This hearty main dish casserole is perfect for a pizza craving. It makes a fabulous everyday family meal, or take it along to a potluck dinner.
Fusilli bucati was used in the pictured casserole, but it would be excellent with a small penne or macaroni, or make it with rotini pasta.
There are a number of other possible add-ins or substitutions for this casserole, including cooked bacon for smoky flavor, Italian sausage instead of the ground beef (or a combination), jalapeno peppers, spinach and chopped canned or marinated artichoke hearts.
Add a simple tossed green salad and garlic bread for a perfect, satisfying dinner the whole family will love. This makes excellent leftovers, too. Just cover the baking dish with foil and heat in a 400° F oven for about 25 minutes, stirring about halfway through the cooking time.
Crock Pot Pizza Pasta Casserole
- 10 ounces fusilli or fusilli bucati pasta or similar, about 4 cups
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 8 ounces sliced mushrooms
- 1 pound lean ground beef, at least 85%
- 1 medium onion, red or yellow, chopped
- 1/2 cup red or green chopped bell pepper
- 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
- 1/2 teaspoon dried leaf basil or about 1 to 2 teaspoons fresh chopped basil
- 1/2 teaspoon dried leaf oregano
- 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- 1 jar (about 14 ounces) pizza sauce or about 2 cups of homemade pizza sauce
- 1 can (14.5 ounces) diced tomatoes
- 1 or 2 cans (about 2 1/4 ounces each) sliced ripe olives
- 4 to 6 ounces sliced pepperoni or mini pepperoni
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 12 to 16 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese or a pizza blend of cheeses, divided
- Heat the oven to 350 F.
- Lightly grease a 9-by-13-by-2-inch baking pan.
- Cook the pasta in boiling salted water following package directions; drain well and set aside.
- While the pasta is cooking, heat the olive oil in a large saute pan or skillet over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and saute until golden brown. Remove to a plate and set aside.
- Add the ground beef and onion to the skillet and cook, stirring, until the onion is translucent. Add the bell pepper and garlic and continue cooking, stirring, until the beef is no longer pink. If necessary, drain and discard excess grease at this point.
- To the beef add the basil, oregano, crushed red pepper, pizza sauce, and tomatoes, along with the olives, pepperoni, and the reserved cooked sliced mushrooms. Heat until the sauce begins to simmer. Taste and add salt and freshly ground black pepper, as needed.
- Combine the beef and pepperoni sauce mixture with the drained pasta. Toss to blend thorougly.
- Spoon half of the pasta mixture into the prepared baking dish. Top with half of the shredded cheese. Spoon the remaining pasta mixture over the cheese layer and finish with the remaining cheese.
- Bake for 25 to 35 minutes, until hot and bubbly and the cheese is thoroughly melted.
Makes about 8 servings.
|Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)|