Baked Mostiaccioli with Italian Sausage

Did you ever become completely obsessed with having a certain food? This happens to me all the time.

Last weekend, my wife and I were on our way to a crafts show — good husband that I am, I went voluntarily — when we drove past an Italian grocery called Rosario’s. It’s kind of famous here on the South Side of Chicago, primarily because its sign features pigs jumping into a meat grinder to be turned into sausages, which spell out the name of the store. Here’s a photo:

The pigs used to light up sequentially so the sign kind of animated the slaughter of the hogs, but the lights broke years ago. Good times!

Anyway, Rosario’s had a big sign advertising a sale on mostiaccioli. Immediately, it became embedded in my brain and I had to make mostiaccioli.

Penne pasta and mostiaccioli are the same thing. Penne, which is the plural of the Italian word “penna” which means “feather” or “quill”, comes in two versions: penne rigate, which has little grooves along its sides to help the sauce stick to it better, and penne lisce, which has no grooves. Penne lisce is also known as mostiaccioli, which is Italian for “little mustache”.

Oh, those Italians and their pasta names!

Mostiaccioli also can be served the same way you would serve penne rigate, which is boiled, then poured into a pasta bowl and covered with red sauce and parmesan. But growing up we always had it baked in a casserole with tomato sauce and grated parmesan, then smothered with mozzarella cheese. It’s almost like a pizza casserole, except replacing the pizza dough with pasta. Everything else is essentially the same.

I like my mostiaccioli to have a crispy top, so I let it go longer than it probably should. Other people prefer it stringy, like a pizza. You can decide which way you prefer.

Baked Mostiaccioli with Italian Sausage

1 TBS sea salt

1 lb box dry mostiaccioli noodles (or penne or ziti)

14 oz can diced tomatoes

4 oz can tomato sauce

1 TBS tomato paste

2 TBS EVOO, separate

1/2 white onion, medium dice

1/2 green pepper, medium dice

1 jalapeno pepper, ribs and seeds removed, medium dice (optional)

2 cloves garlic, crushed

4 oz can mushroom slices

4 oz can sliced black olives

1 TBS Italian seasoning

1 tsp granulated sugar

1/2 cup grated parmesan

1/2 lb spicy/hot Italian sausage

8 oz grated fresh mozzarella (about 1-1/2 cups)

1. Fill large pot with hot water, add salt, cover and bring to boil. Add pasta and cook to package instructions for al dente, which is slightly undercooked. The pasta will continue to absorb the sauce while it bakes, so you don’t want to boil it too soft or the end product will be mushy. Drain.

2. Meanwhile, put sauce pan on fire. When hot, add half the EVOO. When smoking add onions and peppers and cook until translucent, about five minutes. Add garlic and cook another minute. Add tomato paste and stir aound until mixed in, then add diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, Italian seasoning and sugar and stir together. Bring to boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook until the tin can taste is cooked out and the flavors meld together, about 10 minutes.

3. Put your cast iron pan on the fire. When hot, add remaining EVOO. When smoking, carefully place the sausage in the pan and brown, turning to brown evenly. Cook until cooked almost all the way through, about 5 minutes.

4. In mixing bowl, combine pasta, sauce, sausage and parmesan and mix well with a spatula. Then pour into a casserole dish and top with the mozzarella. Bake at 375F covered for 30 minutes, then uncovered another 10 minutes to crisp up the cheese. Serve in pasta bowls, garnish with parsley sprigs.

This recipe is also easy to cook in bulk and baked mostiaccioli is a standard at South Side block parties, first Communion parties, church picnics and the like.

What are some of your food obsessions? Please share your story in the comments section below. And thanks for looking at my blog!

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8 thoughts on “Baked Mostiaccioli with Italian Sausage

  1. I’ve finally found a butcher that makes a decent kosher sausage, so I think I’ll print this out and take a shot at it, minus the cheese.

    On another note, I’ve been looking through your past entries. How many different styles of plates do you own? there is quite a variety of dishes in your photographs. Not sure why it occurred to me to look, or to notice, or comment, but there it is.
    Going to find a shrink now…

    • That’s a funny question because I always think I’ll get busted for using the same plates over and over. I have one everyday set of dishes and a just a couple of peices. I’m always bugging my wife to go with me to garage and rummage sales so I can find new peices for a little variety in plating.

  2. Excellent spiel. Love the Rosario’s photo!

    Last night we went out to a fundraiser for a friend who is running for sheriff. The salmon, and everything else was exquisite – I was wishing you could’ve been there.

    • I love salmon but Sandi hates it so we can never have it at home.

      I remember one time years ago when I was still married to Kelly and before culinary school the Jewels was selling salmon super cheap, like $1/lb or something, because there was a surplus in Russia. So I bought an entire salmon, head, tail, everything, about 15 lbs. Once I got it home I had no idea what to do with it. I have a much better idea now.

  3. Immediately, upon looking over this entry – which I’ve read in it’s entirety – I examined the neon pig sign, which gave me my first laugh of the day.

    Consequently, two thoughts come to mind: 1.) Pigs – gotta’ love ’em, don’t you know! I recently read/viewed Temple Grandin’s YouTube page & video presentations, which fascinated and reassured me on several levels. 2.) Manicotti – or is it cannelloni? I’d like to see your take on that.

  4. Hi Dan, that looks delicious! You were kind enough to follow my blog a little while ago – I’ve now changed my address, and as I’ve no idea what I’m doing, I don’t know whether it’ll still get through to you or not. If you still want to read it, please sign up again! Sorry! Clare 🙂

  5. Those look wonderful – and I am so envious of you to be able to drive by an Italian delicatessen! Though I guess I should shut up about that and munch on my fresh gravlax, living in Stockholm and all… 😉

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