macaroni pasticciati the recipe for a rich and delicious starter

Macaroni Pasticciati: The Recipe for a Rich and Delicious Starter


Macaroni pasticciati is a classic Italian dish that is rich in flavors and textures. This baked pasta dish is popular in Italy and abroad, and it’s perfect as a starter for any occasion. Its history dates back to the 18th century when Italy was still under Austrian rule. However, today, this dish features different variations across Italy, making it an exciting meal to try.

In Italian cuisine, pasta dishes are often served as starters, and macaroni pasticciati is one of the most popular ones out there. Whether you are looking to have an authentic Italian meal or want to explore new pasta recipes, macaroni pasticciati is a must-try dish that can’t be missed.

Why it is a must-try dish?

If you love rich flavors, textures, and baked pasta dishes, macaroni pasticciati should be on your list. This dish brings together the best of both worlds with layers of beefy Bolognese sauce, creamy bechamel sauce, and melted cheese. It’s also versatile since you can switch up ingredients based on your preference or what’s available in your pantry.


When preparing macaroni pasticciati at home, you will need the following ingredients:

  • 1 pound elbow macaroni
  • 1 pound ground beef mince
  • 24 ounces canned tomato sauce
  • 4 cups bechamel sauce
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese
  • 1 large onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon oregano

Preparing the Macaroni

The first step when making macaroni pasticciati is to cook the pasta. Ensure that you follow these tips for best results:

Boiling Macaroni: The Dos and Don’ts

  • Use a large pot: This ensures the pasta has enough space to move around as it boils, preventing clumping.
  • Add salt to the water: Salt adds flavor to the pasta.
  • Stir occasionally: Stirring prevents sticking.
  • Check for doneness often: Overcooked pasta can become mushy.

How to Drain Macaroni Correctly

Once the macaroni is cooked, drain off excess water. Do not rinse under cold running water. Rinsing removes the outer layer of starch, which helps the sauce adhere to the pasta. Instead, drizzle some olive oil over the pasta, stir it in and set it aside.

How to Cool the Macaroni before Baking

Macaroni pasticciati is baked in a hot oven for up to 25 minutes, so you want to ensure that your macaroni isn’t hot when you begin layering it. To cool them, spread out the cooked macaroni in an even layer on baking trays and place them in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

Preparing the Meat

The meat sauce is the foundation of macaroni pasticciati’s rich flavor; thus, you should prepare it correctly. Here is how you do it:

How to Choose the Right Type of Beef Mince

When preparing this dish, use lean ground beef mince with a fat content of between 10 and 15%. Also, avoid added flavors like garlic or onion in the beef mince.

How to Cook Beef Mince Properly

To cook the beef mince, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and garlic and sauté until fragrant. Add the beef mince to the skillet and cook until brown and crumbly. Drain any excess grease from the pan.

How to Add Tomato Sauce While Cooking for an Authentic Flavor?

Add tomato sauce to cooked meat and let it simmer for at least 20 minutes to allow the flavors to meld together. Once done, add salt, black pepper, and oregano to your taste preferences.

Preparing the Cheese Mix

To give your macaroni pasticciati dish that authentic Italian taste, you will need cheese mixtures that are unique to this dish.

What Cheese to Use for Making Pasticciati?

For best results, use a combination of Parmesan and Mozzarella cheese for your macaroni pasticciati dish.

Mixing Parmesan and Mozzarella: Ratio and Quantity

Mix the grated Parmesan cheese with shredded Mozzarella cheese in a bowl or food processor. Use a ratio of about 1:2 (Parmesan: Mozzarella). The mozzarella will melt to create strings of cheese while baking, while Parmesan adds its nuttiness.

Adding Bechamel Sauce

Whisk together your bechamel sauce is thick and creamy. The bechamel will make your macaroni pasticciati dish extra rich, velvety, and decadent.

Layering and Baking

The final step in making macaroni pasticciati is layering and baking.

How to Layer the Macaroni, Meat Sauce, and Cheese Mix Together?

In a baking casserole dish, first, start with a layer of macaroni, then add meat sauce evenly all over. Continue alternating layers of macaroni, meat sauce, and cheese toppings until all the ingredients are used up. The topmost layer should be cheese mix.

Sprinkling Breadcrumbs for a Crispy Topping

Sprinkle breadcrumbs on the top layer of cheese to add texture and a crispy texture when the macaroni pasticciati bakes.

Temperature, Time, and Techniques for Baking

Cover the casserole with foil and bake at 180C (350F) for 20 minutes. Remove the foil after that time and bake for another 10-15 minutes.

Variations of Macaroni Pasticciati

Adding spinach or other greens can make macaroni pasticciati healthier and appealing to vegetarians or anyone looking for alternative sources of protein. You can add chopped mushrooms to create an earthier tone with their umami flavors.

You could also swap out meat ingredients if you don’t fancy beef; shredded turkey or chicken would work great too.

Presentation and Serving Tips

Once you’ve cooked your macaroni pasticciati at home, it’s essential to present it correctly. Here are some tips:

How to Decorate Your Pasticciati as per Occasion?

Decorate your pasta dish with green leaves of broccoli or basil, which not only add color but provide a fresh aroma that complements the flavor of macaroni pasticciati. You can also sprinkle some red pepper flakes on top.

Tips on Pairing with Wine or Drinks

Macaroni pasticciati dishes work well with light-bodied red wines like Chianti and Valpolicella, which complement its cheese and tomato flavors. Alternatively, sparkling water also works well.

Serving Suggestions with Sides like Salad, Bread, Etc.

For sides, you can serve a simple salad of arugula or leafy greens or roasted vegetables like zucchini and eggplants. Italian bread like Focaccia or Ciabatta is a great idea to mop up the rich bolognese sauce or scoop up melted cheese to complete the meal.

Benefits of Eating Macaroni Pasticciati

Macaroni pasticciati is an indulgent dish that will be perfect for special occasions. Here are some health benefits:

  • High Protein – taking a serving of pasta with beef contributes valuable protein as per-day requirement
  • Calcium- cheese toppings provide non-dairy sourceness of calcium
  • Fibre – Macaroni paste helps to meet daily fibre needs. Fiber is essential for gut health and passing stool regularly.


In conclusion, macaroni pasticciati is an excellent dish to try at home. With a few simple steps, you can enjoy this rich and flavorful pasta dish that features classic Italian ingredients like tomato sauce, Parmesan and Mozzarella Cheese. Remember to choose fresh ingredients, follow the steps precisely, and be patient with the preparation process. You can adjust to your taste as needed, and don’t forget to experiment with other ingredients too!

What is macaroni pasticciati?

Macaroni pasticciati is a classic Italian dish that consists of macaroni pasta covered in a rich and creamy sauce made with béchamel and tomato sauce. It is typically served as a starter, but can also be enjoyed as a main course.

What ingredients do I need to make macaroni pasticciati?

To make macaroni pasticciati, you will need macaroni pasta, minced beef, tomato puree, onion, garlic, olive oil, Parmesan cheese, mozzarella cheese, butter, flour, milk, salt, and pepper.

How do I prepare the dish?

Start by boiling the pasta in salted water until al dente. Next, brown the beef in a large pan with onion and garlic. Add the tomato puree and cook for a few minutes. To make the béchamel sauce, melt butter in a separate pan and stir in flour until smooth. Gradually add milk while stirring constantly until the mixture thickens. Then add salt and pepper to taste. Mix the cooked pasta with the meat sauce and layer it in an oven-safe dish with the béchamel sauce and shredded cheese. Bake in a preheated oven at 375°F for about 30 minutes.

What can I serve with macaroni pasticciati?

Macaroni pasticciati can be served on its own as a standalone dish or it can be paired with sides such as garlic bread or a simple salad. It’s also commonly served as an appetizer before an Italian dinner party or paired with red wine for a perfect night in.

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