Pizza Pasta Casserole

Everything you love about pizza in casserole form. This Pizza Pasta Casserole is the definition of a family-friendly meal!

A spoon digs in to the center of the Pizza Pasta in a white casserole dish.

When times get tough, the tough eat pasta! But, seriously folks, is there anything more comforting than a great big casserole dish full of cheesy pasta in a bubbling meat sauce? An easy pasta casserole like this Pizza Pasta Casserole or my Lazy Lasagna Casserole happens at least once a month here. They are easy to make, substantial enough to feed my big group, and everyone loves them.

Just toss a simple green salad and slice some bread and dinner is served.

A serving of Pizza Pasta Casserole on a white plate with green salad and a slice of bread.

Ingredients

I like to use a substantial dry pasta for this Pizza Pasta Casserole, like the mezze rigatoni you see in this post. Any short pasta you like will work – regular rigatoni, fusilli, ziti, penne, or even bow tie pasta.

The necessary ingredients for making Pizza Pasta Casserole.
  • short, dry pasta of your choice (I love mezze rigatoni which is a smaller version of traditional rigatoni)
  • ground beef
  • diced bell pepper, chopped (any color or combination or colors)
  • diced yellow onion
  • sliced mushrooms
  • Italian seasoning
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • a jar of your favorite marinara sauce
  • sliced black olives
  • sliced pepperoni (sub turkey pepperoni to reduce fat and calories)
  • shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
  • grated Parmesan or pecorino romano cheese
The finished pasta dish on a white plate with green salad and a slice of bread.

The Difference Between Bell Peppers

If your kiddos or anyone else in the house objects to bell peppers I suggest going with yellow, orange, or red peppers. In addition to adding really pretty color and contrast to recipes, they are are sweeter and far milder in flavor than green bell peppers.

Suprisingly, all the colors in the bell pepper spectrum come from the same plant. When harvested early, you get the most strongly flavored green bell peppers. When allowed to ripen fully, the color turns to that bright, beautiful red. Yellow and orange fall somewhere in between. The longer the fruit is allowed to ripen, the milder and sweeter it becomes and the more nutritional value it gains. Red bell peppers contain twice the amount of vitamin C and nine times the amount of beta-carotene as the younger green variety! Check out The Science Explorer for more bell pepper nutrition information.

Instructions

  • Cook your pasta about 2 minutes shy of the package directions. While it is cooking, you can get started on the meat sauce.
Ground beef is cooked in a skillet with bell peppers and onions.
  • Cook ground beef until browned and crumbled. Drain off the excess grease and return the skillet to the heat.
  • Add diced onion and bell pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender.
Mushrooms and seasonings are added to the ground beef mixture in the skillet.
  • Add garlic and mushrooms and cook and stir for another three or four minutes, to soften the mushrooms.
  • Season with Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper.
Marinara sauce is added to the skillet and combined with the ground beef mixture.
  • Add the marinara sauce and water and stir well to combine.
  • Remove from the heat.

Assemble the Pizza Pasta Casserole

Cooked rigatoni is layered with ground beef mixture, pepperoni, and olives in a casserole dish.
  • Transfer half of the cooked pasta to the prepared baking dish.
  • Spoon half of the meat mixture evenly over the top. Scatter half the the pepperoni and olives over the sauce.
A final layer of cheese is added and then the layers are repeated.
  • Sprinkle with half of the mozzarella and Parmesan or Pecorino Romano.
  • Repeat the layers ending with a final layer of the cheeses.
The Pizza Pasta Casserole after it is baked in a white casserole dish.
  • Bake, uncovered, for 30 minutes or until bubbly and heated through.

Ligthen it Up

  • Use 93% lean ground beef and part-skim mozzarella.
  • Opt for turkey pepperoni instead of the traditional variety to save on both fat and calories.
  • Reduce the sodium substantially by going with a reduced sodium marinara sauce like Silver Palate Reduced Sodium Marinara. I love this sauce and it’s easy to find major grocery store chains.
A spoon scoops up some Pizza Pasta from the casserole dish.

Make Ahead and Freezer Instructions

Assemble the Pizza Pasta Casserole as directed and then cover the baking dish tightly with heavy duty foil, crimping the edges tightly, and transfer the unbaked casserole to the refrigerator. Bake the casserole within 24 hours.

For longer storage, transfer your foil covered freezer safe casserole dish to the freezer for up to 3 months. I recommend picking up some disposable foil pans for freezing recipes so you don’t have to be without your baking dish for a long period of time.

To serve, thaw the frozen casserole in the refrigerator overnight and remove it from the refrigerator about 30 minutes before baking to take the chill off. Bake the casserole as directed, increasing the time as necessary to heat it through if it is still chilly when going in the oven.

A close up of the finished pasta dish on a white plate.
A spoon digs in to the center of the Pizza Pasta in a white casserole dish.
Print

Pizza Pasta Casserole

Everything you love about pizza in casserole form. This Pizza Pasta Casserole is the definition of a family-friendly meal!

Course Main Course, Pasta

Cuisine Italian

Servings 6

Calories 594kcal

  • 12 ounces mezze rigatoni or other short pasta of your choice
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 cup diced bell pepper chopped (any color or combination or colors)
  • 1/2 cup diced yellow onion
  • 8 ounces mushrooms sliced
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt or to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 25 ounces marinara (reduced sodium or regular)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2.25 ounce can sliced black olives drained
  • 1/2 cup sliced pepperoni sliced in half (can use turkey pepperoni to reduce fat and calories)
  • 2 cups shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese (8 ounces)
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano cheese
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Coat the bottom of a 13- x 9-inch baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.

  • Boil the pasta 2 minutes shy of the package directions, about 11 minutes. Drain and set aside.

  • Meanwhile, place a skillet over MEDIUM heat. Add the ground beef and cook, breaking it up with a spoon, until browned and crumbled. Drain the excess grease and return the skillet to the heat. Add the onion and bell pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until tender about 3 or 4 minutes. Add the garlic and mushrooms and cook and stir for another three or four minutes, to soften the mushrooms. Season with Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper. Add the marinara and water and stir well to combine. Remove from the heat.

  • Transfer half of the cooked pasta to the prepared baking dish. Spoon half of the meat mixture evenly over the top. Scatter half the the pepperoni and olives over the sauce and sprinkle with half of the mozzarella and Parmesan (or Pecorino Romano). Repeat the layers ending with a final layer of the cheeses.

  • Bake, uncovered, for 30 minutes or until bubbly and heated through.

Calories: 594kcal | Carbohydrates: 49g | Protein: 42g | Fat: 25g | Saturated Fat: 12g | Cholesterol: 98mg | Sodium: 971mg | Potassium: 640mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 1143IU | Vitamin C: 33mg | Calcium: 515mg | Iron: 3mg
Pizza Pasta Casserole in a white baking dish with text overlay.

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