Every once in a while, Jacob gets on a kids’ cookbook whim and checks a few out from the library. I’ll look through them with him and help him pick out a few to try. The best one we’ve found so far is Pizza Pasta. The original recipe is more kid-friendly as far as cooking goes, but I usually tweak recipes before they make the final cut for our family – and for this blog. That said, this one turned out slightly more complicated in that area (for kids), but it tastes so much better. The best thing is you can add whatever ingredients you like, and you can completely change it up from one time to the next.
Gather your basic ingredients: pasta, crushed tomatoes (or pasta sauce), aromatics (onion, peppers, garlic), seasonings, add-ins, and cheese.
Heat some olive oil in a skillet and sauté some diced onions and bell peppers until soft. Add in a few cloves of minced garlic and some sliced mushrooms and sauté for another minute or so.
Stir in a can of crushed tomatoes (or pasta sauce) and some Italian seasoning.
Add your choice of toppings, stir well, and let simmer.
We like a little sweeter sauce, so I always add a little brown sugar. (Since this was supposed to have more of a pizza flavor, I didn’t add as much as I do for spaghetti.)
Simmer, taste, and adjust seasonings as necessary. Then pour over pasta and mix thoroughly.
Serve it topped with some shredded mozzarella cheese. And maybe a little Parmesan.
Here’s what I used for the pictured recipe, but feel free to omit or exchange other ingredients to suit your tastes better.
1 package of short pasta (penne, ziti, farfalle, rotini, etc.)
olive oil (I usually spritz some into a non-stick skillet, but you could use about 1-2 Tbsp.)
1 large onion, diced
1 bell pepper, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 lb. mushrooms, sliced or quartered
1 28-oz. can crushed tomatoes
Italian seasoning to taste (I never measure this.)
1 can black olives, sliced or halved
1 c. pepperoni slices, halved
1/2 c. spinach leaves, chopped
small handful of brown sugar (I never measure this, either.)
mozzarella cheese, shredded
Cook pasta according to package directions.
Heat olive oil in large skillet; sauté onions and peppers. Add in garlic and mushrooms, sautéing for another minute or two.
Add tomatoes and Italian seasoning. Stir in olives, pepperoni, and spinach; simmer until spinach is wilted. If desired, add brown sugar to taste and allow to simmer a few more minutes.
Drain pasta; return to pot and add sauce, mixing well. Serve in large bowls, topped with mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses. A Caesar or garden salad is a great complement.
Note: If you prefer using ham or Canadian bacon, follow the recipe, replacing the pepperoni. If you would rather use ground meat or Italian sausage, omit the olive oil and brown the meat with the onions and peppers. Drain before adding garlic and mushrooms.