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Saturday, February 23, 2013

Easy and frugal dinner of Cheesy Pepperoni Pasta Bake

Saturday is normally date night right?  Well when you're married and living on a budget date night does not necessarily mean eating out or carry in.  I made a delicious, two thumbs up by hubby's rating, dinner that is a definite keeper or as hubby says "one for the recipe book."  

I found the idea on Pinterest and the recipe from  But as I said time and time again I just CAN'T leave a recipe alone.  Everyone has their own tastes and growing up with Sunday Italian dinners, anything pasta must be changed to suit your own tastes.  Some days more garlic, some days more cheese, and some days both is the best idea.  What I came up with was a little more meat and some Melody flavor. 

Ali Ebright posted a wonderful recipe but my taste tonight need a little kick that would bring me back those Sunday dinners of when I was younger.

To the right is the final product.  We like a little more sauce, a little more cheese, and a little more meat.  OK to be honest I didn't have all the pepperoni the recipe called for so I had to substitute a little.

This is what I call Cheesy Pepperoni Pasta Bake:
1/2 lb Italian Sausage, without the casing.  If you prefer you can use the sausage with the casing and slice thin after cooking.
1/2 White Onion, chopped
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
3 oz Jar Mushrooms, this is what I had available.  Normally I would prefer fresh sauteed mushrooms.
8oz Can Italian Stewed Tomatoes
8oz Can Tomato Sauce
24oz Pasta Sauce  This time I used Hunts Roasted Garlic and Onion.
1 Teaspoon Italian Seasonings
2 Teaspoons Granulated Garlic
2 Teaspoons Tomato Paste
1lb Pasta, your choice  I used penne.
1 Cup Shredded Mozzarella
1 1/2 Cups Five Cheese Italian Blend
18 pepperoni, sliced in half

Prep sauce in bowl.  Mix stewed tomatoes, mushrooms, tomato sauce, pasta sauce, Italian seasonings, granulated garlic, tomato paste and set aside.

Heat olive oil in a pan, add onion and saute for approximately 2 minutes.  Add sausage and brown.  If you're using cased Italian sausage saute onions and set aside to mix with pasta later.

Once sausage has been browned, set aside to drain and cool.  Once cool, add to sauce and let it set until pasta is done.

Cook pasta al dente according to package instructions.
Preheat oven to 350.
Mix pasta, sauce, 2 cups of cheese, and a few of the pepperoni to put on top.
Place in greased baking dish.  Place remain 1/2 cheese and pepperoni on top and cover with aluminum foil and bake covered for 40 minutes. Then remove the aluminum foil and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes, until the cheese turns slightly golden.

We had this wonderful dish with a side salad but any veggie would do.  

Of course this dish can be made any night of the week and a good prepare ahead meal.  For this dish the one thing I definitely wouldn't skip or change is the pepperoni.  It definitely added a different flavor with a little kick.  So whether date night or any night try this recipe.  Whether you follow it to the letter or change to make it your own, remember the best ingredient is you ... Enjoy!!!!!