Last updated on October 30, 2023

Farfalle 🍝 Authentic Italian butterfly-shaped pasta recipes

Gianni from All Italian - Author
Gianni from All Italian

Perfect as a summer pasta salad, or with bolognese sauce all year round. Farfalle is a kind of pasta that reminds of joy and lightness: in fact the name means "butterflies". We share the recipes and sauces Italians love the most

A video of our farfalle with salmon and cream recipe. Below we explain all steps in detail

Farfalle is a type of pasta typical of the Italian region Emilia Romagna, in the shape of a bow tie, or a butterfly: hence the name.

It originated as a smart way to reuse the leftovers of fresh pasta, for example the pieces left over from a lasagna. To make the characteristic shape of a farfalla, just pinch a square of pasta with your fingers.

When cooking, the middle part of the farfalle remains al dente - because the pasta dough is thicker: and this creates a tingling feeling in the mouth.

Furfalle is also suitable for different types of sauces; the most famous dish is perhaps farfalle with salmon and cream, which we prepare in this page of All Italian.

Learning Italian 🇮🇹

What does farfalle mean? The Italian word farfalle means butterflies. The name naturally comes from the shape, which resembles a bow tie.

Farfalle is the plural of farfalla, butterfly. In Italian, almost all pasta names are plural: fusilli, tagliatelle, bucatini. This is because there are many pieces of pasta on the plate, so Italians speak of it in the plural.

The Italian words we use on this page:

🔊 Farfalle Butterflies
🔊 Salsa per pasta Pasta sauce
🔊 Insalata di pasta Pasta salad

Farfalle with salmon 🍝 Original Italian recipe

(16) reviews

  • 👩‍🍳 Easy
  • 30 min preparation
  • 🤗 Guaranteed result

Farfalle with salmon is an elegant dish, suitable for a dinner with guests where you want to make 🔊 bella figura (a good impression). The recipe combines pasta and fish, with an optional addition of cooking cream that makes it creamy and tasty.

We prepare the recipe as follows: we brown the salmon in a pan, optionally with cooking cream; meanwhile we cook the farfalle, and when the pasta is al dente we pour it into the pan with the salmon to finish cooking.





Ingredient image Ingredient name Cups Grams Ounces
farfalle Farfalle 11.3 oz 320 g
salmon-smoked Smoked salmon 7 oz 200 g
wine-white White wine 5.6 oz 160 g
onion-white White Onion 1 onion
olive-oil Extra Virgin Olive Oil 4 tablespoon
cooking-cream Cooking cream 5.6 oz 160 g

Which salmon with farfalle, fresh or smoked?

We have included smoked salmon in the ingredients, but you can also make farfalle with fresh salmon. Both are fine: it's just a matter of taste.

Farfalle with salmon and cream sauce

We have indicated that cooking cream is optional. On the one hand, it enriches the dish, makes it creamy and also elegant: cream and salmon are a stylish combination.
On the other hand, the recipe with cream becomes richer in calories, and many prefer it without.

Whipping cream or cooking cream? what's the difference?

Fresh whipping cream is one of the main ingredients in our recipes from Italian ice cream.

For the pasta sauce, cooking cream is more suitable also because it is lighter.

What's the difference?

Both are made of the thickest part of fresh milk: however, they have a different fat percentage.

  • Fresh whipping cream is used for desserts and contains about 35% fat. This kind of cream is made to be whipped (even if we put it in the ice cream as it is).

  • Cooking cream, on the other hand, contains only 20% fat: it is used to make recipes creamy, such as our salmon farfalle. Cooking cream cannot be whipped.

Farfalle with salmon without cream

With or without cream, the preparation does not change: sauté and brown the salmon, mix with a little white wine. The addition of cream is optional, for a creamier dish.
Alternatively, you can replace the cream with a little whole milk to make the recipe creamier.


  1. Prepare the ingredients

    Fill a pot with water and bring to the boil.
    In Italy we follow the ratio of 1 liter of water per 100 grams of pasta, about 1 US quart water per 3.5 oz dry pasta. Bring to a boil over medium heat and cover the pot with the lid to shorten the boiling time of the water.

    👉 It's not time to add salt yet. Also see the steps to cooking pasta al dente.

    Clean the salmon and cut it into strips before continuing with the next steps of the recipe.

    Prepare the ingredients

  2. Fry the onion

    Cut the white onion into fine pieces; pour the olive oil into a large pan, heat it over medium heat and add the chopped onion.

    In Italy we call this 🔊 soffritto: sauté the onion for a few minutes until it's golden, but not burnt.

    Fry the onion

  3. Sauté the salmon in a pan

    When the onion is golden, add the strips of salmon. Sauté the salmon for a few minutes and turn it occasionally.

    👉 A common mistake is to dry the salmon too much. To prevent this, add white wine, which you pour little by little. The wine is also used to flavor the salmon.

    When the salmon is nicely browned and the wine has evaporated, add a pinch of salt and a pinch of black pepper.

    Do you use cream? It's time to add it. On low heat, mix the cream with the other ingredients for a few minutes. The cooking cream must not dry out.
    After a few minutes turn off the heat and leave the sauce in the pan while you cook the pasta.

    With a little experience, you can better synchronize these steps: this way you can brown the salmon while the pasta is cooking, further reducing recipe times.

    Sauté the salmon in a pan

  4. Cook the farfalle

    When the water boils, add the coarse salt.
    In Italy we follow the proportion of 10 g / 0.35 oz of salt for each liter / quart of water.

    When you add the salt, the water stops boiling for a while.
    Wait for it to boil again and then dip the farfalle. Heat over medium heat without a lid.

    How long does it take to cook farfalle?

    As we often write, Italians don't trust the cooking time stated on the package of pasta. The best method to get pasta al dente is always to taste a farfalla after it has cooked for a few minutes.

    Cook the farfalle

  5. Combine farfalle and sauce

    Slightly before the farfalle are al dente, use a slotted spoon to transfer the farfalle from the cooking pan to the pan with the salmon.
    This way, the pasta water stays in the pot.

    Put on medium heat under the pot and mix thoroughly; add half a tablespoon of pasta water to thin the sauce.

    When the farfalle are ready, al dente, turn off the heat: it's time to serve.

    Farfalle with salmon and cream should be served immediately, while still hot.

    You can decorate with grated black pepper and a few leaves of parsley.

    Combine farfalle and sauce

Your farfalle with salmon is ready. Buon appetito! 🍝

A plate farfalle with salmon made with the Italian recipe
Our farfalle with salmon and cream sauce is ready

Did you like it? Rate this recipe

In the restaurant in Italy, when you finish eating, the waiter will ask: 🔊 andava tutto bene? (was everything fine?)

Recipe rating Italian translation
🔊Abbastanza buono
🔊Non molto buono
🔊Non buono
Placeholder image

Sauces that in Italy we normally eat with farfalle

Farfalle is tasty together with very different types of sauce.
As a warm dish, it is suitable for special occasions, such as a family lunch; but also for a quick lunch with a pasta salad.

Because it comes from Emilia, the first dish we mention is farfalle with Bolognese sauce, which is also typical for that region.

A plate of farfalle with Bolognese sauce
A plate of farfalle with Bolognese sauce Foto: Alpha

Thanks to their shape, farfalle are associated with lightness; and that's why they are made with vegetables and like pasta salads.

Vegetarian sauces with farfalle are very popular: with peas, with courgettes and with mushrooms.
As cold pasta salad (🔊pasta fredda in the Italian) farfalle are delicious with cherry tomatoes, mozzarella, tuna, basil and olives.

Another well-known dish is farfalle with pesto, mozzarella and cherry tomatoes.

But the most elegant farfalle dishes are probably with cooking cream. A fairly well-known recipe is farfalle with tomato sauce and cooking cream, called farfalle in Aurora sauce.
Some substitute bechamel for cream, mixing it with tomato and even ragù Bolognese.

On this page we make the most popular farfalle recipe in Italy: farfalle with salmon, optionally with the addition of cream sauce.

Different kinds of farfalle

There is a surprising variety of farfalle types: in terms of size and ingredients.

Whole wheat farfalle, although not easy to find, is also produced by major pasta brands such as Barilla or De Cecco.

La Molisana sells a special version of dried farfalle: whole wheat and rigate.

Farfalle whole wheat rigate
Farfalle whole wheat rigate

Farfalle in different colors

You've probably seen (and maybe eaten) red or green farfalle; it depends on the ingredients the pasta is made with.
Red farfalle are usually made with beetroot, while the green ones are with spinach.

Finally, like many other types of pasta, farfalle is also made gluten-free.

To know more: the tradition of farfalle in Emilia Romagna

According to several sources, in Emilia they are already since the Middle Ages farfalle. However, it is a bit difficult to estimate an exact date of origin. Why?

At first glance, farfalle is an elegant type of pasta: it has a nice shape.
But when you look closer, it's just a rectangle of dough folded in the middle.

Farfalle pasta type
Two pieces of farfalle pasta Foto: Popo le Chien

The butterfly-shaped folded pasta comes from Emilia Romagna, the Italian region home of fresh pasta: lasagna, tagliatelle en ragù Bolognese.

In Romagna they call fresh pasta with this shape strichetti. If you go to Modena, you will certainly find the strichetti on the menu of the local restaurants.

How you shape farfalle

To give the dough the shape of farfalle: cut a small square of dough, with two straight and two zigzag edges, and pinch it in the middle.

So in the middle of the farfalle the dough is thicker. This is why farfalle cook uneven: the center is inevitably more al dente than the edges.

Industrially produced farfalle
Industrially produced farfalle Foto: Youtube

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We frequently update our pages on Italian pasta with new classic and regional traditional recipes.

Over All Italian

Hi! We are Italian expats and have been living abroad for years, currently in the Netherlands. Wherever we go, we carry part of our tradition with us. And we often notice that Italy, its heritage and its lifestyle, are very popular.
Now that we understand a little better the culture of the countries we live in, we want to offer an account with original content about our home country.
We are also writing this blog to practice English, so you will find our writing a little «creative» at times. Grazie mille!