Baked Mostaccioli: A Hearty and Flavorful Pasta Bake

Baked Mostaccioli is a comforting and satisfying dish that combines tender pasta, flavorful tomato sauce, creamy cheese, and savory meats into a delicious baked casserole. This hearty pasta bake is perfect for feeding a crowd or enjoying as a cozy family meal. In this culinary guide, we’ll explore how to make a mouthwatering Baked Mostaccioli that will become a favorite in your recipe collection.

Why Choose Baked Mostaccioli?

  1. Rich and Flavorful: The combination of pasta, sauce, cheese, and meat creates layers of flavors that meld together beautifully during baking.
  2. Feeds a Crowd: This dish is ideal for gatherings, potlucks, or meal prepping as it can be easily scaled up to serve larger groups.
  3. Versatile Ingredients: You can customize the ingredients to suit your taste preferences, making it a versatile and adaptable recipe.

Ingredients You’ll Need:

  • 1 pound mostaccioli or penne pasta
  • 1 pound ground Italian sausage or ground beef
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 24 ounces marinara sauce or homemade tomato sauce
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • Fresh basil or parsley for garnish (optional)

Cooking Equipment:

  • Large pot for cooking pasta
  • Large skillet or saucepan
  • 9×13 inch baking dish
  • Cooking oil or spray
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  • INSTRUCTIONS: 

1. Preheat Oven and Prepare Ingredients:

  • Preheat your oven to 375°F (190°C) and grease a 9×13 inch baking dish with cooking oil or spray.
  • Cook the pasta according to the package instructions until al dente. Drain and set aside.

2. Brown the Meat and Aromatics:

  • In a large skillet or saucepan, heat a little oil over medium heat. Add the chopped onion and garlic, and sauté until softened and fragrant.
  • Add the ground Italian sausage or beef to the skillet and cook until browned and cooked through. Drain excess fat if necessary.

3. Prepare the Sauce:

  • Pour the marinara sauce into the skillet with the cooked meat and aromatics. Stir in dried oregano, dried basil, salt, and pepper to taste. Let the sauce simmer for a few minutes to combine flavors.

4. Combine Pasta and Sauce:

  • Add the cooked mostaccioli or penne pasta to the skillet with the sauce and meat mixture. Stir well until the pasta is evenly coated with sauce.

5. Layer in Baking Dish:

  • Transfer half of the pasta mixture to the greased baking dish, spreading it out evenly.
  • Sprinkle half of the shredded mozzarella cheese and grated Parmesan cheese over the pasta layer.

6. Repeat Layers:

  • Add the remaining pasta mixture on top of the cheese layer, spreading it out evenly again.
  • Sprinkle the remaining shredded mozzarella cheese and grated Parmesan cheese over the top.

7. Bake to Perfection:

  • Cover the baking dish with foil and place it in the preheated oven. Bake for about 25-30 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and bubbly.
  • For a golden and slightly crispy top, remove the foil during the last 5-10 minutes of baking.
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8. Garnish and Serve:

  • Once baked, remove the dish from the oven and let it cool slightly before serving.
  • Garnish with fresh basil or parsley if desired before slicing and serving portions of the delicious Baked Mostaccioli.

Tips for Perfect Baked Mostaccioli:

  1. Sauce Consistency: Ensure your sauce is not too watery to prevent the dish from becoming soggy during baking.
  2. Cheese Blend: Feel free to mix in other cheeses such as provolone or ricotta for added creaminess and flavor.
  3. Make-Ahead: You can assemble the dish ahead of time and refrigerate it before baking. Just increase the baking time slightly if baking from cold.
  4. Customize Additions: Add diced bell peppers, mushrooms, or spinach to the sauce for added vegetables and flavor.

By following these steps and tips, you’ll create a delicious and comforting Baked Mostaccioli that’s perfect for sharing with family and friends. Enjoy the hearty flavors and cheesy goodness of this classic pasta bake

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