A mostaccioli pasta recipe made with a variety of flavors, including smoked Italian sausage, Cajun seasonings, rich chili paste and plenty of melty cheese. A big flavor comfort food. It's how I cook when I think no one is looking.
I'm not entirely sure what to call this recipe. It's a mashup, really, a combination of different styles and flavors, nothing you'd find in any typical Italian kitchen or Cajun kitchen or Mexican kitchen or even a Tex-Mex kitchen. It's an amalgam, a mystery within a puzzle within a conundrum of sorts. OK, it's not so crazy, but it IS big on flavor. I say this is how I cook when I think no one is looking because, with a recipe like this, it comprises me snatching items from the refrigerator and cupboard and tossing them into the dish to see how it works. This is how family recipes are made! And with this one, YES, we have a new favorite.
So I'm calling it "Mike's Mad Dog Mostaccioli". I recently posted a recipe for the Ancho-Guajillo Paste that I keep in the fridge. It is ideal for recipes like this. It's a quick go-to - just a spoonful or two added to your sauce mixture and you're well on your way to a satisfying meal. If you don't make the paste, sub in a different store bought chili paste, or even some tomato paste with additional seasonings like dried ancho powder or additional Cajun seasonings. You won't achieve the exact same flavors, but it will still be delicious. It's difficult to mess this one up. It's also "Quick and Easy" because you don't need the sauce to simmer long. Mix it up with cooked noodles, top with cheese, then bake for 10 minutes. Done!
It's difficult for me to describe the flavor other than DANG! YUM! Just a bit of cheese - not too much, you don't want this drowning in cheese - the Ancho-Guajillo paste flavor, the smokiness and fatiness from the Italian sausage, the Cajun flair. It's a powerful mixture that has been instantly added to my "Mike's Favorites" list. Give it a try and let me know what you think. I think you'll be adding it to your own favorites as well.
Mike's Mad Dog Mostaccioli - Recipe
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 red jalapeno peppers, chopped
- 1 small yellow onion, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 4 ounces smoked Italian sausage, sliced
- 1 15-ounce can tomato sauce
- 2 tablespoons Ancho-Guajillo Paste (sub in a different chili paste, or add tomato paste with another tablespoon of the Cajun seasonings – flavors won’t be exactly the same, but it will still be good!)
- 2 tablespoons Cajun seasoning
- ¼ cup chopped cilantro + more for serving
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 2 ounces shredded Cheddar cheese
- 2 ounces shredded pepper jack cheese
- 6 ounces prepared mostaccioli noodles
- Heat a large pan to medium heat and add olive oil. Add jalapeno peppers and onion and cook about 6 minutes to soften.
- Add garlic and sausage and cook another minute, stirring a bit.
- Add tomato sauce, chili paste, Cajun seasonings and cilantro. Dash with a bit of salt and pepper and stir.
- Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer about 20 minutes.
- Heat oven to 350 degrees.
- Add prepared noodles to a 6x6 baking dish. Pour your sauce over it and mix.
- Top with cheeses and bake for 10 minutes to melt the cheese.
- Top with a bit of extra cilantro or parsley and serve!