In the world of homemade pasta, none is as decadent and worth-while as this baked mostaccioli. This is by far one of my favorite pasta recipes with layers of deep, rich flavors and cheesy goodness browned to perfection on top.
This baked mostaccioli isn’t just another pasta recipe. These little tube-shaped pasta in their robust meaty sauce evoke images of grandma’s open-windowed kitchen with the rolling hills of the Italian countryside in the background! The savory aroma virtually envelopes my body drawing me to the open door of the oven and that delicious bubbling dish inside. Salivating yet?
Me, too, let’s get started!
I will tell you that it is easy to fall in love with this baked mostaccioli dish. Its rich, creamy, decadent, nutritious and super easy to make. What more could you ask for? You may even already have the ingredients in your kitchen, and it comes together quickly! Here are some of its best qualities.
- Oven does the heavy lifting
- Great for potlucks
- Makes 6 generous servings
- Plenty of cheesy goodness
Making baked mostaccioli taste outstanding is easy when you know all the little tricks to coaxing out the best flavors. For instance, you must salt your pasta water! No, it doesn’t lower the boiling point of the water, but it does add a ton of flavor.
Pasta naturally absorbs water as it cooks. If that water is properly salted, it will absorb salt too. This process essentially seasons the pasta from the inside out giving a far superior flavor. Be generous, too. I have found that about 1 ½ – 2 tablespoons of salt works best in 4-6 quarts of water.
Sautéing the vegetables is very important to the flavor of the finished dish. It brings out their natural sweetness for a more mellow balanced flavor profile. This is also when you want to add your spices. Toasting them in a warm pan allows them to release their aromatic nuances and reinvigorate flavors. In essence, it lets them bloom.
Now, if you are in the mood to spend the day in the kitchen by all means make your sauces from scratch. But, the store-bought variety work wonders for this dish and even make it doable on a busy weeknight. Don’t just buy the cheapest jar you find though. If you don’t love the sauce straight from the jar, then you won’t love it in this dish either!
Since the mostaccioli pasta is the star of your dish, you’ll want to make sure it is cooked to a tee. Cooking your pasta al dente will prevent it from becoming mushy as it continues to cook in the oven. Al dente is slightly firm, but not hard, in the middle.
Chopping all the aromatic veggies roughly the same size also helps the flavor profile. If they are similar in size, then all the little pieces will reach the same stage in the cooking process together. It’s kind of a scientific thing but it reeeally helps with flavor too!
Using your favorite sweet Italian sausage amps up the taste factor of your baked mostaccioli tremendously! Just make sure you remove the casing and cook it like ground beef. That slightly sweet savory meat adds something very special that just sends this dish over the top!
Store this dish in an airtight container with a secure lid in the refrigerator and it should stay fresh for 3-5 days. Be sure to follow the FDA recommendations for food safety and refrigeration. This includes ensuring that your fridge is set to 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
Don’t worry, though. There typically aren’t many leftovers with this dish unless you’re doing food prep or you make a double batch.
Can You Freeze This?
Yes!! Your mostaccioli can be a make ahead freezer meal. It just makes things so much easier during the week. Just follow the recipe instructions and do NOT bake. Seal it and toss it in the freezer instead. It can stay parked frozen for up to 3 months-time.
Simply slow thaw your mostaccioli in the fridge overnight the day before baking.
Make Ahead Tips
This dish is easy to throw together on prep day too! Just follow the recipe instructions and store in an airtight container in the fridge. Remove it from the fridge about 30 minutes before baking. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Baked, covered, for 50-60 minutes.
I love making it this way because it’s one of those dishes that just tastes better to me the next day! I think its because it gives all the of the flavors plenty of time to mingle.
How Long Can You Keep This In The Fridge?
The USDA recommends 3-5 days for maximum freshness and food safety. Of course, you should also follow safe handling instructions such as not allowing it to sit out of the fridge for more than 2 hours at a time.
Ohh! There are so many variations I don’t know where to start. Of course, much of this depends on personal preference and dietary restrictions. For instance, I love mostaccioli in this recipe, but ziti and penne work just fine too. The mostaccioli has just a little larger ‘tubing’ or valuable real estate to transport all the yummy meat sauce but that’s just my opinion.
While the sweet Italian sausage really amps up the flavor of this dish, you could use turkey sausage if you’re trying to save calories. Using a half and half mixture of Sweet Italian sausage and turkey sausage gives you the best of both worlds.
Some people even like to add a few more veggies, like mushrooms or peppers, to the dish. Experimenting with different cheeses is also a popular option. You may prefer a six-cheese Italian blend to mozzarella or perhaps cheddar is your thing.
Another really neat thing you can do with this dish is to make it reminiscent of lasagna. Simply use a larger baking dish and add a layer of ricotta cheese to the middle of your pasta.
Can I Cook This In A Pot?
I guess you probably could, but I like to make mine in the oven. After all, it is your mostaccioli dish. Beefaroni is actually a great recipe for a pot or even the crockpot. Ragu Bolognese and beefaroni are both nutritious kid-friendly meals that you can make in a single pot. Plus, they work well in the crockpot and they are ready when you are.
I love the smell of the kitchen once the deep aromatic dinner flavors have permeated the air. There is nothing better than walking right into it after a long hard day and knowing that dinner is ready.
Can I Make This Into A Stuffed Pasta?
Sure!! This mostaccioli makes an amazing stuffed pasta recipe. Of course, manicotti and cannelloni are the most popular options.
You could even make the traditional versions of these recipes for a deep flavor profile with an authentic Italian flair. Both ways work and you’ve got a couple of new recipes to put in your dinner rotation.
What Other Types of Pasta I Can Use?
Ravioli and rigatoni both work wonders in this dish. And let me tell you, Chef Boyardee just thought he knew ravioli! You could also make the traditional versions of ravioli or rigatoni for an easy Italian feast around the dinner table.
Garganelli, mezzelune and even rigate can be used in this recipe. The possibilities are endless. I do find that this dish seems to taste better with a little bit larger pasta that can really carry the meat sauce but that’s just my opinion.
Can This Be Turned Into Taco Flavored Pasta?
Sure! If taco pasta floats your boat, then I say go for it! You could even get some of those larger pasta shells and make taco stuffed shells for an incredible meal your family will taco ‘bout for a long time! I know, that was kind of corny, but they will request your taco stuffed shells for years to come. My family really just fell in love with that dish.
Can I Omit The Sauce?
I suppose that omitting the sauce is one way to change this recipe a bit. If you are really looking for a flavor packed dish in this category, then try my pasta primavera or cacio e pepe.
These are sauceless pasta dishes with robust flavor profiles that really feature the pasta. They are both potluck and picnic ready!
- 1 16 ounce box mostaccioli
- 1 1/2 pounds sweet Italian sausage casing removed
- 2 cups yellow onion chopped
- 1 tablespoon garlic minced
- 1 1/2 tablespoon dried Italian seasoning
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 24 ounce jar spaghetti sauce
- 1 15 ounce jar Alfredo sauce
- 16 ounces Mozzarella shredded~divided
- fresh parsley Chopped
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9X13 inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.
- Cook pasta according to package intructions, in a large pot, just until al dente. Drain and set aside. Dry out pot and set aside.
- In another large pot, brown sausage over medium heat, crumbling with a spoon as it cooks, until no longer pink; Remove sausage to paper towel lined plate and set aside. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of the fat from the pan. Add the onion, garlic, dried Italian seasoning, salt and pepper and sautee on low heat until they're very soft, about 10 minutes. Add spaghetti sauce, alfredo sauce, and drained sausage, to skillet and mix.
- In the dried pasta pot combine the drained pasta, half the mozzarella, and the sausage-sauce mixture. Mix until evenly combined. Pour into prepared baking pan. Evenly sprinkle top with remaining mozzarella. Bake, uncovered, in preheated oven 40-50 minutes, until heated through and cheese is melted. Garnish with fresh parsely. Serve
Homemade Pasta dishes offer some amazing flavor combinations and lots of variety. Pasta has always been one of my downfalls because I just can’t resist all the savory yummy flavor combinations. Plus, there are so many ways to make a hearty nutritious meal that you never run out of dinner options.
Here are some homemade pasta recipes, besides this awesome mostaccioli, that you’ll want to put on the menu!
Mostaccioli is a dish with deep savory flavors and an Italian zest that warms the soul. It’s a favorite among crowds, kids and even potlucks. Pair it with a simple green salad and some garlic bread for a meal that will bring the gang running to the dinner table way before you call them. The fact that it’s doable on a busy weeknight just makes it even better!
Baked mostaccioli is one of my family’s favorite homemade pasta dishes and I’m sure it will become a staple in your kitchen too!