Celebrated Italian film director, Federico Fellini once said, “Life is a combination of magic and pasta”. Here at Orchard Ovens, we couldn’t agree more, except perhaps, we might say, ‘magic, pasta and pizza!’ But can a wood-fired ‘pizza’ oven really cook pasta?
The foundations of Italian cuisine and the origins of pasta date back as far as the 1st Century AD, with mentions of ‘lagana’ – fine sheets of fried dough. However, references to the pasta dishes we would recognise today, appear from a little later – around the 13th Century – right across Italy.
In 1995, 40 pasta producers gathered together to hold the first World Pasta Congress. There, World Pasta Day was created, to celebrate its cultural and culinary importance.
How to cook a pasta dish in a wood-fired oven
It may come as a surprise to know that a wood-fired Valoriani oven, normally thought of as a pizza oven, is exceptionally good at cooking a virtually limitless repertoire of culinary dishes. It can even excel when used to create pasta recipes. You could cook these slowly, at a cooler heat in the oven. Alternatively, you can do what we tend to do here and cover with foil and cook at a higher heat. You just then uncover for just long enough for the flames to produce a lovely brown topping to your dish.
As an integral part of life in Italy, it is not only important that pasta is correctly prepared but that it is enjoyed in union – together with friends and family. As today is World Pasta Day, we wanted to show you how your Valoriani oven from Orchard Ovens can create family feasts to remember, by sharing with you suggestions of a delicious array of pasta dishes that your wood-fired oven could cook.
Pasta dish suggestions to cook in your wood-fired oven
Our first recommendation has to be a lasagne al forno. This dish of soft, delicate pasta layers, laden with rich beef ragu, is perfect for feeding a hungry family. We heartily recommend having a go at making your own fresh pasta, but the dried variety also works well. if you’re short on time.
There are some great tips in this recipe from Pasta Evangelists on how to elevate your lasagne to a different level, including using a mixture of beef and pork mince, or even shin of beef.
We are huge fans of using seasonal produce, where possible, and this inspiring Pumpkin and Goats Cheese Lasagne by Nigella Lawson will be baked to perfection in your Valoriani wood oven. Slow heat – particularly when the oven is cooling down a little – brings out the natural sweet sugars of the pumpkin and gives a smoky, chargrilled finish to the perfectly melted goats cheese. It’s a great vegetarian option too!
For the ultimate comfort food, look no further than baked macaroni cheese. Here at Orchard Ovens we’ve been known to add pancetta and a sprinkling of bread crumbs mixed with parmesan, to give an extra crunch. As a starting point, try this Best Ever Macaroni Cheese recipe from BBC Good Food – great with a slice of fluffy Focaccia bread (which can also be made in your wood-fired oven!)
If you want to try something a little different, try this Aubergine and Pasta Incaciata recipe from The Food Network, which makes a great table centre-piece and will show-off your wood-fired oven skills to friends and family. It takes a little time to prepare but is worth the hard work!
A Valoriani wood-fired oven is a master at creating one-pot wonders, those magnificent simple and nutritious recipes that are so helpful when cooking for large gatherings or hungry family members. Try this One-Pot Sausage Pasta recipe from Olive magazine for a super-quick dish. If you can get hold of a spicy type of sausage, it really gives this dish an extra kick.
Additional information about a wood-fired oven
If you are keen to take your culinary skills to a new level and would like to discuss how you can incorporate a ready-to-go Valoriani wood-fired or gas-fired oven, or a bespoke build oven scheme from Orchard Ovens into your home or outdoor living space (or outdoor kitchen installation), call us on 01772 250000 or email firstname.lastname@example.org