Monday, March 14, 2011

Meatless Monday: Mostaccioli

My Meatless Monday recipe this week is one of my favorites. It reminds me of my childhood in Chicago, when all my relatives would make "mostaccioli." When someone told me they were making mostaccioli, they meant they were making a mostaccioli bake. It always involved pasta sauce, cheese, and mostaccioli. Then, it would either have pieces of Italian sausage baked into it, or else it would have Italian sausage halves baked on top. I have memories of my grandfather (actually, my step-grandpa, a very proud South Side Irish man) making mostaccioli with Italian sausage on top for me (even after I became vegetarian), instructing me to just "pick off the meat."

A few months ago, I scoured the internet looking for a vegetarian version of this childhood favorite. I found a recipe from Kraft, altered it a bit, and found a new favorite. The best part about this recipe is that it's so simple, but it tastes incredible.

Like most pasta recipes, you can play with this one. I've made this bake with spinach and without. I've made it with fresh basil in it and on top when I've had extra in the fridge. If you're feeling saucy, you can sautee up some onions, garlic, and green pepper and mix it in. And, of course, you don't have to use the ground-meat substitute, but I encourage you to try it and see what you think! If you do try it, I recommend either BOCA brand ground crumbles or Morningstar Farms brand crumbles. What's nice about using the vegetarian substitute for ground beef is you don't have to worry if it's cooked through or not. In this easy bake, you pop it in the oven while it's still frozen! And, if you're a stay-at-home parent like me, you can make this ahead of time, when your little one is napping, and just keep it in the fridge until the evening when you're ready to pop it in the oven. Just give it an extra five minutes baking time.

Ladies and gentlemen, the recipe:

Mostaccioli, serves 8

1/2 of a one-pound box mostaccioli pasta
1 (12 oz) package BOCA or Morningstar Farms ground crumbles
1 (26 oz) jar of your favorite spaghetti sauce
1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese, divided
1 (7 oz) package part-skim mozzarella cheese
1 cup shredded spinach (optional)
1/2 cup shredded fresh basil, divided (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2. Cook pasta according to package instructions

3. Combine cooked pasta with the crumbles, sauce and half (1/4 cup) the parmesan cheese. Stir in the spinach and basil (reserve a small handful of the basil of the top) if using. Pour into a lightly greased 9 x 14 x 4 inch baking dish. Top with the remaining cheese and the reserved basil.

4. Bake for 25-30 minutes until heated through and cheese is bubbly. Cost per seving: Approximately $1.60
Calories per serving: Approximately 325
Protein per serving: Approximately 21 grams

1 comment:

India Stevens said...

Thanks for your story and recipe! I'm going to make this tonight!