…….and a cheese tip.
But first, can we talk about how grim January 2nd is? I’ve always felt – and still do – that today should be a day off. We all need that “one extra” day after the long holiday break to ease back in, don’t you think? It’s such an unrelenting stretch ahead of us that it just seems cruel to have to resume normal life the very next day.
But this is where this pasta comes in.
While logic would dictate that the appropriate “new year” post/recipe would be of the healthy, light, let’s-start-things-right ilk…….well, you know me better than that.
I wanted to share a dish that was of the all things easy, indulgent and it’s-going-to-be-okay ilk instead.
And pizza pasta is just that dish, amiright?
With only 4 ingredients – all stirred together in the dish you bake it in – it doesn’t get easier than this. OR more indulgent. You can swap/add whatever you like or have on hand in lieu of the pepperoni – ground beef, sausage, veggies – and it will be just as delicious.
All that’s needed is perhaps a side salad and these garlic knots.
And that cheese tip? I have always bought pre-shredded cheese for recipes that call for it. The only cheese I shred by hand is parmesan. And yet I’ve always been a bit peeved at how – in baked dishes like this one – the cheese in the inner layers never really melts. I recently learned that this is because the preservatives added to keep the cheese from clumping in the bag also prevent it from melting smoothly when cooking. Not so much an issue for dishes where the cheese is right on top like pizza, but definitely noticeable in layered dishes like lasagna.
So I tried shredding a block of mozzarella for this recipe to see if there was a measurable difference. And indeed there was. This was especially important for this dish as one of the things I love the most about it is the speed with which it comes together. If I was going to take the time and effort to shred my own cheese it had better be worth it.
Not. Turning. Back.
What about you? Do you tend toward the packaged stuff or do you always shred your own?
16 ounces uncooked pasta, regular or gluten-free (I love cavatappi in this dish but really any pasta will do)
24-ounce jar (3 cups) marinara sauce
5-6 ounce package of pepperoni, divided
2 cups shredded mozzarella (from a 16-ounce block), divided
grated parmesan and chopped parsley for garnish (optional)
Pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees. Grease 9″ x 13″ baking pan, along with a piece of foil large enough to cover.
Pour the pasta into the bottom of your dish. Pour the sauce evenly over, then fill the empty jar with water (or measure 3 cups) and pour that in too – give it all a stir. Top with about 3/4 of the pepperoni and 1 cup of the mozzarella. Place the foil, greased side down, over the dish and crimp to seal. Bake for 45 minutes.
Uncover the dish and add the remaining pepperoni and mozzarella. Bake for an additional 15 minutes, uncovered. Remove from oven and let sit for 10 minutes. Sprinkle with the parmesan and parsley if using.
This delicious recipe brought to you by Sheri Silver