During the weeknights, casseroles can be a home cook's best friend. Often, there is a short prep time and then you throw everything together in a cooking dish and bake it.
This week the perfect candidate was Italian Pasta Casserole from Taste of Home's Healthy Cooking magazine.
To start, cook 2 cups of uncooked pasta, rinse with cool water and set aside. As that is going, combine 1/2 pound of lean ground beef and 1/2 pound of Italian turkey sausage links with casings removed (we used 20 ounces of Italian-seasoned ground turkey, which we had lying in our freezer for the past few months). Add onion and clove and cook until meat is no longer pink; drain.
Stir in diced tomatoes, undrained; tomato paste, Italian seasoning, chili powder, dried oregano, salt, garlic powder, dried thyme and pepper. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for about five minutes.
Then add the pasta and sliced turkey pepperoni. Transfer half of that mixture to a baking dish and then top with 1/2 cup of mozzarella cheese. Add the other half of the mixture and top with remaining half of cheese.
Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 to 25 minutes.
Serving size is 1 cup and we added a bit of sliced parmigiano reggiano.
It was an extremely hardy dish; no seconds needed. And the parmigiano gave a nice bit of nuttiness to the dish.