Pepperoni Pizza Casserole

My wife has a crazy love for pizza. The second I mention that I want to go on a diet or start eating better, her craving for Papa John’s goes through the roof. I’m pretty sure she has their number saved in her phone. The problem is – I’m not crazy about pizza. I mean, sure, I’ll eat a few dozen slices like the best of them, but I have just never had a love for Italian food. But then I found this recipe.

I was trying to find things that I know Hope would like, because I’m making her do this paleo thing so if she is being forced to do it AND she doesn’t like the food, that’s no bueno. So cruising around the internet, I stumbled upon the website Tessa the Domestic Diva and she had this recipe for Paleo Pepperoni Pizza Casserole. Except it wasn’t paleo. She uses cheese in it! I can’t stand it when people do that. But I digress.

The recipe was fairly easy to make, if you already have the ingredients made. If you make the sauce and the noodles the day before, it’s really, really easy. Ready? Here we go.

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Paleo Pepperoni Pizza Casserole

Ingredients

  • For the cashew cheese:
    • 1.5 cup cashews
    • 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
    • Salt
    • Onion powder
    • Garlic powder
    • Ground black pepper
  • For the spaghetti sauce:
    • Coconut oil
    • 1 small onion
    • 4 cloves garlic
    • 2 (15 ounce) cans tomato sauce
    • 1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
    • 3 medium sized tomatoes, chopped
    • Fresh basil
    • Ground black pepper
    • Salt
    • Dried oregano
    • Ground thyme
    • Red pepper flakes
  • For the actual casserole:
    • 1 pound ground turkey
    • 8 ounces chopped pepperoni, divided (try to find a brand with no nitrates)
    • 1/2 small white onion, diced small
    • 4 cloves garlic, minced
    • Salt
    • Dried basil
    • Dried oregano
    • Dried thyme
    • 4 cups roasted spaghetti squash noodles (1 spaghetti squash)
    • 2 cups spaghetti sauce
    • 2 eggs
    • 1/2 cup cashew cheese, divided

Instructions:

  • THE DAY BEFORE:
    • Take the cashews, place them in a bowl and fill the bowl with water, so that the cashews are completely submerged. Leave the cashews out overnight.
    • Preheat the oven to 375
    • Cut the squash in half hotdog style. All you have to do is get a cut started, about halfway through, and then slam the squash down on the counter.
    • Remove the seeds and the pulp
    • Place the halves, cut side down, on a baking sheet (put foil on the baking sheet first) and sprinkle water around the squash
    • Place in the oven for 30-40 minutes, take it out and flip it over to cool. Once they are cool enough to handle, take a fork and scrape the insides, creating spaghetti-like strings.
    • Prepare the veggies for the spaghetti sauce (dice the onion, mince the garlic, chop the tomatoes and fresh basil)
    • Melt the coconut oil over medium-high heat on a skillet
    • Add chopped onion and minced garlic and sauté for about 3 minutes
    • Turn on the slow-cooker on low
    • Add all ingredients and stir to combine
    • Cook the sauce on low for 6-8 hours
  • THE NEXT DAY:
    • Preheat oven to 400 degrees
    • In a large skillet over medium heat, sauté the ground turkey, 1/2 of the pepperoni, onion and garlic
    • As the ground meat cooks, sprinkle in the seasonings to your liking
    • Drain the water from the cashews
    • Pour cashews into a food processor (I just use my NutriBullet)
    • Add almond milk and spices to the blender
    • Blend until cashews become a smooth and creamy consistency (kinda like ricotta cheese)
    • In a large bowl, mix the warm beef mixture, spaghetti sauce, squash threads, eggs and 1/4 cup of cashew cheese.
    • Place into a casserole dish (I used a 9×9)
    • Top with the remaining pepperoni and the remaining cheese
    • Bake for 30 minutes

Again, I know it seems labor intensive. But if you make the sauce, noodles and cheese the day before, it’s really not that bad.

Sorry, Papa John’s – I think I like this dish better. I meant to take a picture of it once it was all served up, but it was too good. This was all I got:

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