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Pizza Casserole

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Pizza Casserole is a fun and flavorful dish that combines the best of both worlds: pizza and pasta. This hearty casserole is packed with ground meat, bow tie pasta, pepperoni, and a blend of Italian cheeses, making it a perfect meal for any occasion. You can also customize it with your favorite pizza toppings to make it even more special. Let’s dive into the recipe!

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Ingredients

Main Ingredients:

  • 1 lb ground meat (beef, turkey, or chicken)
  • 1 (16 oz) box bow tie pasta
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon oregano
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 ounces sliced pepperoni
  • 1 (26 oz) jar pasta sauce
  • 1 (10 oz) can diced Italian-style tomatoes
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 (8 oz) package shredded Italian cheese blend
  • Optional toppings: black olives, sausage, onions, green peppers, mushrooms, etc.

Instructions

Step 1: Prepare the Pasta

  1. Cook the Pasta:
    • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the bow tie pasta and cook according to the package instructions until al dente. Drain and set aside.

Step 2: Cook the Ground Meat

  1. Brown the Meat:
    • In a large skillet, cook the ground meat over medium-high heat until browned and fully cooked. Drain any excess fat.
  2. Season the Meat:
    • Add ½ teaspoon of salt, ½ teaspoon of oregano, and ½ teaspoon of garlic powder to the cooked meat. Stir to combine.

Step 3: Assemble the Casserole

  1. Preheat the Oven:
    • Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C).
  2. Combine Ingredients:
    • In a large mixing bowl, combine the cooked pasta, cooked ground meat, pasta sauce, diced tomatoes, and any optional toppings you desire. Mix well to ensure everything is evenly distributed.
  3. Layer the Casserole:
    • In a 9×13 inch baking dish, spread half of the pasta mixture. Sprinkle half of the grated Parmesan cheese and half of the shredded Italian cheese blend over the top. Layer half of the sliced pepperoni over the cheese.
    • Repeat with the remaining pasta mixture, Parmesan cheese, shredded Italian cheese blend, and pepperoni slices.

Step 4: Bake the Casserole

  1. Bake:
    • Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil and bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for an additional 10 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and bubbly.

Step 5: Serve

  1. Serve Hot:
    • Remove the casserole from the oven and let it cool for a few minutes before serving. Enjoy your Pizza Casserole hot, garnished with fresh basil or parsley if desired.

Cook Notes and Variations

Cook Notes:

  • Meat: You can use any ground meat of your choice, such as beef, turkey, or chicken. For a vegetarian option, substitute the meat with plant-based crumbles or extra vegetables.
  • Cheese: Feel free to use your favorite cheese blend. Mozzarella, provolone, and fontina are excellent choices for this casserole.

Variations:

  • Extra Veggies:
    • Add vegetables like bell peppers, mushrooms, or spinach to the pasta mixture for added nutrition and flavor.
  • Spicy:
    • Add red pepper flakes or sliced jalapeños for a spicy kick.
  • Different Pasta:
    • Substitute the bow tie pasta with your favorite pasta shape, such as penne, rotini, or rigatoni.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. Can I make this casserole ahead of time?

Yes, you can prepare the casserole up to the point of baking, cover it tightly with aluminum foil, and refrigerate it for up to 24 hours. When ready to bake, allow it to come to room temperature and then bake as directed.

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2. How do I store leftovers?

Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Reheat in the oven or microwave before serving.

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3. Can I freeze this casserole?

Yes, you can freeze the assembled casserole before baking. Cover it tightly with plastic wrap and aluminum foil, and freeze for up to 2 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight before baking.

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4. What can I serve with this Pizza Casserole?

Serve this casserole with a fresh green salad, garlic bread, or steamed vegetables for a complete meal.

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5. Can I use homemade pasta sauce?

Absolutely! Homemade pasta sauce will add an extra layer of flavor to this dish. Use your favorite recipe or store-bought sauce for convenience.

The Ultimate Comfort Food

Pizza Casserole is the ultimate comfort food that combines the delicious flavors of pizza with the heartiness of pasta. It’s a crowd-pleaser that’s perfect for family dinners, potlucks, or any gathering. Customize it with your favorite toppings to make it your own.

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Tips for Success

  1. Even Cooking: Ensure the pasta is cooked al dente to avoid mushy texture after baking.
  2. Proper Seasoning: Season the meat and pasta mixture well for the best flavor.
  3. Layering: Layer the ingredients evenly to ensure every bite is filled with deliciousness.

Pizza Casserole is a delicious and easy-to-make dish that’s perfect for any occasion. With its flavorful sauce, tender pasta, and melty cheese, this recipe is sure to become a family favorite. Try this recipe for your next meal and enjoy a comforting and satisfying dish. Happy cooking!