Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Make Ahead Pizza Casserole

Make Ahead Pizza Casserole

I don't make a lot of make-ahead casserole dishes but this one looked good. I am so glad I tried it.  It was so simple to throw together on Saturday and so nice to have dinner nearly on the table when I got home from work on Sunday.  I just asked my husband to preheat the oven, stir the casserole, and pop it in the oven about an hour before I got home from work.  This dish is VERY similar to the Skillet Lasagna I've made dozens of times, but of course the casserole is baked in the oven.  As we had this for dinner, I was thinking of ways this might be made a little more healthful.  Whole grain pasta and turkey Italian sausage perhaps.  One could also add diced bell peppers when cooking up the sausage.  Just like pizza, you can add or subtract ingredients based upon your preferences.  I would have loved olives in this casserole but family doesn't like them.  Bummer!

I found this recipe on the Better Crocker Website:


1 lb mild Italian pork sausage (I used 1.25 lb. Johnsonville Hot Italian Sausage)
2 cups water (I added an extra 1/8 cup water since my pizza sauce jar was only 14 ounces)
1 can (15 oz) pizza sauce (I used Di Napoli Classico Traditional Pizza Sauce, 14 oz.)
1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes with sweet onion, undrained (I used fire roasted diced tomatoes)
4 cups uncooked rotini pasta (10 oz)
1 can (2 1/4 oz) sliced ripe olives, drained (I left this out but it would be great in this dish!)
1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella or pizza cheese blend (6 oz)
(I added a bit of garlic powder, crushed red pepper flakes, and dried Italian herbs, too!)

1. In 10-inch skillet, cook sausage over medium-high heat 8 to 10 minutes, stirring frequently, until no longer pink; drain.

2. In ungreased 13x9-inch (3-quart) glass baking dish, mix water, pizza sauce and tomatoes. Stir in cooked sausage, uncooked pasta and olives (pasta should be completely covered with sauce). Cover tightly with foil; refrigerate at least 8 hours or overnight.

3. When ready to bake, heat oven to 350°F. Stir casserole; cover with foil and bake 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes or until bubbly.

4. Uncover baking dish; stir mixture. Sprinkle with cheese; bake uncovered 5 minutes longer or until cheese is melted.

Makes 6 servings (1 1/3 cups each)

This sauce was a good choice.  Good stuff!

Leftovers for work.  Love that!

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