Pizza Casserole

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Even though this Pizza Casserole can be frozen for later, you’re not going to want to do that. It’s the ultimate in delicious comfort food.

Taking On Magazines | Even though this Pizza Casserole can be frozen for later, you're not going to want to do that. It's the ultimate in delicious comfort food.

Even though my daughter is still wearing shorts to school, it’s officially fall in my neck of the woods. Yes, yes, I know that the calendar declared it was so a few weeks ago, but you know as well as I do that sometimes those official keepers of time can lie. 

Soon after the ‘real’ first day of autumn, our temperatures soared into the low 80’s. The leaves were green and Hubby was out mowing the lawn. Not so fallish in my opinion. This week, however, things are different, unless, of course, you look at Sophie’s wardrobe.

Beyond the fact that the trees are turning gold and crimson and the sky is a deeper, richer shade of blue, I notice fall’s arrival in the way my friends talk. We’re discussing movie nights instead of picnics while we drink latte’s instead of lemonade, okay, it was Mike’s Hard Lemonade, but it’s still lemonade.

This past Tuesday night, while Sophie was doing the Girl Scout thing, one of the other moms (hi Monica) was bemoaning her recent yet thorough addiction to Pinterest (yes, staring at pin boards until 2 a.m. constitutes an addiction). 

Monica mentioned that she’s been drawn to casseroles lately and I had to agree with her. I’ve felt the pull too. 

The Process

I think they should have called this rib-sticking, tummy-filling bad boy a Meat-Lovers Pizza Casserole, considering the fact that it holds a pound of sausage, 6 ounces of Canadian bacon and a good amount of pepperoni. 

In a way, the process is much the same as putting together a lasagne. While my pasta cooked, I browned my sausage along with the mushrooms, Canadian bacon, onion and garlic in a big skillet, then added the wine and marinara (since I used hot Italian sausage I didn’t add pepper flakes). 

I’ll confess that I made another change along with leaving out the pepper. Since our family really dislikes ricotta’s grainy texture, I used reduced-fat cream cheese for the cheese layer. I simply subbed it in and combined it with the Parmesan and sour cream as the instructions requested. 

Layering the pasta, sausage, cheese and Mozzarella filled up my biggest casserole dish completely and I finished it off with rounds of pepperoni. I found 40 minutes of baking to be the perfect amount of time.

The Verdict

Let’s get the whole mushroom thing out of the way first. I love them and they were awesome. Sophie ran a vivid commentary every time she came across one and I ended up a nice pile on the side of my plate. Hubby just surreptitiously left his to the side. 

Other than the fungus thing, this casserole received hearty thumbs up. Sophie just about licked her plate clean and Hubby enjoyed a oversized serving down to the last ziti noodle. I have to admit that I contemplated having seconds. 

The only negative comment I heard was from Hubby, who mentioned that there was a bit too much cheese for him. The casserole is very cheesy. I think it would have worked just as well to omit the Mozzarella from the middle layer and just sprinkle 8 ounces on top. 

What I’d Do Different Next Time

I’d use cream cheese instead of ricotta because we’re not ricotta fans and I would omit the Mozzarella from the middle layer, only using 8 ounces on top.

The Recipe

Pizza Casserole
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Reviewed by:
Recipe type: Casserole
Cuisine: American
Serves: 6-8 servings
  • 1 pound sweet Italian sausage
  • 8 ounces sliced fresh baby portobello mushrooms
  • 6 ounces Canadian bacon, chopped
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • ½ cup dry red wine
  • 2 26-ounce jars marinara sauce
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 16-ounce package ziti pasta, cooked according to package directions
  • 1 16-ounce package shredded whole-milk mozzarella cheese
  • 1 cup sliced pepperoni
  1. Preheat oven to 350 and spray a large baking dish with cooking spray.
  2. Cook sausage, mushrooms, Canadian bacon, onion and garlic in a large skillet over medium heat until the sausage is cooked through and crumbly. Drain. Add the wine and cook for an additional 5-10 minutes, until almost all the liquid is evaporated.
  3. Add in the marinara and red pepper flakes, stir to combine. Remove from heat and set aside.
  4. Mix together the Parmesan, ricotta and sour cream in a medium bowl.
  5. Layer half the pasta, half the sausage mixture, all the ricotta mixed and half the mozzarella in the prepared baking dish. Repeat the layers, ending with the mozzarella. Arrange the pepperoni slices on top.
  6. Bake, uncovered, for 40-45 minutes, or until hot and bubbly.
What I'd Do Different Next Time
I'd use cream cheese instead of ricotta because we're not ricotta fans and I would omit the Mozzarella from the middle layer, only using 8 ounces on top.


I’m pretty sure that when my parents read this, they won’t be able to get beyond the first line about Sophie still wearing shorts to school. I may even get an e-mail about how she needs to be bundled up so she won’t catch cold. I pick my battles, my friends, and forcing layers of clothes on my hot little dynamo isn’t one we choose to fight, especially since she really isn’t cold yet. Me, however; I’m wearing a sweater.


15 thoughts on “Pizza Casserole

  • October 17, 2014 at 12:44 pm

    Sounds great! We're not big ricotta fans either, so I'd sub 2% cottage cheese, same as I do in my lasagna.

  • October 17, 2014 at 5:48 am

    I love he sub-in of the cream cheese. I am seeing this on the table for the next school pot luck.

    • October 17, 2014 at 9:22 am

      Thanks, Deb. I love using cream cheese instead of ricotta. I think it makes it more creamy than the other. If you do make it, let me know what you think.

  • October 16, 2014 at 11:31 pm

    What a great idea for a casserole! I'm not so crazy about mushrooms, so am in the non-mushroom crowd. But in our house, bring on the cheese!!

  • October 16, 2014 at 11:00 pm

    Wow. This is one seriously casserole, I like that's a fancy version of baked ziti and fit to feed a crowd. Also the weather has been nuts around here too. Some cool days and this week warm and humid again.

    • October 17, 2014 at 9:14 am

      I suppose I shouldn't complain. At some point I guess the weather will settle down into just being cold so we should be happy with what we have now, no matter how bizarre is, huh.

  • October 16, 2014 at 8:53 pm

    Haha! My son refuses to wear pants and wore shorts all winter last year. Granted, we live in AZ, so it doesn't get deathly cold. I get my revenge by driving him to school in a top-down convertible every chilly morning.

    With your family on leaving out the mushrooms. Gack.

  • October 16, 2014 at 6:52 pm

    Christiane, this pizza casserole looks mighty scrumptious―had to come over from G+ for a closer look. I probably would omit the mushrooms, but the cheesy quality might make them less noticeable for the kids. BTW, I love your idea of lemonade. ;)

    • October 17, 2014 at 9:00 am

      Hey Brooks! Thanks for coming on over. :) I'm a bit surprised at how many people don't like mushrooms. I wonder why I do when one of my least favorite mouth-feels is slimy stuff. As a point of reference, Sophie noticed them right away, in spite of all the cheese. Good luck.

  • October 16, 2014 at 5:54 pm

    This is such a creative idea — my kids would have loved it!!

  • October 16, 2014 at 3:27 pm

    It may be October, but it's still in the 80s here. I'm with Sophie. I haven't even pulled out my long sleeved shirts yet. =)
    This sounds SO good. I love pizza. I love lasagna. This seems like the perfect marriage of the two.

  • October 16, 2014 at 11:21 am

    I make something similar, but since I'm with your daughter and leave out the mushrooms. This looks delicious! :) And October short wearers unite! :)

    • October 16, 2014 at 2:15 pm

      I could add double the mushrooms and leave out half the meat and be happy. I just make sure that I make the pieces big so she can find them. :)


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