Can’t Cook, I Can Help . . . Try an Italian Casserole (Mostaccioli)

This Blog has started with a few pretty simple recipes, however this time around I am going to ramp things up a little by delving into the world of casseroles.  For the beginner chefs out there don’t fret, because what I am going to suggest is only slightly more advanced than before.  If cooked properly, this easy to make mostaccioli casserole results in a big portioned, tasty meal sure to please.

Before you get started, this meal you need a few simple ingredients that you can pick up at just about any grocery story:  1) About a pound of Mostaccioli noodles 2) 2 cans of Diced Tomatoes 3) Roughly 1 can each of Tomato sauce and tomato paste 4)1 pound of mild Italian sausage 5) Fresh mozzarella cheese and some Italian blend shredded (or grated) cheese 6) Crushed Garlic.

Start with the noodles and boil them until they reach al dente style (firm pasta, just slightly undercooked), and then drain and strain.

Then cook up the Italian sausage in the same pan you just used.  Load the sausage with what you like as far as seasonings/ salt and pepper.  While working on the sausage, warm up the tomatos adding crushed garlic to it (the garlic can also be added in the final mix).

(As far as substitutions for Italian sausage, different kinds of meat or sausage, especially spicy can make for a really interesting taste.  If using a substitute, try to find other cheeses that fit well with your meat choice.)

Now combine all of this together in a large mixing bowl.  Be sure to add a good portion of the tomato sauce to this mix (especially for sauce lovers like myself).  Add the mozerella cheese to bowl, and stir it up so that it gets blended throughout.

The final major step is to transfer what you have cooked already into a large baking dish, and then into a preheated to 350 degrees oven.  The dish should be covered with aluminum foil and baked for roughly 40 minutes.

When you have reached that point, right away add the side-shredded (or grated) cheese to the top of the dish.  If the plate is hot this should melt across the top of the dish blending it all together, as you bake the whole thing for a few more minutes.

What are you are left with is wonderful beginners casserole that is very fulfilling, and with enough portions to feed a large group or provide plenty of left-overs.  Plus the meal has plenty of cheese in it in to satisfy a Wisconsin native like myself.  Yes, you do have to plan about an hour time to make this meal, its only major drawback.

Suprisingly, I found few other authors around willing to chime in about the glories of an easy to make casserole, but Lisa Kivirist touts the wonders of a late season vegtable casserole.  Meanwhile, Jennifer Lance suggests making a breakfast casserole, using a similar recipe to the one I suggest.  With a just slight modification to the recipe, my mostaccoili casserole can be easily turned into a great breakfast idea.

Be sure to check in next week in for my Thanksgiving spectacular, where I suggest some easy alternatives to the classic turkey dinner.  After that, I shall chime in with my two part St. Louis food travel Blog, featuring some ideas to enjoying a night out in the city, and a simple recipe for making the unusual St. Louis Pizza.

Good Luck and Good Eating.

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