Friday, March 28, 2014

Pizza Casserole

We eat a lot of pizza at our house, in many forms; frozen, homemade, pannini style.  We might be caught throwing a few slices of pepperoni on a sandwich.  We like pizza.

This is our FAVORITE casserole, because it's a pizza casserole.  Duh.  It's one of those recipes you can mess with a little and it will still turn out; add some veggies, use different kinds of pasta, mix up what cheeses you use, anything to make it what YOU are craving.  The next time I make it I plan to switch out the ground meat with diced cooked chicken, use Alfredo sauce rather than pizza sauce, and substitute a mix of ricotta and Parmesan for the tomato paste and sauce.  It probably won't be any good.

Since this makes a big pan, we save a few pieces for lunch the next day, and the rest goes in the freezer.  If it makes it that far.

Pizza Casserole (printable version)
1 pound ground beef, turkey, or ground pork, any combination equaling 1 lb ground meat
1 medium white or yellow onion, finely chopped, or 2 tsp. dried onion flakes
Salt and pepper
1 box of pasta (12-16 oz.) (I use Farfalle, Rotelle, or Penne Rigate)
One 15 oz. can pizza sauce
One 4 oz. can tomato paste
One 24 oz. can tomato sauce
1 tsp. dried oregano
2 cups shredded Mozzarella cheese
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
½ cup shredded Parmesan cheese
One 7 oz. pkg pepperoni slices (7 oz. pkg), regular or turkey pepperoni
Optional fillings:  sliced mushrooms, sliced black olives, diced green peppers 

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Brown the ground meat with a sprinkling of salt and pepper over medium heat.  Add the 
chopped onion and cook until soft, or add dried onion flakes if using those.  If you are adding
any of the “optional” fillings, add them now.  While this mixture is cooking, boil your pasta of 
choice for 10 minutes until almost al dente.  Drain the pasta.  Return the pasta pot to the stove
and add the browned meat to it. Pour in the pizza sauce, tomato paste, tomato sauce, and dried
oregano.  Stir to combine.  Add the drained pasta and mix together well.

Spray a 9 x 13 pan with cooking spray, especially around the upper edges.  Layer half of the
meat/pasta mixture in the bottom of the pan.  Top with a layer of half of the pepperoni, then 

top with half of the mozzarella cheese and half of the cheddar cheese.  Repeat with another 
layer of meat/pasta, pepperoni, and cheeses, then top it all off with the Parmesan cheese.

Bake for 30-40 minutes or until cheese is melted and golden on top and the casserole is 
starting to bubble.  Allow to cool about 10 minutes before cutting.

Serve with warm crusty garlic bread and turmeric pickles.

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