Pizza Casserole With Three Cheeses, a Dish Family, Friends, and Surprise Guests Will Love
Holidays are a time to visit with family, friends, and unexpected guests. These visits are fun for everyone, a time to catch up on news and make plans for the future. While making plans is easy, making dinner can be hard. Can you make a meal that young kids, teens, parents, and grandparents will enjoy? Yes, and it is Pizza Casserole, a blend of healthy pasta, lean ground beef, pizza sauce, and three kinds of cheese.
Cook the pasta the day before to save preparation time. Drain the pasta in a colander, put it in a zipper plastic bag, and coat elbows with a little olive oil to prevent clumping. This recipe calls for Ronzoni Smart Taste pasta (name trademarked), a new product with added fiber and calcium. It also calls or a specific brand of pizza sauce, but you may substitute another brand if you wish.
Cream cheese is the surprise ingredient and it adds richness to the dish. If the casserole has been refrigerated for a long time take it out of the refrigerator a half hour before baking and unforgettable it. Oven temperatures vary and you may have to bake the casserole a bit longer than stated. Remove the casserole from the oven when the sauce bubbles and the cheese starts to brown. Here is the recipe for Pizza Casserole with Three Cheeses, a holiday dish that may become a family favorite all year long.
Half a 14.5-ounce box of Ronzoni Smart Taste elbow pasta
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon extra light olive oil
1 teaspoon butter
1 1/4 pounds 93% lean ground beef (or 96% lean)
2 15-ounce cans De Fratelli all natural pizza sauce
1 1/2 cups 2% cottage cheese
8 ounce carton low-fat cream cheese, room temperature
2 cups reduced fat mozzarella cheese, shredded
1/2 teaspoon oregano leaves
Cook pasta in boiling water, drain, and transfer to a large bowl. Put olive oil and butter in skillet. As soon as the butter has melted add chopped skins to the skillet and cook until soft. Add comments to pasta. Brown beef in skillet, breaking it into small pieces as it cooks. Combine cooked beef with onions, pasta, and pizza sauce.
In a small bowl combine cottage cheese and cream cheese. (Make sure there are no lumps of cream cheese.) Coat a 9 1/2 "x 13 1/2" glass baking dish with cooking spray. Layer half of the meat mixture in the dish. Spread cheese mixture over meat layer. Top with remaining meat mixture. Spread mozzarella cheese over casserole and sprinkle with oregano. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes. Serve Pizza Casserole with aa green salad, garlic toast, and fresh fruit for dessert. Makes 10-12 servings.
Copyright 2007 by Harriet Hodgson