Baked Mostaccioli with homemade meat sauce blanketed in three kinds of cheese is baked to perfection. This easy, family-friendly classic recipe is a guaranteed crowd pleaser.
It’s a full court press this time of year so if you’re (a) having out of town company, (b) planning to feed a few people beyond the holiday or(c) looking for something new for your holiday meal, this is your recipe.
Homemade tomato meat sauce blended with pasta plus three kinds of cheese. Baked Mostaccioli is easy to make, over-the-top good and one of those dishes everyone enjoys – even the pickiest eater!
I love a good Roasted Tomato Marinara with summer tomatoes but when fresh local tomatoes are gone, I turn to pantry ingredients so I can enjoy the taste year round.
You can use white pasta or whole grain and mostaccioli, ziti or penne pasta all work well in this recipe.
Baked Mostaccioli easily feeds a crowd. Serve it with garlic bread and a salad and it’s guaranteed to please. You can even prep the mostaccioli ahead of time in about 10 minutes then let it bake while you watch the game or catch up with friends.
- Generously season the pasta water so every ingredient in your dish is flavored. Pasta sets the groundwork for the dish.
- Try buying tomato paste in a tube (similar to toothpaste). It stores easily in the refrigerator then you use only as much as you like without waste.
- Dry Italian Seasoning is a great spice to keep on hand for dishes like this and many others. It’s the ideal balance of marjoram, thyme, rosemary, sage, oregano and basil.
What’s in this Baked Mostaccioli recipe?
- pasta + reserved pasta water
- olive oil
- ground round
- salt and pepper to taste
- fresh mushrooms (optional)
- garlic cloves
- tomato paste
- dry Italian seasoning
- tomato sauce
- fresh parsley
- ricotta cheese
- parmesan cheese
- mozzarella cheese
How to make Baked Mostaccioli:
Cook the pasta according to package directions before it reaches al dente (usually 2 minutes less than the shortest time on the package) It will 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.
Drizzle the olive oil into a large skillet over medium heat then add the ground beef, onions, (optional) mushrooms and grated garlic. Season with salt and pepper and cook until the beef is no longer pink, breaking up the clumps with a wooden spoon or spatula.
Lower the heat to medium, fold in the tomato paste, Italian seasoning, reserved pasta water, tomato sauce and parsley then cook 3-4 minutes.
Fold the ricotta cheese into the sauce then add the cooked pasta stirring well to combine.
Use the butter to grease 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 25-30 minutes or until the cheese is melted and starting to brown. Serve with your favorite red wine, bakery bread or garlic toast and salad.
If you tried this Baked Mostaccioli recipe or any other on the blog then I’d love to hear from you with a comment or star rating in the recipe box!
- 8 ounces pasta mostaccioli, penne, ziti or other short pasta
- ¼ cup pasta water
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 pound ground round
- 1 medium onion finely chopped
- 4 ounces fresh mushrooms sliced OPTIONAL
- 3 cloves garlic grated
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
- 28 ounce can tomato sauce
- ¼ cup fresh chopped parsley
- ½ cup ricotta
- ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
- 3 cups grated mozzarella cheese
- 1 tablespoon butter
- Cook the pasta just BEFORE it reaches al dente (this is usually 2 minutes less than the shortest cooking time on the package). 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 and cook 3-4 minutes then fold in the ricotta and pasta, combining completely.
- Butter a 9×13 baking dish, then add half of the mostaccioli to the dish. Top with half of the mozzarella then add the rest of the mostaccioli, the remaining mozzarella and parmesan cheese then bake uncovered at 350° for 25-30 minutes or until the cheese is melted. Serve hot.
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