I think I may have outdone myself this time.
At the risk of sounding the OPPOSITE of modest, haha, this meal…is DELICIOUS. It is definitely comfort food and it does NOT apologize for it.
We need to get it in before all the spring freshness takes over (not that I am complaining about that being in the near future – but comfort food season is fleeting!).
This dish is truly reminiscent of pepperoni pizza. But in pasta form. All made in one pan (meaning, no boiling of the noodles!). Baked off until gooey and cheesy and TO DIE FOR.
It is a thing of beauty.
Meaty, cheesy, carby beauty.
So, here’s the thing: I can usually take or leave the pepperoni on pizza. I know, to meat lovers, this is blasphemy.
But I much prefer plain cheese, white pizza, or something loaded with veggies. Meat on pizza is not my go-to craving. I love pepperoni on a charcuterie board, especially when sharp cheddar and mustard is involved. Pizza, though? I can take it or leave it.
I can appreciate the meaty spice that pepperoni adds, and I DO think that it adds a ton of awesomeness to this dish.
That said, if you wanted to keep this vegetarian, you could omit the pepperoni altogether. If you aren’t leaning that way, I highly recommend you keep it….even if you are typically pepperoni-averse like me. It adds wonderful flavor and a hearty edge to the dish.
If you can find it, the mini pepperoni for this dish are perfect! They’re adorable (right?), but also add the flavor without being overpowering. Plus, you don’t have to chop them up at all if using the mini version. Less chopping is always a good thing. I’d call it a win-win.
Speaking of winning, aside from the delicious pizza flavor that is achieved here, this dish happens from start to finish in ONE pan. I know I already mentioned this but it is worth repeating. ONE pan to dirty and ONE pan to clean. That’s what I am talking about!
No boiling water. No separate pasta pot to wash. Just one pan.
If I sound like a broken record, it’s because this is the sort of thing that makes my busy mom brain relax. Dinner is easy. And then the clean up is easy. I will not shut up over how exciting this is to me.
The dish starts out by sautéing some onions, bell peppers, garlic, herbs, and spices until tender. Then we add in some tomato paste to add lots of depth and tomato-y goodness. Again, really trying to replicate that pizza flavor.
Then in goes our liquid. Don’t be alarmed if it seems like a lot of marinara and water – we need this to cook the pasta thoroughly, since it is cooking directly in the sauce.
Once the pasta is in, you want to make sure that you stir things frequently. Otherwise, the pasta can stick to the hot pan due to all the starches being directly released into the sauce. But once you get it going, there really isn’t a ton to do. It’s a mostly hands-off dish!
Once the pasta is tender and has absorbed some of the sauce, we add in the pepperoni, some parmesan, and a touch of cream cheese is take the edge off the tomato sauce. It’s not enough to make a full-blown cream sauce, but it does give it a touch of creaminess. I love it.
Then! We top the whole dish off with some cheese and put it in the oven to get melty and gooey – just like…you guessed it! Pizza!
I like to add some of the mini pepperoni to the top as well, so we really feel like we’re eating a pizza when everything is said and done. They crisp up and release their meaty flavor into everything. So good.
All that’s left to do is serve this up! Garnish with a little fresh herbs, if you feel like it. I love the pop of green it adds and I truly enjoy the fresh flavor with all of those heavier, cooked flavors. Fresh herbs make such a difference to me.
Gooey, rich, and decadent – unapologetically so. Get this in while you can! Before you know it, we’ll all be eating salads and grilled chicken and all the lighter spring fare!
Take it from this usually pepperoni-averse girl, this one is a winner.Print
This One-Pan Pepperoni Pizza Pasta Bake is a busy weeknight dream. It comes together in one pan from start to finish, tastes like a decadent pepperoni pizza and pasta in one, and will make your family oh so happy! It’s comfort food to the max and does NOT apologize for it!
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 red bell pepper, diced
- 1 green bell pepper, diced
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 teaspoon dried Italian herbs
- Pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 3 cups marinara sauce (we love Rao’s)
- 1½ cups water
- 12 oz penne pasta (or pasta shape of choice – I recommend a shorter shape)
- 4 oz cream cheese, cut into cubes (I use reduced-fat)
- ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
- 5 oz mini pepperoni, divided
- 1½ cups grated mozzarella cheese
- Fresh herbs, for serving (parsley or basil work best here)
- Preheat the oven to 425°F.
- Heat a large oven-safe skillet (preferably with a lid) over medium heat and add the oil. Once it is hot, add the onions and bell peppers along with a pinch of salt. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until they are beginning to soften.
- Add in the garlic, dried herbs, and red pepper flakes (if using), and cook for another 1-2 minutes.
- Add in the tomato paste and stir until it is melted and coating all the veggies.
- Stir in the marinara, water, and the pasta. Season with some salt and pepper (not too much – we’ll taste later and adjust, as needed. This can easily get over salty because of the marinara, cheese, and pepperoni).
- Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring frequently. Reduce the heat to low so that the liquids are barely simmering, cover the pan, and cook for 10-15 minutes or until the pasta is tender. Make sure to stir a few times to ensure that the pasta is not sticking to the bottom of the pan.
- Remove the lid and stir in the cream cheese, parmesan cheese, and roughly ⅔ of the pepperoni. Mix until everything is well combined and the cheeses are completely melted. Taste (carefully! It’s super hot!) and season with additional salt and pepper, as needed.
- Sprinkle the top of the pasta with the mozzarella cheese and remaining pepperoni.
- Transfer the pan to the preheated oven and bake for 10 minutes or until the cheese is melted, gooey, and golden brown in spots.
- Allow to cool slightly before serving, garnished with fresh herbs.
- You can use regular sliced pepperoni with this recipe. I recommend chopping it up a bit so it evenly disperses throughout the dish. The mini pepperoni are small enough that you can just stir them in as is. This is my favorite.
- To keep this vegetarian, simply omit the pepperoni altogether.
- Prep Time: 5 minutes
- Cook Time: 45 minutes
- Category: dinner
Keywords: one pan pasta bake, one pan pizza pasta bake, one pan pepperoni pizza pasta, one pan meals, pepperoni pizza pasta