Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Pizza Pasta

I have been in the mood for casseroles lately, probably because the weather is slowly cooling off a bit (although we have still had days in the 80s in the last week!). This pasta casserole that I found from Lemons & Love looked really great, so I bought all our favorite pizza toppings and whipped this up. The husband was rather skeptical beforehand, but really, really liked this dish. He was rather impressed with how much pizza flavor the dish had. I brought my leftovers into work and picked out all the mushrooms (I tried to make half with, half without the shrooms, but some got into my side), and my boss ate all the mushrooms. He too, commented on how pizza-like the flavor was. This was a fun one to make that I'm sure I will be repeating, but not in the middle of the bike season: it isn't very good for you, as it has a lot of cheese! I'm excited to try this with some of our other favorite toppings.

Pizza Pasta
1/2 lb short pasta (I used whole wheat macaroni)
1 jar pasta sauce (I used about 3/4 jar of Ragu, since I needed to use an opened jar)
1 cup mozzerella cheese, grated
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
Your favorite pizza toppings:
I used - 1/2 lb mild Italian turkey sausage
1 green bell pepper, roughly chopped
1/2 pack mushrooms, sliced thin
about 20 or so sliced pepperoni, cut in half
1 Tbs fresh chopped oregano (or 1 tsp dried)
Preheat oven to 350. Cook pasta according to package directions, undercooking by about 2 minutes. Meanwhile, remove turkey sausage from casings and saute in skillet, breaking up into small pieces and cooking until no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Drain if needed. Add remaining veggies (bell pepper and mushrooms) and cook until just softened (I did these separately to keep the mushrooms from contaminating the good stuff, ha!). Add pepperoni and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add pasta sauce, oregano and cooked "toppings" to pasta and mix to combine well. Pour 1/2 the pasta mixture into a 13x9 casserole dish. If you are attempting a "1/2 & 1/2" style pizza, place toppings separately at this stage on 1/2 of the mixture, reserving one or two as markers for the top so that you know which side is which. Top with about 3/4 cup of mozzerella cheese, then top with the rest of the pasta mixture, then the rest of the mozzerella and parmesan. Bake uncovered for 15-20 minutes or until cheese is melted & bubbly. Allow to cool before serving. Makes about 6 servings.