Monday, May 9, 2016

Easy Weeknight Meals: Pizza Pasta

I have loads of tomato sauce.

Like loads.

I have a problem with planting tomato plants- as in my tomato jungle grows every year.  It's not neat. it's not orderly.  But it is quite prolific.

One can only eat and give away so many tomatoes before you reach the point where you can tomato no more and you still have mountains of tomatoes on the countertops that must be dealt with.  Lets just say I can a lot of tomato sauce each year!  While there are lots of ways to can tomatoes- stewed, sauced, juiced, diced, salsified, turned into BBQ sauce, whatever- I prefer just to can it as sauce.  That way I can go whatever route I need to when the time arises.  I can turn my canned tomato sauce into marinara, BBQ sauce, enchilada sauce- or I can just dump it into chili or soup or any other recipe that calls for tomato sauce.  Anyway, I have lots and lots of mason jars full of tomato sauce from my garden and I love finding ways to use it.

This time I turned it into spaghetti sauce (my favorite recipe is this one from Fashionably Foodie, try it with these Zucchini Patties when your garden is going crazy this year!) to use in Pizza Pasta.

Ok, lets just talk about this recipe for a minute- because it's one of those recipes that you really need to keep in your back pocket for when your day gets crazy and you need a filling meal for the family with ingredients you already have in the house.
You don't need home-canned tomatoes to make perfectly acceptable pasta sauce.  Most of us have a jar of spaghetti sauce in the pantry we can grab.  

It gets even better- you can mess with this recipe pretty much any way that works for you with what you've got in the house.  Don't have ground beef?  No problem!  Sub Italian Sausage.  Or ham.  Or extra pepperoni.  Or whatever.

Don't have cavatappi- whatever, that's just my family's personal favorite so I always have a bag available.  Use penne.  Or campanelle.  Or elbows, bowties, rigatoni, rotini, or heck just use spaghetti. 
Use what you've got, it's all going to come out fine.

Now, this is pizza pasta so you can kind of go crazy with the mix-ins or just leave it simple and stick with pepperoni.  Olives, peppers, onions, fresh basil, mushrooms, whatever.  If you like it on pizza and you've got it in your fridge then by all means throw it in the mix.  

Recipes that are this easy to adapt are perfect for weeknight meals- who wants to run to the store with hungry kids at the end of the day?  I sure don't!

8 oz cavatappi pasta
1 lb lean ground beef
1 small onion, diced
1 (28 oz) jar spaghetti sauce
4 oz sliced pepperoni sausage
2 C shredded mozzarella cheese

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

2. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain.

3. In a medium skillet over medium-high heat, cook beef with onion until beef is brown. Drain. Combine beef mixture with spaghetti sauce, pepperoni and cooked pasta and pour into a 9x13 inch baking dish. Top with mozzarella.
4. Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes, until cheese is melted and golden.

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