Farfel Pilaf

published Feb 27, 2023
Farfel Recipe

A traditional food for Ashkenazi Jews, farfel is made from a dry, egg-enriched dough that’s been passed over a box grater to form small, chewy, coarse-textured droplets.

Serves4 to 6

Prep5 minutes

Cook35 minutes to 40 minutes

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fearful on a serving plate
Credit: Photo: Linda Xiao; Food Styling: Brett Regot

Farfel, one of the lesser-known Shabbat classics, is a nubbly dried egg pasta that can be used in soups and, as here, a comforting pilaf. I love serving this hearty mushroom and onion farfel pilaf with a big handful of fresh herbs and alongside a roast chicken on Shabbat. Any leftovers can be topped with a poached egg for a quick and filling breakfast.

What Is Farfel?

Farfel, also referred to as egg barley, is a tiny egg-based pasta that’s similar to German spaetzle or Israeli couscous in texture. (It is not to be confused with farfalle, the bow tie-shaped pasta.) A traditional food for Ashkenazi Jews, farfel is made by rubbing a shaggy egg dough over a box grater to form little rough-edged balls that are left to dry.

Farfel is a delightfully savory pantry staple that can be enhanced with onions, garlic, and a good homemade stock. It can be difficult to track down, but it’s worth taking the time to do so. Make sure to grab a few bags to keep in your pantry.

Is Farfel Kosher for Passover?

Farfel, which is made with leavened flour, is not considered kosher for Passover, although it is kosher otherwise. Matzo farfel, a type of crumbled matzo, is kosher for Passover as long as the matzo itself has been certified kosher for Passover.

Credit: Photo: Linda Xiao; Food Styling: Brett Regot

Is There a Difference Between Farfel and Matzo?

Farfel is a tiny pasta made from flour, egg, and salt. Matzo, on the other hand, is an unleavened bread that’s central to the Jewish holiday Passover. It’s also used for dishes like matzo ball soup and matzo brei. Matzo farfel is the name for small pieces or flakes of matzo, which are larger in size than matzo meal. The name, matzo farfel, is likely based on the small shape of the pasta dish.

Best Ways to Add Flavor to Farfel 

I like to add mushrooms, like fresh maitake or oyster, to my farfel for an extra umami boost. Fresh herbs, like parsley, dill, and chives, can also be added to bump up the flavor.

Farfel Recipe

A traditional food for Ashkenazi Jews, farfel is made from a dry, egg-enriched dough that’s been passed over a box grater to form small, chewy, coarse-textured droplets.

Prep time 5 minutes

Cook time 35 minutes to 40 minutes

Serves 4 to 6

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 2 cups

    farfel crumbs

  • 3 cups

    low-sodium chicken broth

  • 1/2

    small yellow onion

  • 3 1/2 ounces

    fresh maitake or oyster mushrooms

  • 2 tablespoons

    unsalted butter or vegetable oil

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons

    kosher salt, divided, plus more as needed

  • 3 sprigs

    fresh dill

  • 3 sprigs

    fresh parsley

Instructions

  1. Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 350ºF. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

  2. Place 2 cups farfel crumbs on a rimmed baking sheet and spread into an even layer. Bake until toasted and lightly browned, 5 to 10 minutes. (Skip the toasting step if your farfel is already toasted.)

  3. Meanwhile, place 3 cups low-sodium chicken broth in a small saucepan over medium heat. Dice 1/2 small yellow onion until you have 1/2 cup. Dice 3 1/2 ounces fresh mushrooms (about 1 cup). Melt 2 tablespoons unsalted butter or heat 2 tablespoons vegetable oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and saute until fragrant and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms and 1/2 teaspoon of the kosher salt, and saute until the mushrooms are soft and fragrant, about 5 minutes.

  4. Add the farfel, 2 cups of the chicken broth, and remaining 1 teaspoon kosher salt. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to maintain a simmer. Cover and cook for 10 minutes.

  5. Check to make sure there’s still liquid covering the bottom of the pan and bubbling around the sides of the pan. You should have enough liquid to keep the farfel cooking for another 10 minutes (20 minutes total) without scorching. Continue to cook until the farfel is cooked through and chewy, adding more broth as needed, about 10 minutes more. Meanwhile, finely chop 3 fresh dill sprigs and the leaves from 3 fresh parsley sprigs until you have 1 tablespoon of each.

  6. Remove the pan from the heat. Let farfel rest, covered, for another 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork. Taste and season with ore kosher salt as needed. Serve warm garnished with the herbs.

Recipe Notes

Storage: Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 4 days.