What Is The Difference Between Mostaccioli And Baked Mostaccioli?
Mostaccioli refers to a type of pasta similar to penne, but with smooth sides rather than ridged ones. The word "Mostaccioli" is derived from the Italian "mostacciolo," which means "little mustache."
On the other hand, Baked Mostaccioli is a dish made using mostaccioli pasta. The pasta is usually cooked with a tomato-based sauce and some kind of meat (often ground beef or Italian sausage), and then layered with cheese and baked in an oven. It's similar to lasagna or baked ziti in its preparation.
So, in essence, the difference lies in that one (Mostaccioli) is the type of pasta, while the other (Baked Mostaccioli) is a pasta dish that uses mostaccioli as a key ingredient.
Do You Bake Pasta Covered Or Uncovered?
Whether you bake pasta covered or uncovered depends on the specific recipe and the texture you're aiming for.
Covering the baking dish with foil for a portion of the cooking time can help to prevent the top from burning or drying out too quickly. The trapped steam helps the pasta cook evenly and the sauce to thicken.
On the other hand, baking uncovered can give the pasta a crispier top layer, as the heat has direct contact with the exposed pasta and cheese.
For dishes like baked mostaccioli, a common practice is to bake the pasta covered for about two-thirds of the cooking time, then remove the foil and continue to bake until the cheese is golden and bubbly. Always follow the specific instructions in your recipe, as the cooking method can vary based on the ingredients used.
What Pasta Is Most Like Mostaccioli?
The pasta that is most like mostaccioli is penne. Both mostaccioli and penne are tubular and cut diagonally at the ends, and are typically about the same size. The main difference is that most mostaccioli noodles have smooth sides, while penne noodles often have ridges. However, there is also a ridged version of mostaccioli, called mostaccioli rigati, which is very similar to penne.
Another similar pasta is ziti, which is also a medium-sized tubular pasta. Ziti is typically larger and has straight cut ends. It's also usually smooth, like mostaccioli, and is often used in baked pasta dishes as well.
Despite their small differences, these pastas can often be used interchangeably in recipes, depending on what's available. The ridges in penne can be beneficial for holding onto thicker sauces, while the smooth sides of mostaccioli and ziti might be preferable for lighter sauces or baked dishes with a lot of cheese.
What Is The Best Pasta Shape For Pasta Bake?
The best pasta shapes for pasta bake are typically ones that have lots of nooks and crannies to hold onto the sauce and any cheese or other ingredients in the dish. Tubular shapes like penne, rigatoni, mostaccioli, or ziti work well because their hollow centers fill with sauce. These shapes are sturdy enough to stand up to baking without becoming too soft or falling apart.
Other good options include shapes with ridges or other surface textures, like farfalle (bow ties), fusilli (corkscrews), or shells. These types of pasta catch and hold onto sauce well, which means every bite will be flavorful.
However, keep in mind that the best pasta shape can also depend on the specific recipe and the sauce you're using. For instance, if you're making a baked pasta with a chunky vegetable sauce, you might prefer a pasta shape that can catch and hold onto the chunks, like shells or rigatoni.
In the end, the best pasta for a pasta bake is largely a matter of personal preference. Don't be afraid to experiment with different shapes to find what you like best!
For more, check out our ‘Types of Pasta’ article.
What To Serve with Baked Mostaccioli?
Baked Mostaccioli is a hearty and flavorful pasta dish that pairs well with a variety of accompaniments to create a well-rounded and satisfying meal. Here are some delicious options to serve with Baked Mostaccioli:
Garlic Bread: A classic choice to serve with pasta dishes, garlic bread complements the flavors of Baked Mostaccioli perfectly. The combination of warm, buttery, and garlicky bread alongside the pasta is simply irresistible.
Caprese Salad: A simple Caprese salad with ripe tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, basil leaves, and a drizzle of balsamic glaze adds a burst of freshness and complements the Italian flavors of the Baked Mostaccioli.
Roasted Vegetables: Roasted vegetables like zucchini, bell peppers, eggplant, or broccoli add a delightful contrast to the pasta dish. The caramelized flavors of the vegetables complement the savory sauce of the Baked Mostaccioli.
Caesar Salad: A Caesar salad with crisp romaine lettuce, homemade croutons, Parmesan cheese, and tangy Caesar dressing is a fantastic accompaniment to the pasta. The flavors of the salad complement the richness of the Baked Mostaccioli.
Italian Antipasto Platter: Create an Italian-inspired antipasto platter with cured meats, olives, marinated vegetables, cheeses, and breadsticks. This offers a variety of flavors and textures that pair well with the pasta dish.
History of Baked Mostaccioli
"Baked Mostaccioli," or "Mostaccioli al Forno" as it's known in Italy, traces its roots back to the rich culinary history of Italy, particularly in the southern regions. This hearty pasta dish represents rustic, family-style Italian cuisine, symbolizing warmth, comfort, and satisfaction. It's perfect for family gatherings, potlucks, or when you need a meal that can be made ahead of time and feeds a crowd, hence the name 'easy baked mostaccioli'.
The dish is characteristically made with mostaccioli pasta, a type of smooth or ridged tubular pasta much like penne, but typically larger. It's then combined with savory tomato sauce, generous amounts of cheese, and often includes ground meat or sausage. But the unique aspect of this dish is the incorporation of ricotta cheese. The 'baked mostaccioli with ricotta' version adds a layer of creamy richness to the dish that beautifully contrasts the tangy tomato sauce, taking the comfort food aspect to the next level.
Over time, the dish has been adapted and evolved with numerous variations worldwide. One such adaptation is the 'baked mostaccioli pasta', where different types of pasta such as penne or ziti can be used instead of mostaccioli. It allows for flexibility depending on the pasta available in your pantry, without compromising on the traditional flavors. Regardless of the pasta shape, it's the heartwarming combination of baked pasta, tangy tomato sauce, creamy ricotta, and melted cheese that makes this dish an irresistible comfort food favorite.