Usually I start these posts off with a little banter. Not today, Lovelies. You'll want to drool over the photo for a moment and then dive into the kitchen to bake some of this goodness up. Just LOOK at the what's loaded into this pasta dinner!
I could've gone full out overboard on the fat and calories in this recipe, but Trainer Joe would give me 200 extra squats to do if I tried to pull that trick. SO, I subbed turkey for ground beef when I made up the meatballs, I used low fat cheeses, and I used Dreamfield's low carb penne pasta instead of the traditional carb-loaded variety.
The inspiration for this recipe came from my dear friend, Nettie. Just yesterday morning, she posted her recipe for Pizza Pasta Bake. I've had recipes come to my email inbox that gripped my attention enough that I made them up within a week or two, but this was the very first time that I laid my eyes on a dish and knew that I needed it in my belly as soon as possible... like IMMEDIATELY. I was SO happy when I realized that I had all of the ingredients I needed on hand!
I had plans to make some turkey burgers for dinner, so I decided to use the ground turkey for meatballs in the casserole instead. AWESOME decision on my part. YAY ME!
I think my very favorite part of this dish was Nettie's vegetable tomato sauce. It's not a traditional pasta sauce at all. It's full of freshly chopped veggies like carrots, celery, and onion, blended with some stewed tomatoes... Just all around goodness.
I'm hopeful that you'll give this recipe a try. If you do, I'd love to hear about it! Snap a couple of photos and share them with me on my Facebook page, okay?
- 1 lb penne or large shell pasta (I used Dreamfield's low-carb penne)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 onion chopped
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- 3 celery stalks, finely chopped (I used my Pampered Chef Food Chopper)
- 3 carrots, finely chopped
- 15 ounces whole peeled, stewed, or diced tomatoes
- 8 slices part skim Mozzarella cheese or 1.5 cups shredded.
- 15 cooked or frozen meatballs (I used turkey meatballs)
- 15 slices pepperoni
- 2 teaspoons Italian Seasoning
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon sugar (optional), to help cut the acidity of the tomatoes
- Heat oven to 350
- Lightly great a 9 x 13" casserole dish with non-stick cooking spray. Set aside.
- Bring water to a boil in a large stock pot. Add pasta and cook approximately 3-4 minutes less than stated on the package. As pasta cooks, prepare the sauce.
- Without heating the oil first, put olive oil, garlic, tomatoes, onion, carrot, celery, and all herbs and spices into a large saucepan and cook on medium heat for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Drain the pasta and transfer into the prepared casserole dish. Add the cooked vegetable tomato sauce.
- Combine pasta and sauce, then place meatballs evenly across the pasta. Place one slice of pepperoni on top of each meatball, and cover everything with cheese..
- Bake uncovered in oven for about 20 minutes, or until cheese is bubbly and golden brown.