I have always been a fan of combining two classic dishes to create something extraordinary.
And when it comes to comfort food, there’s nothing quite like the delectable marriage of pizza and pasta.
That’s why I’m thrilled to share with you my recipe for Pizza Pasta Bake, a mouthwatering delight that will satisfy your cravings for both Italian favorites in one incredible dish.
Imagine tender pasta enveloped in rich pizza sauce, topped with melted mozzarella cheese, savory pepperoni slices, and a medley of colorful bell peppers and onions.
The aromas wafting from the oven as it bakes will tantalize your senses, making your mouth water in anticipation.
Trust me, the moment you take your first bite of this cheesy, flavorful concoction, you’ll be hooked.
Now, let’s get ready to embark on a culinary adventure that will leave your taste buds singing and your family and friends begging for seconds.
So, grab your apron, preheat the oven, and let’s get cooking!
Key Ingredients for the Ultimate Pizza Pasta Bake
Let’s start by gathering all the wonderful ingredients that will bring this pizza pasta bake to life. Here’s what you’ll need:
I need pasta as the foundation for my dish. I find that penne or rigatoni works beautifully in absorbing all the flavors of the sauce and toppings.
Their tubular shape allows them to hold the sauce and cheese wonderfully, resulting in a satisfying bite every time.
Now, let’s talk about the star of the show—the pizza sauce! It’s what gives my pizza pasta bake that unmistakable pizza flavor.
For convenience, you can use store-bought pizza sauce, which is readily available in most supermarkets.
However, if you’re feeling adventurous, why not try making your own homemade pizza sauce? It’s surprisingly easy and incredibly rewarding.
The combination of tangy tomatoes, aromatic herbs, and a hint of garlic will take your dish to a whole new level of deliciousness.
Ah, the glorious stretchy cheese that melts to perfection—mozzarella! This cheese is an essential component of my pizza pasta bake.
It creates that irresistible cheesy blanket on top that will make you want to dig in right away.
You can use shredded mozzarella or even fresh mozzarella, depending on your preference.
Either way, it’s all about that ooey-gooey goodness that will make each bite simply heavenly.
For all the meat lovers out there, pepperoni slices are a must-have for my pizza-inspired pasta bake.
These flavorful, thinly sliced cured sausages bring a delightful savory kick to the dish.
They add a hint of spiciness and a burst of umami that perfectly complements the other ingredients.
The combination of melted cheese, zesty sauce, and crispy pepperoni is truly a match made in culinary heaven.
Bell Peppers and Onion
Now let’s add a pop of color and some extra freshness to my pizza pasta bake.
I’ll be sautéing some vibrant bell peppers and onions to bring a delightful crunch and a burst of flavor to the dish.
The bell peppers add a touch of sweetness and a satisfying crunch, while the onions provide a subtle savory note.
Together, they create a harmonious balance that complements the other ingredients and adds a beautiful visual appeal.
To infuse my pizza pasta bake with the authentic flavors of Italy, I’ll be using a generous sprinkle of Italian seasoning.
This aromatic blend of herbs such as basil, oregano, thyme, and rosemary will transport you straight to an Italian trattoria.
It adds a delightful herbal aroma and a hint of earthiness that ties all the flavors together.
You can find pre-mixed Italian seasoning in the spice aisle of your local grocery store, or you can create your own blend using your favorite herbs.
Lastly, I’ll be using some olive oil to bring everything together.
Olive oil adds a luscious richness to the dish and helps to sauté my bell peppers and onions to perfection.
It also enhances the flavors of the other ingredients, giving my pizza pasta bake that extra touch of indulgence.
Choose a good quality extra virgin olive oil for the best results, as it brings a distinct fruity and peppery flavor to the dish.
Pizza Pasta Bake (Cheesy Goodness Unleashed)Course: Lifestyle, Recipes
8 ounces (225g) penne pasta
2 cups pizza sauce
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup sliced pepperoni
1/2 cup sliced bell peppers
1/2 cup sliced onions
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
2 tablespoons olive oil
- Preheat your oven to 375°F (190°C). Grease a baking dish with olive oil or non-stick spray.
- Cook the penne pasta according to package instructions until al dente. Drain and set aside.
- In a skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Add the sliced bell peppers and onions, and sauté until slightly tender and caramelized, about 5-7 minutes.
Remove from heat and set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the cooked pasta, pizza sauce, sautéed bell peppers, and onions. Stir until everything is well coated.
- Transfer the pasta mixture to the prepared baking dish and spread it out evenly.
- Sprinkle the shredded mozzarella cheese over the top, making sure to cover the entire dish. Arrange the sliced pepperoni on top of the cheese.
- Sprinkle the Italian seasoning evenly over the dish.
- Bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, or until the cheese is melted, bubbly, and slightly golden on top.
- Remove from the oven and let it cool for a few minutes before serving.
- Serve hot and enjoy the delightful combination of flavors!
Simple Steps for Making Pizza Pasta Bake
It’s time to dive into the preparation process. Let’s start cooking!
1. Cooking the Pasta
The first step to creating a perfect pizza pasta bake is cooking the pasta al dente. Fill a large pot with water, add a pinch of salt, and bring it to a rolling boil.
Once the water is boiling, carefully add the pasta and give it a gentle stir to prevent sticking.
Cook the pasta according to the package instructions, but make sure to shave off a minute or two from the recommended cooking time since the pasta will continue to cook in the oven.
I want it to be just shy of fully cooked to ensure it doesn’t become mushy during baking.
When the pasta is cooked to your desired texture, drain it in a colander and give it a quick rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process.
Set it aside while we move on to the next step.
2. Preparing the Pizza Sauce
Now, let’s talk about the soul of my pizza pasta bake—the delicious pizza sauce!
You have two options here: you can either use store-bought pizza sauce for convenience, or you can make your own homemade sauce.
If you decide to make your own sauce, here’s a simple recipe to follow:
- Add a touch of olive oil to a saucepan and heat it over medium heat.
- Add finely chopped garlic and sauté for a minute until fragrant.
- Pour in a can of crushed tomatoes and stir in a pinch of salt, a sprinkle of dried basil, oregano, and a touch of sugar to balance the acidity.
- Bring the sauce to a gentle simmer and let it cook for about 15-20 minutes, allowing the flavors to meld together and the sauce to thicken slightly.
- Taste and adjust the seasonings. I like to add a dash of red pepper flakes for a hint of spiciness.
Whether you choose to make your own sauce or use store-bought, make sure to have about 2 cups of pizza sauce ready for my pizza pasta bake adventure.
3. Sautéing the Vegetables
Time to add some color and crunch to my dish! I’ll be sautéing bell peppers and onions to bring a delightful freshness to every bite.
Start by slicing a mix of colorful bell peppers—I love using red, green, and yellow—for that vibrant visual appeal. Thinly slice a medium-sized onion as well.
Heat a drizzle of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat.
Add the sliced bell peppers and onions, and sauté them until they turn slightly tender and develop a beautiful caramelized color.
This will take about 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally. The aroma that fills the kitchen as the peppers and onions cook is absolutely amazing!
It’s a real testament to the deliciousness that awaits in my pizza pasta bake.
4. Mixing the Pasta, Sauce, and Vegetables
Now comes the fun part—mixing all the components together!
Take a large mixing bowl and combine the cooked pasta, pizza sauce, and sautéed bell peppers and onions.
Give it a good stir until everything is evenly coated in that tangy, flavorful sauce.
5. Adding the Cheese and Pepperoni
Now, let’s take my pizza pasta bake to the next level of cheesiness and flavor. Sprinkle a generous amount of shredded mozzarella cheese over the pasta mixture.
I’m talking about a blanket of cheese that will melt and create that irresistible stretchy goodness I love.
But we’re not done yet! It’s time to add a layer of pepperoni slices.
I like to arrange them evenly across the top, making sure each bite has a piece of that savory, slightly crispy goodness.
6. Baking the Dish
We’re almost there! Preheat your oven to 375°F (190°C) and prepare a baking dish by greasing it lightly with olive oil or non-stick spray.
Carefully transfer the pasta mixture with all its cheesy and pepperoni glory into the prepared baking dish.
Spread it out evenly to ensure each serving has a perfect combination of flavors.
Now, pop the dish into the preheated oven and let it bake for about 20-25 minutes, or until the cheese is melted, bubbly, and slightly golden on top.
The smell that will fill your kitchen during this time is absolutely heavenly—I promise, it’s worth the wait!
Once the pizza pasta bake is beautifully baked, remove it from the oven and let it cool for a few minutes. This allows the flavors to set and serve them effortlessly.
Delicious Ways to Serve Pizza Pasta Bake
Your pizza pasta bake is now hot out of the oven and ready to be enjoyed. But before we dig in, let me share some tips for serving this delightful dish:
Tips for Serving Pizza Pasta Bake
Let it Rest: After removing the pizza pasta bake from the oven, give it a few minutes to rest before serving.
This allows the flavors to meld together and makes it easier to portion out.
Portion Control: When serving, use a spatula or a serving spoon to scoop out individual portions.
The pasta, sauce, cheese, and toppings come together beautifully, so make sure each plate gets a bit of everything.
Garnish with Fresh Basil: For a touch of freshness and a burst of flavor, garnish your pizza pasta bake with some torn or thinly sliced fresh basil leaves.
The aromatic herb adds a lovely herbal note that perfectly complements the savory components of the dish.
Sprinkle with Grated Parmesan: If you’re a cheese lover like me, take it to the next level by offering grated Parmesan cheese as an optional topping.
Let each person sprinkle some over their serving, adding an extra layer of richness and umami.
Pizza pasta bake is a hearty and satisfying dish on its own, but you can elevate the meal even further by pairing it with some delicious accompaniments.
Here are a few options:
Garlic Bread: Serve with some warm garlic bread on the side.
The crispy exterior and buttery, garlic-infused interior of the bread complement the flavors of the pizza pasta bake beautifully.
It’s perfect for mopping up any leftover sauce.
Fresh Salad: Balance out the richness of the Pasta Bake with a refreshing salad.
A simple mixed green salad with a tangy vinaigrette or a Caprese salad with juicy tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, and basil is an excellent choice.
The crispness and brightness of the salad will provide a refreshing contrast to the comforting pasta dish.
Bruschetta: Add a touch of Mediterranean flair to your meal by serving some bruschetta as an appetizer.
Toasted baguette slices topped with diced tomatoes, fresh basil, garlic, and a drizzle of olive oil create a perfect combination of flavors that pairs wonderfully with the pizza pasta bake.
Feel free to mix and match these pairing options to suit your taste and preferences. The goal is to create a well-rounded meal that satisfies all your cravings.
Now that you have some serving suggestions in mind, it’s time to gather around the table and indulge in the irresistible combination of pizza and pasta.
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Can I use tomato paste instead of tomato sauce?
If you have a can of tomato paste in your pantry, you are in luck—this is the best substitution for tomato sauce. All you need is the tomato paste and water.
Mix together 1 part tomato paste and 1 part water until well blended. Then, season your “sauce” to taste.
Can I use crushed tomatoes instead of tomato sauce?
Blend a can of crushed tomatoes. Then, use it in place of the tomato sauce in your recipe.
Crushed tomatoes have a slightly thicker consistency than tomato sauce, but will still work well.
Can you prepare pasta bake in advance?
Most baked pasta dishes you can make ahead, and bake before serving.
Generally, you just prepare everything up to the point where it would go in the oven, then cover and refrigerate.