Hello lovely readership! All five of you! 🙂
I recently read this fabulous post by my absolute favorite baking blogger, Darla. Then when I was ordering my groceries for delivery, due to my lack of wheels in my living in this godforsaken place called New Jersey, I decided to go for it and ordered all of the components for this easy and yummy meal that will last foooooreeeeeveeerrrr (For the right effect, read that in the voice of those little green aliens from Toy Story. These guys.). I mean, it makes about twelve servings because you bake it in a 9 by 13, so for a person only feeding herself, it will last a really long time. I plan to freeze half of it. In little servings. Little servings of yummy pizza pastaness.
OK! Back to business.
First, you cook your pasta! I chose whole wheat organic pasta because I’m cool like that, and I figured if I was going to be eating something with “pepperoni” and “pizza” in the name I ought to use the healthiest ingredients possible. Plus, I like being full and I hate being hungry. Whole wheat pasta keeps me full for longer, in my experience, than normal pasta. Now that I’ve plugged whole wheat pasta fo FREE, on we go!
The full recipe calls for a 13 oz box of pasta,which is a LOT of pasta friends. Darla suggests you cook only until it is al dente because it will then be baked, but for my personal tastes I will cook it for longer next time. Whole wheat pasta is awesome, but it is definitely tougher than non-whole wheat pasta in general. I’d like it to be softer in the final product next time.
Then, you make the sauce all on your own! It is ridiculously easy and SO yummy. It just takes a few ingredients that you probably have in your cabinet already (except for 30-32 oz of tomato sauce) and it is quite yummy.
If you follow Darla’s recipe, this is where you will brown your sausage and dice your pepperonis. Since this is a pizza pasta bake, it is my personal opinion that you should put the things you love on a pizza into the pasta, so I opted for turkey pepperoni and black olives instead. The next time I make this, I think I’m going to make a veggie supreme version with sauteed onions, olives, peppers, and mushrooms. Yum!
A note on the sauce: I really enjoy the flavor of the sauce. My only complaint is that I like my pizza and my pasta to be extra saucey! Next time, I will go with two 15 oz cans of tomato sauce and an extra 8 oz can in order to increase the sauce content.
After your add-ins (toppings, if you will) are all prepared, combine them with the sauce that you have oh so expertly simmered.
Next you add the pasta to the sauce. You can mix it in the bowl, like I did:
Or you can pour them both into your pan and mix together there. Either way, the result is the same! Then you cover your pizza pasta with mozzarella cheese. Darla calls for two cups, but I went for more like three cups on my first try. I like things to be cheesy! Well, I like food to be cheesy. Less so jokes and people.
Then you pop it in your preheated oven (which is a nice and toasty 350 degrees) and let it hang out for about 25 minutes. When I checked on mine the top was not brown, so I let it go for another five minutes. When it still was not brown I was way too hungry to give a shit and pulled it out anyway.
This next step is the hardest part: wait for ten minutes so it will be cool and collected and, most importantly, will not burn off your tastebuds or make awkward things happen to the roof of your mouth. After the requisite ten minutes have passed, you can TOTALLY eat it!
Word to the wise, if you are indeed using super solid whole wheat extra healthy pasta, you won’t need nearly as much as you think to get full. I promise! I found out the hard way.
Suggested pairing: your new copy of bitch magazine.
A few concluding thoughts on this highly successful baking adventure: This meal can be as healthy as you want (or as delectably greasy! both are valid choices.) because you have so much control over what happens in the process. I chose turkey pepperoni, whole wheat pasta, and reduced fat mozzarella simply because I knew I’d be eating it every day for a while and that better fits my daily eating style. This dish can easily be made low sodium (only 1 teaspoon of extra salt goes into the sauce and you can use low sodium tomato sauce or some other tomato source if you prefer), vegetarian, or vegan (if you MUST skip the cheese). Did I mention it’s easy? Because it totally is.
All right! My editing break is over. It’s back to the thesis grindstone for me, but at least I’m full of pizza pasta goodness!
Love, sisterhood, and lots of cheese,