There’s a popular recipe for pizza casserole (maybe you’ve tried it) that combines spaghetti noodles, pizza toppings, and cheese to create a very tasty, very kid-friendly dinner.
The problem with this traditional recipe for pizza casserole is that it’s lacking in nutrition while bursting with fat-inducing calories. And though the kids may take a few bites, Mommy and Daddy end up eating all the leftovers . . . and hating themselves for it the next day. Not cool. So I created this Pizza Casserole that you can polish off and still feel great.
In place of the spaghetti noodles, I call for making noodles out of sweet potato using a spiral slicer. The reason for using sweet potato, rather than zucchini, is that the sweet potato is firmer and will become tender with the baking time, whereas zucchini noodles would get soggy and most likely break apart. You could also use butternut squash noodles.
Note: Choose nitrate- and sugar-free pepperoni slices for this dish. Or, if you’re not a fan of pepperoni, then feel free to leave it out completely. You could also get creative with the ground meat—use whatever kind you prefer, and vary it from time to time.
3 sweet potatoes
sea salt and black pepper to taste
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 bell pepper (any color), seeded and chopped
1 pound loose pork sausage
1 (2.25 oz) can sliced olives, drained
3 tomatoes, chopped
1 (16 oz) jar tomato basil pasta sauce (no added sugar)
30 pepperoni slices, nitrate-free
¼ cup fresh basil
Preheat the oven to 425°F. Lightly grease a 10 × 15-inch glass casserole pan with olive oil.
Peel the sweet potatoes and trim them to a size appropriate for your spiral slicer. Run all of the pieces through the slicer to create long, spaghetti-like noodles. Put the noodles in the prepared pan and toss with sea salt and black pepper.
Place a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil and garlic and sauté for 3 minutes. Add the onion and sauté until translucent, about 8 minutes. Add the bell pepper and pork sausage and cook, breaking up the sausage into small pieces with your spoon or spatula, until all of the pink is gone. Drain the fat from the skillet.
Stir in the olives, tomatoes if using them, pasta sauce, pepperoni slices, and basil. Cook for another 3 minutes, then pour the tomato mixture over the pan of noodles. Cover the pan tightly with foil and bake for 25 minutes, or until the noodles are tender.