In need of a dinner the whole family will enjoy? This Italian style casserole is a twist on a classic Italian favorite that combines the best flavors of a combination pizza and penne pasta in an easy meal the whole family will savor. The casserole, made with penne pasta, mozzarella cheese, Italian sausage, pepperoni, and an assortment of vegetables, is the perfect main dish for your family table. It can easily be made in advance, or on the spot, and provides servings enough for the family or even for leftovers. By the end of this recipe, you should have crafted a beautiful hearty casserole that everyone would dig into!
Total Ingredient Cost: $12.00-$15.00
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 30-35 minutes
Total Time: 60-65 minutes
- 3 cups uncooked penne pasta
- 1 6oz package pre-sliced pepperoni (20 slices)
- 1-pound uncooked ground pork Italian sausage
- 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
- 2 sweet onions
- 1 green pepper
- 1 24oz jar tomato sauce
- 8 whole medium white mushrooms
- Table salt
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- 3 garlic cloves
- 2.25oz can sliced olives
- Conventional oven
- 6-quart pot
- 3-quart, 13x9x2 casserole dish
- Medium-sized skillet
- Small skillet
- Kitchen knife
- Cutting board
- Large spoon
- Measuring cups
Step 1: Oven Prep
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Step 2: Boil Water
2a. Fill a 6-quart pot with 4 quarts tap water.
2b. Place the pot on stove turned on high.
2c. Add 1-2 shakes of table salt into water and bring to a boil.
⚠️Warning: Use of a stove top can cause serious injury. Cook food with caution.
Step 3: Ingredient Prep
While waiting for the water to boil:
- Dice 1 green pepper
- Slice 8-10 mushrooms, or 1 cup
- Mince 3 cloves garlic
- Slice 2 sweet onions
- Drain can of olives
⚠️Warning: Improper use of sharp knives can cause serious injury. Prepare food with caution.
Step 4: Tomato Sauce Mixing
4a. Pour 2/3 jar of tomato sauce into a bowl.
4b. Add ½ teaspoon garlic powder and 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning.
4c. Stir seasonings evenly into the sauce.
Step 5: Cook Pasta
By now the water should be boiling.
5a. Add 3 cups pasta to pot of boiling water.
5b. Cook for 9 minutes, or according to box directions. Stir frequently.
Step 6: Cook Onions
While waiting for the pasta to cook:
6a. Add 1 tablespoon vegetable oil to medium-sized skillet.
6b. Heat to medium-high heat.
6c. When the skillet is producing noticeable heat that could be felt with a hand placed 1 1/2 inches above it, put half of sliced onions in skillet and cook until slightly browned.
Step 7: Cook Sausage
7a. Add ground sausage to skillet when onions have slightly browned.
7b. Depending on the state of the ground sausage, take effort to separate it into smaller chunks with the spatula.
7c. Cook until completely brown with no signs of pink coloring.
⚠️Warning: Cooking and handling raw meat improperly can cause illness and contamination. Cook meat thoroughly and keep surfaces clean.
Step 8: Cook Mushrooms
This could be done concurrently with the cooking sausage and onions.
8a. Add 1 tablespoon vegetable oil to small skillet on medium heat.
8b. Add sliced mushrooms and minced garlic when the oil feels slightly hot.
8c. Cook for 7-8 minutes or until mushrooms have decreased in size by half. Stir frequently.
Step 9: Tomato Sauce and Sausage Mixture
9a. Add tomato sauce and seasoning mixture to skillet with sausage after the sausage is thoroughly cooked.
9b. Stir the mixture evenly into the sausage.
9c. Simmer on low heat for 5 minutes. The sauce mixture should be bubbling slightly.
Step 10: Pasta Draining
Note: This step could be interjected anywhere during the sausage, onion and mushroom cooking process depending on how long it takes to cook those items.
10a. Pour cooked pasta into strainer to drain water.
10b. Return pasta to pot and remove pot from heat.
Step 11: Mixing Pasta With Sausage Mix
11a. Take sausage mixture off heat and pour over the pasta in the pot.
11b. Add 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese.
11c. Stir gently to combine.
Step 12: Transferring Into Casserole Dish
12a. Carefully transfer mixture to ungreased 3-quart (13x9x2) casserole dish.
12b. Spread it out so it fills the dish evenly.
Step 13: Cheese Before Everything Else
Top casserole mixture with remaining 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese.
Step 14: Adding Toppings
Cover the top of casserole mixture evenly with pepperoni slices, onion, mushrooms, green pepper and black olives in whatever order desired.
Step 15: Baking
15a. Place casserole dish into top rack of preheated oven.
15b. Bake uncovered for 30-35 minutes, or until cheese is melted and toppings appear toasted.
⚠️Warning: Careless use of an oven can cause serious injury. Use caution and protection when placing or removing items from oven.
Step 16: Dig In!
When the casserole is finished baking, remove and let stand for 5 minutes before enjoying!
Congratulations! You have successfully created a casserole that combines the best of pizza and penne pasta in a dazzling display of colorful toppings sitting atop the crispy bubbling mozzarella cheese. This dish should be a hearty addition to the dinner table and a definite favorite even among pickier eaters of the family. Should you wish to experiment with different kinds of pasta or toppings, this recipe could be modified to your preferences. Any kind of pizza flavor imaginable will work with the pasta filling, so that you can tailor this casserole to whatever ingredients and flavors the family enjoys!
Step 17: About the Authors
Miranda Jackson, Owen Lempert and Angie Peng
We are a group of college students who have become familiar with the art of casserole making due to the time constraints of schoolwork and other committments. Though we usually make casseroles for a whole week of dinner, we recognize that other kinds of cooks may benefit from our experiences (and the wide variety of casserole combinations we have tested so far). In this recipe we have combined our love for combo pizza and Italian pasta into a single dish for all the pizza/pasta lovers out there. We dedicate this casserole to all families who want a good hearty meal that looks good and tastes good!