Neighborhood Italian restaurants always have two things on the menu: pizza and pasta. So why not combine the two in one cozy dish? Yes, I am a genius.
Start by boiling some type of short pasta til it’s al dente. I went with shells. While the pasta cooks, prep your other ingredients: chop up pepperoni, fresh mozzarella, and basil. Next, warm some marinara sauce with some cream cheese til it gets to a lovely burnt Siena color. Add in the pepperoni and basil and then toss in the cooked pasta. Pour into a baking dish and fold in the mozzarella. Note: for one box of pasta, I used a half jar of sauce but could have gone with more. Finally, for your “pizza crust,” mix panko with garlic powder and grated parmesan (for a total of about a cup’s worth of topping) and sprinkle all over. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes.
In the end, my beau ate 4 helpings so I’m calling it: this recipe was a success. Next time I’ll go a bit heavier on the sauce and pepperoni, but there’s no doubt there will be a next time. Next time you’re thinking of bringing a baked ziti to a potluck, consider this dish. Same amount of effort with way more flavor.