This Spicy Pepperoni Pasta Bake will feed the whole family and satisfy even the fussiest of eaters.
Spicy Sauce for Spicy Pepperoni Pasta Bake
The first step in making the sauce may also be the most technical, albeit a relatively easy task. To make it, we need to saute the onion, garlic, carrot, and Chilli in the olive oil until it softens. There’s no set time on this as depends on the size of the vegetable but it could take up to 20 minutes. The biggest time waste here may be the carrot, and if your knife skills aren’t up to the task, simply grate the carrot to rapidly reduce the cooking time.
Once everything has softened, add the puree, herbs and tomatoes and bring to a boil before reducing to a simmer. Allow the sauce to cook and thicken before blending. I find it best to use a hand blender but you may prefer to use a food processor or standing blender. Alternatively, you can skip this step by using passata and cooking the vegetable in the same way until soft, to keep them chunky. Just remember to also add the red onion here or remove either the white or red onion. However, once you’ve mastered this sauce, you can use it to make Pasta al Arrabbiata.
Pepperoni actually means bell pepper in Italian. The reddish colour of pepperoni comes from the nitrates used to preserve the pork and protect the sausage from botulism. The American invention is a salami in style but is less spicy. It is the most popular American pizza topping which also inspires this recipe as ots based on the classic American hot pizza, utilising chilli, red onion, and Pepperoni.
Topping for Spicy Pepperoni Pasta Bake
The topping uses buffalo mozzarella for a rich sweetness while using a mix of savoury Breadcrumbs and parmesan for crunch. The Breadcrumbs turn golden as the cheese melts and is often found in my pasta bake Recipes. However, if you prefer to simply top with your favourite grated cheese blend then by all means do so. It’s your dinner after all.
Spicy Pepperoni Pasta Bake
- 30 ml Olive Oil
- 1 Large White Onion
- 3 Cloves of Garlic
- 1 Medium Carrot Chopped
- 2 Celery Sticks Chopped
- 2 Red Chillis Split in Half Lengthwise
- 1 Tbsp Oregano
- 1 Tbsp Paprika
- 2 Tbsp Tomato Puree
- 2 Tins of Chopped Tomato
- 400 ml Water
- 240 g Pepperoni
- I Large Red Onion Sliced
- 400 g Penne Pasta
- 75 g Mozzarella Shredded
- 20 g Panko Breadcrumbs
- 20 g Grated Parmesan
- Salt / Pepper to taste
- Preheat the oven to 200C or 180C Fan 0r 400F or Gas 6
- In a pan add the olive oil, and soften the onions, carrot, and celery over medium heat until soft and the onions are translucent.
- Then add the garlic cloves and chilli. Cook for 3-4 minutes until the chilli begins to soften.
- Add the tomato paste, tinned tomatoes, paprika and oregano. Stir to combine, then add the water. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer for 20 minutes until the vegetables are soft and the flavours have infused.
- Blend the sauce and pass through a sieve for a smoother texture.
- In a clean pan, add the pepperoni and slowly bring to high heat. Cook until the pepperoni begins to release its fat, and crisp then add the red onion. Cook on high for 3-4 minutes until the onions become tender.
- Add the strained sauce and the pasta to the pan. Stir to combine. Season to taste.
- Empty the pan into an oven-proof dish and cover with foil. Bake in the centre of a preheated oven for 20 minutes.
- In the meantime, combine the parmesan with the breadcrumbs and season with black pepper.
- Remove the pasta bake from the oven. Top with shredded mozzarella, then top with the breadcrumbs. Return the pasta bake to the oven, and bake uncovered for 10-12 minutes until the cheese is bubbling and the topping begins to brown.