This easy pasta bake is the perfect meal for a gloomy day, but it’s also delicious anytime of the year. Whether made in the kitchen or outside on the grill, it’s comfort food at its best, and what’s not to love with a cheesy, meaty pasta bake! Kick it up a notch and add some Dizzy Pig Seasonings to create delicious layers of flavors in each bite.
For this cook, I used ground venison with bacon, spinach and porcini mushrooms, seasoned with Dizzy Pig “Game On” and topped with Mozzarella Cheese. It was “Game On” to see who could have seconds before it was all gone!
- 1 lb ground venison (can also use ground beef, pork, chicken and/or any meat leftovers)
- 2 slices thick cut bacon, chopped into bite-sized pieces
- 2 Tbsp Dizzy Pig “Game On” seasoning
- 1 lb pasta (I used Rigatoni but just about any noodle / spiral type pasta will do)
- 24 oz tomato sauce (use your favorite brand or make your own), or more if you like a saucier pasta bake
- 1 large onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic (use as much as you like! I’m a garlic nut and used 6 cloves)
- 8 oz shredded cheese (use any cheese or combo you like – I used shredded mozzarella, provolone cheese AND fresh mozzarella slices for the topping) **Add more cheese if you want it extra cheesy**
- Optional ingredients
- 1/2 to 1 cup dry Porcini mushrooms (or use any mushrooms you want or have on hand)
- 8oz baby spinach
- 2 tsp Dizzy Pig Mediterranean-ish Italian & Greek seasoning
- Preheat grill/oven to 375°F. If cooking outside, I like to put my 12″ cast iron or oven-proof skillet on the grill as it comes to temperature
- Cook pasta on the stove top as directed, but drain a few minutes earlier so pasta is still a bit firm or al dente
- If cooking on the stove top, heat up the cast iron skillet
- Add the chopped bacon and cook until they start to brown and crisp up, about 3-5 minutes
- Add the onions and garlic, and cook until they are softened and fragrant, about 2-3 minutes
- Add the Porcini mushrooms (if using) and cook for 3-4 minutes. (If you can find Porcini mushrooms, go for it! They add such an earthy umami punch to venison and the overall dish. I used dry porcini mushrooms which I steeped in hot water prior to the cook)
- Add the ground venison and break up any lumps
- Add 2 Tbsp of Dizzy Pig “Game On” seasoning to the venison and cook until browned. Mix it in with the bacon, onions, garlic, and mushrooms (Man, the smell will be incredible!)
- Add in the tomato sauce and cook for 5 minutes.
- Stir in 2 tsp of Dizzy Pig “Mediterranean-ish” seasoning (if using) to add a nice herby note to the tomato sauce.
- Stir in the cooked pasta
- Stir in the baby spinach (if using) to give the dish a nice mix of colors
- Add half the shredded cheese, and make sure everything is mixed up well together
- Top with the remaining cheese. I added fresh mozzarella slices on top to give it an extra visual layer vs. just the shredded cheese
- Let it bake for 25-30 minutes, or until cheese is gooey and slightly browned
- Plating – Scoop the Cheesy Venison Pasta Bake into a bowl and garnished with chopped parsley. You can also sprinkle a dash of Dizzy Pig “Mediterranean-ish” for an extra top layer flavor kick