Penne Pasta Pizza Bake

06aPenneBakedbfLORich came across this recipe from Angie McGowan on the Betty Crocker site, and thought it looked like a good thing to try.

We had some deli pepperoni, fresh mozzarella in the cheese drawer, and a fair bit of my Best! Doctored Pasta Sauce stashed away in the fridge, so I thought it’d be a good thing, and easy to toss together.

It was, and it made for a more than satisfying dinner, tho’ I should note that it also makes a lot.

05cPennePepperonibfLOTwo notes:
First: do yourself a favor, and ignore those pre-sliced packets of pepperoni in the lunch meat section of your grocer’s cold case. Check out the deli and pick up 1/4 to 1/2 pound of (freshly) sliced pepperoni from the nice deli clerk – who may even give you a piece to try before you buy. It is so very much better.
01bVeggiesbfLOSecond: I used the meatless version of my Best! Doctored Sauce, because that’s what I had sitting in the fridge, and because of the sausage and pepperoni being added later. You do what you like.

On to the casserole!

02dSausageVeggiesbfLOINGREDIENTS
•1 medium sweet onion, diced
•1/2 large red pepper, diced
•1/2 large green pepper, diced
•8 oz mushrooms, sliced
•Olive oil
•20 oz sweet Italian sausage
•1 (3.8 oz) can sliced ripe olives, drained
•1 lb penne, cooked and drained
•1 batch Best! Doctored Sauce
  (about 4 or 5 cups)
•3/4 lb sliced fresh mozzarella
•Shaved Parmesan
•12 slices deli pepperoni

Heat a tablespoon or two over medium-high heat in a large pot, then add the onion and peppers and sauté for five minutes.

03cPenneSauceVeggiesBasilbfLOAdd the sliced ‘shrooms, season with a bit of salt and pepper, and continue sautéeing until the ‘shrooms are nicely cooked and tender. Remove from the pan and set aside to drain.

Add the sausage to the pan and cook, breaking up the sausage into small bits, until well browned and cooked through. Drain well, then add the sliced black olives, toss with the cooked veggies, and set aside.

05bPenneCheesebfLOHeat your oven to 450°.

Cook the penne in boiling, salted water according to package directions, then drain, return to the pot and toss with the pasta sauce.

Add the sausage and veggie mixture, then the fresh basil and toss to combine.

Apply cooking spray to a 9×13 baking pan, then add the penne mixture.

07aPennePlatebfLOTop with the sliced fresh mozzarella, then the shaved Parmesan, and finally the thinly sliced pepperoni.

Bake, uncovered, for 15 or 20 minutes, until the cheese is nicely melted and everything heated through.

We had ours with Parmesan roasted asparagus and totally enjoyed it.

But.

SoupCrocksbfLONext time, I’ll add half the penne mixture to the baking pan, add a layer of cheeses and pepperoni, then top that with the rest of the penne mixture and more cheeses and pepperoni.

I am also thinking – for a totally cool and dinner party friendly presentation – that I will make individual penne pasta pizza casseroles in these French onion soup crocks.

Placed, hot on bubbling with a crisp disk of pepperoni perched on top, on a nice plate and served with some garlic bread, a nice salad, and a decent, bold red wine on the side, who could resist?

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