After Uncle Gene's funeral the other day, there was a luncheon for the family and friends. I mentioned in my previous post about the baked mostaccioli and how good it was. Well, I set out to try to make it on my own. It turned out good, but not the same. I had to use penne rigate because Melon Man's store didn't carry mostaccioli. There were too many noodles and not enough sauce. But, it was still good, so I decided to add the recipe and instructions here. I'll add the changes at the end that I will make when I make it again so it's more like I want it to be.
Ingredients for Kristin's Baked Penne
1 lb penne rigate quick cook noodles
1 T salt or 1 T oil
2 lbs bulk mild italian sausage
1 medium to large onion, diced
7 - 8 oz cans tomato sauce
2 T dry basil
1 to 2 t black pepper
1 lb mozzarella cheese - not pre-grated
1 lb ricotta cheese
Some of the characters in this little party...
Bring a pot of water to boil. Add 1 T salt. This will give your noodles some additional flavor and will prevent the noodles from clumping together. It actually also brings your water to boil faster too! If you're not into salt, use 1 T oil. At least it will help prevent the noodles from sticking together.
Dump in the box of noodles and stir to prevent clumping. Okay, here is one of the changes. This penne was small and so there was a LOT of it. If we'd been able to buy mostaccioli, I think the dish would have been better because there wouldn't have been so much pasta to soak up the sauce. If you buy the quick cook pasta, it says it takes 3 minutes from coming to a boil again. Time it from when you dump in the pasta, not from when it boils again. I did that and it was just a tiny past where I wanted it to be, but it was still a tiny bit al dente. Probably 2.5 minutes would have been best.
While the pasta is cooking, start browing your sausage. Mash it up so it's in small pieces, but not super small like in sausage gravy. You really want to be able to taste the sausage when you take a bite of this dish!
As if you don't already have enough to do in the 2.5 to 3 minutes that the pasta is cooking, dice up your onion...
Throw it in the pan with the sausage and smell the goodness. If you want to taste a piece of the cooked sausage, go ahead. Nobody's lookin'.
By now, your pasta should be ready to drain. Drain the pasta in a collander. It will look something like this! Set it aside.
Open up 7 of those small 8 oz cans of tomato sauce. Have an eighth one on standby in case you need it.
Drain the sausage of any grease. Return the pan to the stove and pour the tomato sauce in with the sausage and onions.
Add the yum now. Add the basil and black pepper. Mmmmm...basil...mmmmm...goooood. Stir it all up really well. Go ahead...taste it. Yum. Turn it down to oh, about #4 on your electric stove setting, and let it simmer while you work on the other ingredients.
Next, grate your mozzarella cheese. All of it. Use a little more if you want. I wish I had. I LOVE cheese. I use the kind of cheese you have to grate, rather than the pre-grated kind, for everything that calls for cheese. In case you didn't know, the kind in the bag has a preservative/anticlumping powder on it that actually takes the moisture out of the cheese. So...give your forearms a little workout once in a while and go for it...grate the good stuff. It's worth it.
In a bowl, add the ricotta cheese, the mozzarella cheese, and the egg. The egg will help bind everything together.
Stir it up really well. Don't be afraid. Just do it. It's all good. It's easy. Go for it. No worries. Just do it already!
So, now, it's time to add that pasta into the sauce that has simmered for, oh, about 10 minutes. Toss it in and stir it up really well so all those pieces of pasta get coated well.
Now, stir in the cheese goop. Yes, I called it goop. That's what it looks like. It'll taste just fine, even if you call it goop. But get stirring.
It should look like this once it's all stirred in. It kind of looks like a bolognese sauce now. I guess you could call it that, but we won't. Make sure all the cheese goop is mixed in really well. You wouldn't want someone to get a whole big glop of cheese when they go to eat this loveliness! (Unless you're saving it for yourself!)
Pour it into a 9x13x2 glass dish. Mine was up over the top and since it was my first time making it, I was afraid it would boil over so I put a baking sheet under it to stop it from spilling over onto my already dirty oven floor. Bake it at 375* for 30 minutes.
The tips of the pasta should just be getting crispy. Take it out and let it sit for about 5 minutes before serving. Oooooh....do you see that cheese clump right there? It's MINE!
So, there you have it....a cheesy, clumpy casserole of goodness. I thought it was tasty. The sausage just adds a yummy good flavor to it.
NOW, if you want to make it the way I really wanted it to come out, do this....
Kristin's Baked Mostaccioli
Do everything and use everything like above, except....
Eliminate the onions. Definitely use mostaccioli. Use 8 to 9 cans of tomato sauce, not 7. Ease up on the basil. It should be a lot creamier and saucier.
Enjoy and let me know what you think. Oh...and be sure to make some yummy sourdough garlic bread to go with it - no matter which one you make!