Basically everyone on Instagram is on a major organizing binge right now. Whether Netflix has them KonMari-ing their lives or they've finally decided 2019 is the year they're becoming a minimalist, my stream is full of people putting things in order and clearing things out. Somehow they still seem to have five hundred pens and fifty pairs of shoes, but to each their own.
I learned a few years ago that the best way to simplify your life is to move to a different country with only what you can carry in your two suitcases without going over the airline's weight limit. I've done this three times now, so my brain is pretty well trained to resist bringing clutter into my life. We've bought a flat now, so I'm finally letting myself collect books again instead of going to the library, but other than that, if it doesn't serve a purpose that can't be fulfilled by something I already own, it doesn't make it into my home.
There are a couple of spots in my house that can get a bit clutter from time to time. You guessed it, the fridge and the pantry. That's why baked pasta is so genius. This Pepperoni Pasta Bake was made with two half full bags of pasta I had languishing in a cupboard, two half full bags of shredded cheese from my fridge, and the pepperoni I had leftover from this pizza. Cleaning up never tasted so good.
The recipe below is really just a suggestion. You can use any type of pasta, so long as they're of similar shape and size so that they have a relatively similar cooking time. Use any type of melty and mild cheese such as mozzarella, fontina, provelone, or even a mild cheddar. You could also add any bits of leftover meat hanging out in your fridge. I used pepperoni, but salami, sausage, or ground beef, pork or turkey would all be awesome. You can make your own sauce, but I always use my favorite jarred pasta sauce because I'm lazy. In terms of measurements, just eyeball it to balance out what you need to use up. Go with your gut, and your taste buds will be rewarded.
It's always the right time to learn how to live with less, go lighter through the world, and simplify your life. Why not keep it delicious while you're on this journey. Pepperoni Pasta Bake is a great way to start.
Pepperoni Pasta Bake
- 500 grams small pasta such as macaroni or small shells
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 jar tomato basil pasta sauce
- 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
- 15 slices pepperoni, cut into quarters
- 2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
- Preheat your oven to 350F (175C) and lightly spray a casserole dish with oil.
- Bring a large pot of water to boil, then add your salt. Dump in your pasta and cook as long as it says on the package for your chosen shape. Give it a stir occasionally to make sure the pasta doesn't stick together.
- When the pasta is al dente, drain it, and return it to the pot, off the heat. Add the pasta sauce, about two thirds of the cheese, the pepperoni, and the crushed red pepper flakes to the pasta. Stir well to combine everything.
- Transfer your pasta to your casserole dish, then sprinkle the rest of the cheese evenly over the top.
- Bake your pasta for about 15 minutes to melt the cheese. If you prefer your cheese to be a bit more brown, you can just keep it in the oven for longer.
- Allow the pasta to cool for at least five minutes before serving.