I guess yesterday was a good/convenient day for me to cook. Those don’t come around very often, being a university student. Essays seem to take over (the current topic of research is Music in Nazi Germany which is actually very fascinating). So, yesterday, in addition to the Rosemary Garlic Fries I made a pizza casserole. I love casseroles for many reasons: they’re fairly easy, they’re nutritious (or at least more so than the standard diet of a university student), they’re tasty, and you make one and you can eat it for days which saves time in the long run.
I’ve seen this recipe several times and always thought that I’d like to try it, but I didn’t have a lot of the stuff on hand, so I made do with what I had. I’m going to share with you my version of this casserole. That’s the one of the other great things about a casserole is that you can swap stuff out, leave stuff out, add stuff in, whatever, it doesn’t really matter, all you need is a base.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. (I always wondered why this is at the beginning of recipes and I’ve finally figured it out: I think it’s for people who have bad ovens (like me… apartment) that take 20 minutes to reach temperature, and when they do they’re really not at the right temperature at all.)
Bring a large pot of water to boil, season liberally with salt (I never used to do this and now that I’ve started to it makes all the difference!) Cook 1 lb pasta for 6-7 minutes. I took a picture of this too, but really, everyone knows what a pot of boiling water looks like.
Meanwhile, brown your meats in a large skillet.
Once your meat is brown, transfer to a plate, and in the same pan, brown vegetables. As you can see, mine are fairly big, because that gives texture to the final casserole and I didn’t brown them too much because (a) I was hungry and impatient, and (b) they still have crunch, which I like.
Once they’re brown, put them and your meat in the pot with your drained pasta and pizza sauce. I added a little garlic powder too, because garlic is great. (Dang it, I should have used the Dutch Oven…)
Pour into two 8×8 baking dishes and top the one you’re going to bake now with cheddar cheese. By doing this, you can freeze one easily and you don’t have to try and cram a 3 quart casserole into your fridge. Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes until the cheese is melty and brownish.
A couple of notes/tips:
Something like this has the potential to bubble over and make a mess in your oven, to prevent that, and to avoid hours of oven-cleaning, put the casserole on a baking sheet and then put it in the oven.
When going to bake the one you froze, you should take it out of the freezer a few hours before baking it so that it doesn’t take forever in the oven and dry out your pasta.
1 lb dried pasta (I used penne cause it’s my favourite, rotini, rigatoni etc. would be just fine)
1 lb extra lean ground beef
2 Italian sausages
1 bell pepper (green, red, yellow, or orange, whatever you like)
2 small cans pizza sauce
Preheat oven to 350.
Bring a large pot of water to boil, season liberally with salt. Cook pasta to just before al dente 8-9 minutes. Strain, put back in pot, but take off heat
Meanwhile, in a large skillet brown meat. Once brown transfer to plate
In the same skillet, soften vegetables (3-4 minutes)
Add vegetables and meat to pasta. Stir in pizza sauce.
Transfer into two 8×8 casserole dishes.
To bake one casserole: sprinkle shredded cheese over top and bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes or until melty and starting to brown.
The whole recipe will serve around 6.