterfly-shaped pasta.

They are made throughout Italy and have different sizes. The smaller version – farfalline- are excellent in clear soup, and the bigger size goes well with delicate creamy sauces or ragu’.

Homemade Farfalle (#bowtie) is not only a very elegant and beautiful shape to's a lot of fun too! While it looks like it can be fairly complicated, it's very straightforward and easier than you may think.

Typically, I would make farfalle with the egg dough, but if you want to try a vegan version of farfalle you could use fine semolina and water instead.

Find below the recipe for Farfalle in white ragu’, a slightly unusual recipe for Australia because it’s white ragu’, rather than the red ragu’ typically found in most restaurant. In this ragu’ the meat is quite prominent because the tomato’s not there to mask it, therefore be generous with the vegetables (onion, carrot, celery and peas) to create a well balanced dish.

This ragu’ really is delicious and will definitely impress your guests!


Serves 5

Preparation time 1 hour – resting time 30 min – cooking time 2 hours

Pasta Dough:

· 300g (1 + ½ cup) 00 flour, or plain flour

· 3 large eggs

· Fine semolina flour, for dusting

White Ragu’:

  • 5 tablespoons olive oil

  • 200g veal mince

  • 200g pork belly (rind removed), diced into 5 mm cubes, or unsmoked bacon, chopped

  • 1 medium brown onion, finely diced

  • 1 carrot, finely diced

  • 1 stalk celery, finely diced

  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary, stems removed and finely chopped or a teasponn of dried rosemary

  • 6 sage leaves

  • Salt & white pepper, to taste

  • Nutmeg, to taste

  • 20g (1 tablespoon) plain flour

  • 200ml (2/3 cup) white wine

  • 500ml (2 cups) chicken stock

  • ½ cup fresh or frozen peas

  • 2 tablespoons butter (optional)

  • ½ cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano or Pecorino, plus extra for serving

Tools needed:

- a clean bowl

- wooden board

- a large, heavy-based saucepan for the ragu’

- pasta wheel cutter with straight and fluted wheels. This tool would ideally be perfect. You can buy it at Costante Imports in Melbourne. In alternative you could use a sharp knife instead.

- a medium size pot to boil pasta in

How to make the egg dough:

Place the flour in a bowl. Make a well in the centre and crack the eggs into it.

Gently combine eggs with flour using a fork from the middle outwards.

With your hands, gradually incorporate the flour from the outside of the well toward the centre, kneading gently until the mass of dough comes together.

Put the dough on a wooden surface and knead it until it is smooth and resilient.

Work the mass of dough with your hands to develop the gluten in the flour for about 10-15 minutes or until it is smooth and elastic.

Using the heel of your hand, push the dough down and away from you, fold it in half back toward you, rotate a quarter turn, and repeat the kneading motion.

Wrap it and place it in the fridge to rest for at least half an hour before using it.

How to make the white ragu’:

As your dough is resting, let’s cook the white ragu’.

Place a large, heavy-based saucepan on high heat. When hot, add the oil and meat. Brown the meat, stirring regularly.

Once brown, add the chopped vegetables, rosemary and sage and cook for a further 5 minutes, stirring regularly. Season with salt, white pepper and nutmeg. Next, add the flour and cook for 1 minute, stirring continuosly.

Add white wine and cook for 2 minutes still on a high heat. Let evaporate the wine and add the chicken stock. Bring to the boil, then turn down to the lowest flame and cover with a lid.

Simmer for 2 hours, stirring regularly. Keep an aye on the pot and add a little more stock if the ragu’ appears dry. Add the peas and cook for a further 3 minutes. Taste, season and turn the flame off.

How to roll the dough:

After the resting time, dust the work surface with some extra flour, cut 1/3 of the #dough, and press it out flat with your fingertips. Wrap again the dough you are not using and set it aside to prevent drying out.

Set the pasta machine at its widest setting (usually '0', but it depends on the kind of machine you use).

Pass the dough through the rollers once, then fold the resulting strip into thirds.

Roll the pasta dough through the widest setting three times till your dough has an even rectangular shape and is smooth. Lightly dust the pasta with semolina flour if it is at all sticky.

Narrow the setting of the pasta machine to position '1' and roll the dough through.

Continue passing the dough through the rollers, reducing the thickness by one setting each time until it reaches the desired thickness. It should now be very delicate, elastic to the touch, and slightly translucent.

Roll the sheet of pasta not too thinly (I would use 6 twice or 7 out of 9 in my Marcato, but it depends on the machine you have).

How to shape homemade bow tie pasta:

Dust your bench and place your sheeted pasta dough in front of you. Use the pasta wheel cutter (or a knife) with straight wheels, to cut long strips of dough about 3 cm wide. Then, assemble your pasta wheel cutter with fluted wheels spaced at 4.5cm and cut the strips into individual rectangles.

I like to make rectangles that are 3 x 4.5cm. This makes for a good bite-sized piece. If you’d like you can make them a little larger, or smaller.

Working with one rectangle of dough at a time, pinch the dough into the classic bow tie shape. To do this pinch the upper part of the straight-cut side of the rectangle and then pinch the bottom side. Finally pinch the straight-cut sides (upper and bottom part) of the rectangle together. Use your thumb and forefinger to pinch the dough sealed in the centre.

While pinching the bow tie make sure to leave a tunnel in the middle, so that you can have an evely cooked piece of pasta.

If you struggle to get that tunnel, you may want to try to pinch the pasta dough around a skewer.

Take a look at my video on IG for a visual demonstration on how to shape farfalle.

I suggest to make the pasta a day in advance, and leave it on teatowel or baking paper dusted with flour to dry out overnight. This way the pasta will hold it’s shape better when cooking.

How to cook handmade farfalle:

Fresh, handmade pasta will cook much faster than store bought dry pastas.

Fill a medium size pot of water and add a generous tablespoon of salt to ensure the farfalle is properly seasoned. Bring to the boil on a high heat.

Homemade farfalle pasta will need to boil for about 5 minutes to reach the perfect al dente doneness. But keep in mind that the exact cooking time will depend on how tick and dry your pasta is, so I recommend tasting one piece of pasta to ensure it is cooked to your liking.

Once cooked, drain pasta and reserve a cup of the cooking water.

Add pasta, butter and grated Parmigiano to the ragu’. Stir well and season to taste. If the pasta looks a bit dry or thick, add some of the reserved pasta water and stir well.

Serve with extra Parmigiano and enjoy.

PASTA SWAPS: How to pair pasta with the right sauce!

The white ragu’ is also great combined with handmade tagliatelle, pappardelle, cavatelli, fusi istraini, gnocchi, orecchiette.

And if you don’t have time making fresh pasta try with store bought Penne, Fusilli, Tagliatelle or Farfalle.

Farfalle in white ragu'. Printable version
Download PDF • 316KB



The A-Z of Making Pasta Shapes series is well underway on my social platforms, and I'm already having so much fun teaching you how to make pasta shapes. Have you managed to join in? I hope so, but if not, here's a recap.

Every week I share how to make particular pasta shapes corresponding with letters of the alphabet. Every letter will represent one or more pasta shapes. So far, I've covered A for Agnolotti, B for Blecs and for Busiate, C for Cannelloni, Cappelletti, Cavatelli, Culurgiones, D for a perfect Dough, E for Egg Yolk Ravioli and I'm exploring the letter F this week by showing you how to make Farfalle.

Tune in to @_pastajourney_ social posts and stories to discover the best pasta recipes and how to perfect the shapes.

The A-Z of Making Pasta Shapes series wants to celebrate all handmade pasta shapes according to the tradition, so if you want to know more about a pasta shape, just put the name in the comments.


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