Pizza pasta night is a favorite in many households, and this Loaded Pizza Pasta Bake takes the concept to a whole new level. Packed with flavorful ingredients and gooey cheese, it’s a crowd-pleaser that keeps on giving with delicious leftovers for lunches. This recipe combines the best of both worlds – the comfort of pasta and the flavors of pizza, creating a hearty and satisfying meal for your family.
- 1 lb rotini pasta, cooked al dente according to package instructions
- 1 lb ground pork sausage
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 1 bell pepper, diced
- 8 oz mushrooms, sliced
- 1 cup pepperoni slices
- 1/2 cup black olives, sliced
- 2 jars pizza sauce (approximately 24 oz each)
- 3 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Fresh basil, chopped (for garnish, optional)
- Grated Parmesan cheese (for serving, optional)
- Preheat the Oven:
- Preheat your oven to 375°F (190°C). Grease a large baking dish (9×13 inches) with non-stick spray and set aside.
- Prepare the Pasta and Meat:
- Cook the rotini pasta al dente according to the package instructions. Drain and set aside.
- In a large skillet, cook the ground pork sausage over medium-high heat until browned and cooked through. Remove any excess fat.
- Sauté Vegetables:
- In the same skillet, using the remaining fat from the sausage, sauté the chopped onion, diced bell pepper, and sliced mushrooms until they are tender and slightly caramelized, about 5-6 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Combine Pasta and Sauce:
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the cooked rotini pasta, cooked sausage, sautéed vegetables, pepperoni slices, and black olives. Pour in the pizza sauce and mix well to coat all the ingredients evenly.
- Layer and Add Cheese:
- Transfer half of the pasta mixture into the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle half of the shredded mozzarella cheese over the pasta. Layer the remaining pasta mixture on top, followed by the rest of the mozzarella cheese.
- Bake to Perfection:
- Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil and bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes. Then, remove the foil and continue baking for an additional 10-15 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and bubbly, and the pasta bake is heated through.
- Serve and Enjoy:
- Remove the Loaded Pizza Pasta Bake from the oven and let it cool for a few minutes before serving. Garnish with chopped fresh basil if desired. Serve hot, and if you like, sprinkle grated Parmesan cheese on top for an extra burst of flavor.
- Leftover Tips:
- Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Reheat individual portions in the microwave for a quick and satisfying lunch. The flavors will continue to meld, making the leftovers even more delicious!
This Loaded Pizza Pasta Bake is not only budget-friendly but also a fantastic way to enjoy the classic flavors of pizza in a comforting pasta dish. Enjoy your hearty family dinner and the tasty lunches that follow!
Q1: Can I use a different type of pasta for this recipe? A1: Yes, you can definitely use a different type of pasta if you prefer. Penne, rigatoni, or even spaghetti broken into smaller pieces can work well in this recipe. Choose a pasta shape that you and your family enjoy.
Q2: Can I make this dish vegetarian? A2: Absolutely! You can omit the pork sausage and pepperoni to make it vegetarian. Add more vegetables like bell peppers, mushrooms, onions, and olives to enhance the flavor. You could also consider adding vegetarian sausage or tofu for protein.
Q3: Can I use homemade pizza sauce instead of store-bought? A3: Certainly! Homemade pizza sauce can add a personal touch to your dish. Feel free to use your favorite homemade pizza sauce recipe or any store-bought sauce you prefer. Just ensure it’s well-seasoned for the best flavor.
Q4: Can I freeze this pasta bake? A4: Yes, you can freeze the Loaded Pizza Pasta Bake for later. After assembling the dish but before baking, cover it tightly with plastic wrap and aluminum foil, then freeze. When you’re ready to enjoy it, let it thaw in the refrigerator overnight and bake it according to the original instructions. Freezing can slightly change the texture of pasta, so be aware of that.
Q5: What are some good side dishes to serve with Loaded Pizza Pasta Bake? A5: A simple side salad with mixed greens, cherry tomatoes, and a balsamic vinaigrette pairs wonderfully with this pasta bake. Additionally, garlic bread, breadsticks, or a warm baguette can be excellent choices to soak up the delicious sauce. A light dessert, such as a fruit salad or gelato, can round off the meal nicely.
Q6: How long will the leftovers last in the fridge? A6: Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days. Make sure to cool the leftovers completely before transferring them to the fridge. Reheat individual portions in the microwave or oven until heated through.
Enjoy your Loaded Pizza Pasta Bake, and if you have any more questions, feel free to ask!