The Best Casserole

I'm a huge fan of the casserole. In general, I love the process of putting a few key ingredients together in a pan, baking said pan, and coming out with a pan of perfectly melded flavors.

We weren't a big casserole family when I was younger, but there was one specific casserole that my mom would make that I would look forward to each and every winter. It has a specific flavor and texture that I couldn't replicate no matter how many times I tried… turns out I was doing it wrong. I got the real recipe from my mom a few years ago, and have made it a few times since.

neapolitan casserole

Noodles, tomato, bacon, ground beef, parmesan cheese, and a few veggies come together to make something that is so much greater than the sum of its parts. I used extra-lean ground beef and center-cut bacon, but ground turkey and turkey bacon could be substituted and no flavor would be sacrificed.

Neapolitan Casserole

Adapted from the Antoinette Pope Cookbook

Ingredients (serves 8)

  • 1 lb. ground beef or turkey
  • 1 lb. whole wheat pasta, cooked and kept hot
  • 1 6 oz. can tomato paste
  • 5-6 strips bacon, cut into small pieces
  • 1 green pepper, diced
  • 1 sweet onion, diced
  • 1 cup mushrooms, sliced (I left these out)
  • parmesan cheese
  • 1 tsp. oregano
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 c. water
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder


Preheat oven to 350*. Heat a large frying pan and add the pieces of bacon. Cook until crispy, and add the onion and peppers.

Cook until onions are translucent and peppers are softened. Add the mushrooms and cook a few minutes.

Add the ground beef or turkey. Cook until meat is cooked through.

In a casserole dish, put 1/3 of the cooked pasta, 1/2 the meat, and a generous sprinkle of parmesan.

Repeat with another third of the pasta, the rest of the meat, and more parmesan. End with the pasta.

In a separate vessel, mix together the tomato paste, water, and baking soda. Be careful, as it will froth up! Pour the tomato mixture on top of the meat and noodles and bake for about 25 minutes.

Top each serving with parmesan cheese and enjoy!

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neapolitan casserole

I know, you can see the reflection of the ceiling fan in my spoon. But I had to show you, grated parmesan cheese really works best here. My mom always used what we called "shaky cheese", or more commonly known as the shelf-stable parmesan found most commonly in a green can.

neapolitan casserole

It truly never ceases to amaze me the comfort I find in replicating recipes from my childhood. I'm ready to snuggle up for the night and relax! I just wish my mom could bring me a mug of warm vanilla milk… oh well.


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17 Responses to The Best Casserole

  1. Lara says:

    Would you believe that I’ve never made a real casserole?! I’ll bookmark this one and have it be my first 🙂

  2. Hallie says:

    We called it sprinkle cheese! Awesome.

  3. This reminds me of my mom’s goulash. I love all of the flavors in here!
    Becki’s Whole Life´s last blog post ..Avocado Pico de Gallo

  4. mom says:

    so weird… i made this last week after a loooong hiatus.

    Love you, sweetie!

  5. Mara – that sounds awesome!
    Jenn@slim-shoppin´s last blog post ..Future Food Network Star?

  6. Hezzi-D says:

    This looks delicious! I bet the combination of bacon, ground beef, and veggies is amazing!

  7. Biz says:

    That is very similar to a dish my Mom made growing up, but she called it “slumgulion.” It had elbow macaroni, beef, green pepper (ONIONS!). I am sure my Mom made it to stretch out beef for our family – and now Hannah loves it to. In fact, whenever Hannah goes to my Mom’s house she asks her to make it – with extra onions!
    Biz´s last blog post ..No Excuses – 19 in 3

  8. Amy says:

    Mara – if you are still counting Carbs you should try Dreamfields Pasta. It’s all we eat and you KNOW I’m picky about my pasta. It’s ok’ed for diabetics and the net carbs is only 4-5 per serving. It has good texture and when cooked to al dente is as good as Barilla or other Italian brands.. just a thought!!
    I’m with you on casseroles, love ’em. So will give this one a whirl soon.
    Thanks for the inspiration.
    Amy´s last blog post ..Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies with Chia Seeds

  9. This looks like such a throwback to my childhood. My mom didn’t make many casseroles, but this is similar to a dish she made, and my brother and I used to fight over the “crusty part” on the top. Have a great day Mara.
    Roz@weightingfor50´s last blog post ..Making the ordinary, extraordinary

  10. Carole says:

    Hi there. The current Food on Friday on Carole’s Chatter is all about favourite foods from childhood. I do hope you link this lovely one in. This is the link . Please do pop back to check out some of the other links. Have a great week.

  11. Carole says:

    Mara, thank you for linking this in to Food on Friday. We are now getting a super collection of dishes we loved as kids together. I hope you have stopped by some of the other links to check them out!

    Ps I have just signed up to follow your blog. A follow back to Carole’s Chatter would be wonderful – or have you already followed? Cheers

    Ps If you would like email reminders of future Food on Fridays, just pop by and comment and include your email – I won’t publish it – and the reminder will be by bcc so it will remain private
    Carole´s last blog post ..Fishing is a real skill….

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