Warning: This Baked Mostaccioli is not your sports banquet mostaccioli. This pasta is blanketed in layers of robust tomato flavor, mozzarella, parmesan and ricotta cheese and it is utterly delicious.
I’ve been like a kid on summer vacation the last few weeks. Sleeping in, reading books from my local library, boating, two weekends away and alas, not tackling chores I should have, including routinely updating my blog with new recipes.
It’s been a good summer, but Labor Day has passed, the school buses are rolling again and it’s officially time I stop slacking and start remembering what day of the week it is. That calls for an especially good, practically unforgettable recipe and Baked Mostaccioli covers all the bases.
I’ve made pasta more times than I can count. If it weren’t for the darn calorie factor, I would eat it every day. Not long ago a good friend told me she looked on my blog for a Mostaccioli recipe but didn’t find one. She’s right. Somehow the obvious was overlooked.
She found another Mostaccioli recipe online that she shared with me. It was delicious (some may say even breakfast worthy ~ don’t judge) but I wanted to create a recipe using some of my favorite sauce ingredients you can make year around and the result is this Baked Mostaccioli ~ three-cheesy and packed with over-the-top, robust delicious flavor ~ and oh yeah, it’s breakfast worthy, too.
I used a whole grain pasta in this recipe ~ the other leaf I’m turning over ~ eating a bit healthier where I can without sacrificing taste, but use what you prefer. You may notice this pasta has lines, meaning it’s not technically mostaccioli but actually penne pasta. True mostaccioli has no lines and as far as I know, that’s the basic difference between the two. I used penne because that’s what I found in whole grain. You can also use ziti in this recipe as well.
Baked Mostaccioli (um penne) is a great any-night dish and ideal for a crowd because it serves an army ~ especially good for Sunday football gatherings because you can make it ahead of time and let it bake while you watch the game or catch up with friends. It’s a guaranteed pleaser that disappears fast.
I added fresh herbs, one the best ways to elevate an everyday dish and though this isn’t a 30 minute stove-to-table recipe, the prep time is quick (about 10 minutes) and once it’s in the oven you can do whatever feel like doing ~ maybe pour a glass of wine to enjoy with this cheesy, tomatey 9×13 pan of deliciousness.
When my daughters were high school cheerleaders the season always ended with a big sports banquet. The menu was pretty much the same year to year and always included a huge pan of mostaccioli. They were feeding teenagers, after all.
Friends, this Baked Mostaccioli is not your sports banquet mostaccioli. It’s layers of robust tomato goodness blanketed in layers of melted cheese. Make it once and it’ll become your comfort go-to.
Baked Mostaccioli is labor intensive lasagna’s cousin ~ simple, unpretentious and every bit as delicious. No one needs to know how quick it is to prepare; they’ll be focused the flavor.
Tip #1: Be sure to generously season the pasta water so every ingredient in your dish is flavored. Pasta sets the groundwork for the dish.
Tip #2: I love the convenience and easy storage of tomato paste in a tube (like toothpaste). It stores easily in the refrigerator and you use only as much as you like, without waste.
Tip #3: Italian Seasoning is a great spice to keep on hand for this dish and many others. It’s the ideal balance of marjoram, thyme, rosemary, sage, oregano and basil.
Baked Mostaccioli Ingredients:
- 8 ounces (half box) of mostaccioli
- 1/4 cup reserved pasta water
- Drizzle of olive oil (about 1 tablespoon )
- 1 pound of ground round (ground chuck can be used but drain any excess grease after cooking)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- (optional) 8 ounces fresh mushrooms, sliced
- 3 cloves of garlic, grated
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon of Italian seasoning
- 1 – 28 ounce can of tomato sauce
- ¼ cup of pasta water
- ¼ cup fresh chopped parsley
- ½ cup ricotta (cottage cheese drained of its liquid can be used instead)
- ¼ cup of grated parmesan cheese
- 3 cups of grated mozzarella cheese
- 1 tablespoon of butter
Start by cooking the pasta just to the point before it reaches al dente. It’ll finish cooking as it bakes. Reserve ¼ cup of pasta water then drain the pasta and rinse it with cold water to stop the cooking process.
Warm a deep skillet over medium-high heat then add a drizzle of olive oil, the ground beef, onions, mushrooms (optional) and grated garlic. Give it a good seasoning of salt and pepper and cook until the beef is no longer pink, breaking it up with a wooden spoon or spatula.
Tip #4: A great way to infuse more flavor into any meat by searing. When you add the beef to the skillet, spread it out then let it sear over medium-high heat for several minutes before turning and breaking it up.
Once the beef is cooked, lower the heat to medium, fold in the tomato paste, Italian seasoning, reserved pasta water, parsley and tomato sauce and cook a couple of minutes.
Blend in the ricotta then add the pasta, combining completely.
Butter (yes butter) a 9×13 baking dish, then add half of the mostaccioli to the baking dish. Top with half of the mozzarella then add the rest of the mostaccioli, the remaining mozzarella and parmesan cheese.
Bake uncovered at 350° for 40 minutes. Serve with your favorite red wine, bakery bread or garlic toast and salad.
I mentioned I was lucky enough to get away two weekends this summer. Both were to the west side of Michigan, just a few hours from home. As a lifelong Michigander it doesn’t take much to convince me to get out of town during the winter months, but in my *unbiased* opinion, Michigan is one of the best places to be in the summer, especially if it’s near one of our Great Lakes.
One weekend trip was with my husband and another couple salmon fishing on a charter boat. Those 20 pound fish can fight and we caught quite a few of them! It was a lot of fun and a great weekend.
We came home with about 30 pounds of fileted salmon, now vacuum sealed in our freezer ~ plenty for the entire winter and spring, so not only will I be sharing some of my favorite salmon recipes over the next few months, I’d love to try yours, too! Leave a comment for me please.
The second weekend getaway was a mother-daughter trip with lots of laughs and plenty of delicious food and wine. While we were there, I had a really ah-mazing dish, Chicken Pesto Mac and Cheese at Taste, a restaurant in South Haven. Tender bites of chicken and macaroni in a creamy, silky cheese sauce enhanced with freshly made basil pesto.
It was so good, we went back to the restaurant that same weekend and I ordered it again. I’m a huge pesto fan and when it’s paired with pasta and melted cheese, I practically swoon. I’ll be recreating the dish very soon, so keep an eye out for it on the blog. It’s definitely one worth sharing ~ or not ~ it’s your choice. It’s that good.
If you like this Baked Mostaccioli but have your heart set on lasagna, try this any-night Skillet Lasagna ~ a simple yet decadent, one-pan recipe ideal for weeknights.
If you tried this recipe or any other on the blog, don’t forget to leave a comment or star rating ~ I love hearing from you!
- Drizzle olive oil about 1 tablespoon
- 1 pound ground round
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 medium onion finely chopped
- 8 ounces fresh mushrooms sliced OPTIONAL
- 3 cloves garlic grated
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- 1 28 ounce can tomato sauce
- ¼ cup pasta water
- ¼ cup fresh chopped parsley
- ½ cup ricotta
- ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
- 3 cups grated mozzarella cheese
- 1 tablespoon butter
- Cook the pasta just BEFORE it reaches al dente. RESERVE ¼ cup of pasta water then drain the pasta and rinse it with cold water to stop the cooking process.
- Warm a deep skillet over medium-high heat then add a drizzle of olive oil, the ground beef, onions, (optional) mushrooms and grated garlic. Season with salt and pepper and cook until the beef is no longer pink, breaking it up with a wooden spoon or spatula.
- Once the beef is cooked, fold in the tomato paste, Italian seasoning, reserved pasta water, parsley and tomato sauce.
- Cook a couple of minutes over medium heat then blend in the ricotta and pasta, combining completely.
- Butter a 9×13 baking dish, then add half of the mostaccioli to the baking dish. Top with half of the mozzarella then add the rest of the mostaccioli, the remaining mozzarella and parmesan cheese.
- Bake uncovered at 350° for 40 minutes.