By Sue Lau | Palatable Pastime
Baked Mostaccioli is my recipe of the day with the blogging group Foodie Extravaganza. We post monthly on the first Wednesday for whichever food holiday the group decides will be the theme.
This month it is National Pasta Month. Camilla is hosting and has asked us to share our favorite noodle recipes.
I decided upon Mostaccioli which is a baked casserole that is quite often found in the Midwest in places like St. Louis (my hometown) as well as Chicago. These cities have quite a local population of Italian immigrants that goes way back.
What are Mostaccioli Noodles?
The noodles used in mostaccioli are the penne lisce noodles. These are essentially smooth penne pasta. And the others are called penne rigate. Which just means those penne noodles have ridges. Also similar are ziti noodles. Those are longer and more narrow than penne pasta. Any of these can be used in this recipe.
Is Ridged Pasta Better?
Italians generally like penne rigate. Since the ridges hold the sauce to them better. But others can argue that the smooth pasta releases less starch into the water. Because of the slightly longer cooking time. So in essence, that “cling” may be due to the starch alone.
I don’t see much difference myself. And in fact, some pasta companies will market mostaccioli noodles with the ridged penne rigate.
Mostaccioli as Traditional Italian American Pasta
For me, mostaccioli is more a tradition in the midwest. Many family restaurant will serve it either with meat sauce or marinara. And you can also get meatballs added at extra charge.
Mostaccioli is also a wedding tradition. It is part of a Midwestern trifecta of what to traditionally serve at the buffet. Which was most often fried chicken, ham, and mostaccioli. At weddings, you will likely not see the meatballs (for economical reasons). But it is true comfort food.
At home, it rivals baked spaghetti, baked Riggies (rigatoni) and lasagna as a casserole pasta of choice. Filling and delicious, it will serve quite a few. Pair it with some salad and garlic bread and you’re all set.
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First, I have Lasagne for two (or three!), made in a loaf pan instead of a larger casserole, which is perfectly sized for a romantic meal or small family.
Next, Cavatini has a trio of pasta shapes with three kinds of meat mixed with veggies and cheese and baked until piping hot.
Then I have Slow Cooker Spaghetti Sauce, which combines beef and Italian sausage, vegetables and seasonings to make a classic meat sauce for spaghetti.
As well, I have Baked Ziti with a delicious creamy sauce. This is a perfect comfort food supper.
Finally, I have Rigatoni with a meaty bolognese sauce from the slow cooker and a wine pairing.
- oblong baking dish or lasagna pan
- 1 pound lean ground beef
- 1 large onion (chopped)
- 1 green bell pepper (chopped)
- 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
- 2 teaspoons dried basil
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 15 ounce can crushed tomatoes or passata sauce
- 25 ounces bottled marinara sauce
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
Pasta & Other:
- 16 ounces uncooked mostaccioli noodles (or penne pasta)
- 14 ounce package frozen Italian style meatballs
- 3 ounces diced pepperoni
- 8 ounces shredded mozzarella/provolone cheese mix or Italian blend shredded cheese
- Preheat oven to 350F.
- Spray an oblong baking pan or lasagne/casserole dish with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.
- Cook pasta in boiling salted water according to package directions and drain.
- While pasta cooks, brown beef with onion, bell pepper, garlic and seasonings in a large deep skillet.
- Drain any accumulated fat.
- Add crushed tomatoes, marinara sauce and sugar to pan and stir well.
- Mix in the meatballs and pepperoni and simmer until meatballs have thawed and warmed.
- Combine sauce and pasta in a large mixing bowl and place in the baking dish.
- Top with shredded cheese.
- Bake for 25 minutes or until hot and cheese melted and slightly golden.
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