~ This incredibly quick and easy pizza pasta bake is an absolute lifesaver on busy nights! It’ll be in the oven in no time flat – you can even mix it all up right in the pan (and you don’t even have to precook the pasta)! So cheesy and full of great pizza flavors! Your whole family will love it! Hint: this is also the perfect casserole to share with new moms and friends who could use the boost of a deliciously comforting meal! ~
Even the hustle and bustle of the holidays just doesn’t hold a candle to the craziness that is my life in the spring!
In addition to the year-long activities the kids are involved in, we now introduce sports and other spring activities into the mix. And because it’s nearing the end of the school year, there are orchestra and choir concerts, school events, dance recitals, field trips … oh! I need a nap! Alas … there’s just not time for that!
Don’t get me wrong … I love to be busy. I actually feel like I’m more focused and efficient when there’s a time crunch (procrastinators, unite!) and we’ve got to be in 17 places at once. I don’t know why I’m wired that way, but I’m pretty sure it drives Shelley nuts – she’s a total planner.
But, this time of year, she’s in the same boat as I am! Her life in the spring is just as hectic as mine! We’re flying by the seat of our pants, doing our best to make sure everyone arrives where they need to be, fueled up for whatever activity lies ahead. And the majority of moms (and dads!) we talk to feel the exact.same.way.
And obviously, the kids are in school during the day … so all of those extra activities are crammed into the evening. Makes sense. But sometimes I’m left with approximately 6.2 minutes to feed my kids dinner and have them back in the car to get to the next event.
Even mornings can be a little cuckoo … there are PTO meetings and end-of-the-year parties to plan by committee. So sometimes even crock pot meals aren’t an option, even though I love to use my crock pot!
On occasion, I need speedy quick meals that I can toss together and throw in the oven while I try (I really do try) to help with eighth-grade math and listen to elementary school poetry homework.
I need something that the entire family loooooves, and that makes enough for leftovers (since tomorrow’s schedule is looking a tad hairier than today’s).
I need … I need … I need a dinner that requires very little attention from me. That honestly does the work for itself. Yes!!!
Cue the trumpets, ’cause I’m bringing in the hero!
Friends, I introduce you to the pizza pasta bake. I’m not joking when I tell you that this little beauty of a dinner is ready to go into my oven before the oven is even preheated.
The only real prep work here is chopping the turkey pepperoni. Everything else is dump and stir. Yep, I said it. Just dump and stir. (And you can do the stirring right in the pan! Not kidding.)
My favorite thing about this recipe is that I’ve always got what I need to make this, right on hand. And considering it’s only five ingredients … it’s simple to keep everything in the pantry. (Ok fine, the cheese needs to stay in the fridge … but you get where I’m going!). So when lacrosse practice is moved up 45 minutes since it looks like the weather might be bad, I can whip this up in no time. Seriously, no time.
My kids are fed and I feel good about what I just fed them. I know they’ll get through that practice, or lesson, or concert, or mountain of homework – and be full and focused!
Schedules are already hectic … dinner shouldn’t be!
Take a breath … summer is just around the corner!
- 12-14 ounces whole grain rotini pasta, uncooked (see note)
- 23.9-ounce jar of your favorite pasta sauce
- 2 cups water
- 2 cups (8 ounces) shredded, reduced-fat mozzarella cheese (divided)
- 4-5 ounces turkey pepperoni (quartered)
- 2 tablespoons shredded parmesan cheese
- Additional parmesan cheese and fresh basil for garnish, if desired
- Preheat oven to 425°F.
- In an ungreased 9x13 baking pan, combine uncooked rotini, pasta sauce, water, 1½ cups mozzarella, and pepperoni, stirring thoroughly to combine.
- Top with remaining ½ cup mozzarella and parmesan.
- Cover tightly with foil.
- Bake for 30-40 minutes, until pasta is tender.
- Garnish with additional parmesan and fresh basil, if desired.
Whole grain rotini: Different brands of whole wheat pasta seem to be sold in widely varying amounts. We’ve tested this recipe with a range of pasta amounts, and recommend that you simply use the amount your favorite brand offers (anywhere between 12 and 14 ounces). Obviously, with 12 ounces of pasta, you’ll have proportionately a bit more sauce, and at 14 ounces of pasta, your final dish will be a bit more focused on the noodles.