Mostaccioli vs. Penne: Exploring the differences
The world of pasta is incredibly diverse, with numerous varieties that can sometimes be confusing to differentiate. Two types of pasta that often cause confusion are mostaccioli and penne. While they may look similar, there are significant differences between them. In this article, we will look at the characteristics that set mostaccioli and penne apart.
What is penne?
Penne is a popular type of pasta known for its tubular shape. The ends of penne are cut diagonally and the surface has horizontal ridges. The shape of penne was inspired by a quill, and the word “penne” translates to “pen” in Italian, which is fitting given its shape.
Penne has a fascinating history. In 1865, Italian pasta maker Giovanni Battista Cappuro received a patent for a machine that could cut fresh pasta dough into the distinctive penne shape we know today. Before this invention, pasta was typically cut with scissors, resulting in uneven and rough edges.
Penne comes in two main varieties: penne rigate, which has ridges on the surface, and penne lisce, which is smooth. There is also a larger version called pennoni, which is very similar to regular penne.
Traditionally, penne is made with durum wheat flour, which is known for its high protein and gluten content. However, you can also find penne made with whole wheat flour or even colored varieties in supermarkets.
What is mostaccioli?
Mostaccioli, also known as penne lisce, is essentially the smooth variety of regular penne pasta. Like penne, mostaccioli have a tubular shape with diagonally cut ends.
Compare mostaccioli and penne
While mostaccioli is a type of penne pasta, there are distinct differences between the two. Let’s explore some of the key aspects that set them apart.
Penne is said to have originated in Liguria, a region in northwestern Italy, and eventually gained popularity throughout the Italian peninsula. Mostaccioli, on the other hand, are believed to have originated in Campania, a region in southern Italy.
Shape and size
The shape of penne rigate and mostaccioli is essentially the same, with the only difference being the presence of ridges on penne rigate. Generally, penne comes in two sizes: regular penne, which is typically 2 inches long, and mezze penne, which is about 1 inch long. Some U.S. pasta brands may produce slightly larger mezze penne than regular penne.
Penne is one of the most popular types of pasta in the world, along with spaghetti, fettuccini, macaroni, linguine, and lasagna, among others. Within the penne category, penne rigate, with its ridged surface, tends to be more popular than smooth penne lisce. The textured surface of penne rigate allows it to pair well with a variety of sauces, while penne lisce is better suited for lighter sauces.
Both penne and mostaccioli require similar cooking times. They typically take about 10-14 minutes to cook, depending on the variety. It is recommended to cook them al dente, which means firm to the bite.
Penne and mostaccioli, along with other varieties such as bucatini, manicotti, pipe rigate, and rigatoni, belong to the tube pasta category. Tube-shaped pasta is great for holding sauces, making it ideal for pasta salads, casseroles and dishes with chunky sauces.
Penne rigate, because of its strength, works well with chunky sauces, meats and vegetables. It is also often used in salads and baked casseroles. Mostaccioli, on the other hand, with its smooth surface, is best with lighter sauces such as fragrant olive oil or fine tomato sauce. Mostaccioli is often baked in casseroles known as “pasta al forno” and pairs well with sausage, ground beef and various cheeses.
Substitute Mostaccioli for Penne
Since mostaccioli is essentially smooth penne, it can be used as a substitute in almost any recipe that calls for penne. However, it’s important to note that the ribs on penne can hold more sauce than smooth mostaccioli. So while mostaccioli can be a great alternative, it may result in a slightly different texture and sauce distribution in the dish.
In summary, while mostaccioli is a type of penne pasta, there are notable differences between the two. Penne is ribbed and comes in both ribbed and smooth varieties, while mostaccioli is smooth. They differ in origin, popularity, and best sauces. However, both types of pasta are versatile and can be used interchangeably in many recipes.
Whether you choose penne or mostaccioli, both types of pasta offer delicious options for your next pasta dish. Experiment with different sauces, ingredients and cooking techniques to enhance your culinary experience with these versatile, tube-shaped pastas.
What is the main difference between mostaccioli and penne?
The main difference between mostaccioli and penne is that penne has ridges on its surface while mostaccioli is smooth. Mostaccioli are essentially a type of penne pasta.
Can mostaccioli be used as a substitute for penne in recipes?
Yes, mostaccioli can be used as a substitute for penne in most recipes. However, it’s important to note that the ribs on penne can hold more sauce than smooth mostaccioli, so the texture and sauce distribution in the dish may be slightly different.
Which type of pasta is more popular, penne or mostaccioli?
Penne is generally more popular worldwide, especially the jagged penne rigate. Mostaccioli, a smooth variety of penne, is less well known, but is still widely used in certain regions and dishes.
What sauces go best with penne and mostaccioli?
Penne rigate, with its ribs, goes well with thick sauces, meats and vegetables. It is often used in dishes with thicker or heartier sauces. Mostaccioli, on the other hand, is better with lighter sauces such as olive oil or fine tomato sauce. It is often baked in casseroles and pairs well with sausage, ground beef, and various cheeses.
How long does it take to cook penne and mostaccioli?
Both penne and mostaccioli require similar cooking times. They usually take about 10-14 minutes to cook, depending on the type. It is recommended to cook them al dente, which means firm to the bite.
Are there other types of pasta similar to penne and mostaccioli?
Yes, there are other types of tubular pasta similar to penne and mostaccioli, such as rigatoni, pipe rigate, bucatini and manicotti. These pasta shapes are also great for holding sauces and can be used interchangeably in many recipes.