RECIPE: Baked Three Cheese and Sausage Mostaccioli
Before we dive into this little yummy dish, you need to make me a promise.
DO NOT tell my mother I came up with this recipe.
It uses store-bought, jarred tomato sauce. I think that breaks about 5 laws in Italy, and maybe a Catholic one. So don't tell.
I usually have extra homemade sauce in my freezer, but I just didn't for this occasion. I think this dish turned out fantastic anyway, and I didn't need to spend 4 hours dealing with making sauce. Sometimes, we ladies just need to take short cuts, right?
I used cottage cheese in this, but you can certainly use some creamy ricotta as a substitute. And it feeds a lot of people! I made it to bring to my 'n laws pool party last weekend, and everyone loved it. I made it the night before, then gently reheated it before serving in the oven. More pool time for me!
Baked Three Cheese and Sausage Mostaccioli
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 cup chopped onions
2 Tbsp. olive oil
3 sweet Italian sausage links (a little more than 1/2 lb.) casings removed
1/8 tsp. ground pepper
2 jars tomato sauce, 8 oz. each
2 Tbsp. dried parsley
2 tsp. dried basil
healthy sprinkle of salt
2 lbs. mostaccioli
2 cups grated mozzarella
5 oz. of shredded Parmesan cheese
24 oz. small curd cottage cheese, drained
Heat olive oil over medium heat in large sauté pan. Sauté minced garlic and onions until soft and translucent. Add sausage and brown, using a wooden spoon to crumble the meat as it cooks. Once sausage is brown, add the two jars of tomato sauce and stir. Add dried parsley, dried basil and salt. Bring to a boil then lower heat and simmer for ten minutes. Turn off the heat, keep warm.
Cook mostaccioli according to package directions. Drain, and pour back into the pot. Preheat oven to 375°. Spoon a layer of sauce along the bottom of a 15 x 10 baking pan. Ladle some sauce in with the cooked pasta and mix. Spoon half the mostaccioli into the baking pan. Next drizzle half of your sauce over the pasta, then spoon half the cottage cheese over that. Push in the cheese as you go so it nestles into the pasta. Sprinkle half of the Parmesan cheese. Finally sprinkle one cup of shredded mozzarella.
Spoon the rest of the pasta over the cheese layers. Add the rest of the cottage cheese, nestling into the pasta as you go. Then add the grated Parmesan and finally the mozzarella. Your final step is to pour the rest of the sauce over the top layer of pasta, spooning it evenly over the pasta and use the back of the spoon to spread it around evenly. Give the pan a gentle jostle to evenly distribute the sauce as well as settle the pasta. Cover with aluminum foil, and bake in the oven on the middle rack for 45 minutes. Take the aluminum foil off and bake for another 15 minutes to brown the top. Dish should be hot and bubbly and cheese is fully melted. Serve warm.