Cavatini has been a family staple recipe since we first married. A lot of people have eaten this main dish from my kitchen over the years. We have served it to company, made it as a entrée for youth camps, and given it away for meals to new moms. This is our all-time easiest and favorite recipe. It only uses a handful of ingredients but it is rich on taste and super kid-friendly. This is my go-to dish when I need to take a meal to someone without advanced notice–or I get unexpected company that shows up at my door. Everyone loves it. The recipe makes a lot. It’s just fabulous comfort food. Serve it with a salad, garlic bread and brownies and you’re all set.
I use ground beef, pepperoni, pre-made spaghetti sauce, rotini noodles, parmesan cheese and mozzarella cheese. That’s it. The recipe is inspired from a dish that used to be served at the Pizza Hut salad bars during the 70s and 80s. But I really didn’t have a recipe.
You can add onions, mushrooms, peppers & garlic if you like, or use spaghetti sauce that already has it. You can omit the ground beef and use spaghetti sauce with ground meat or Italian sausage — or skip it entirely. But I really don’t recommend cutting out the pepperoni because that’s what gives this casserole its zip. If you want more kick, add 1/8 tsp. crushed red pepper. If you want more seasoning, add 1 tsp. each of oregano, basil, parsley, and garlic salt.
I initially posted this recipe in July 2012. The pictures were of a poor quality so I’ve updated them so you can get a better idea of what this dish actually looks like. If you’re looking for a wonderful Italian main dish that’s super easy to make, economical and kid-friendly, then I highly recommend Cavatini. You won’t be disappointed.
Cavatini has always been one of our favorite main dish meals.
Cavatini has lots of savory ground beef and pepperoni in spaghetti sauce with noodles and cheese galore!
While I normally use rotini noodles I had miniature farfelle noodles (bow-ties) on hand so that’s what I used for these pictures.
Here’s what I did:
Brown your ground beef. I use 90%- 93% lean. Drain if you need to.
Boil and cook your noodles. I substituted miniature farfelle for the rotini I usually use in this dish.
To the beef in the pan, add pepperoni, cooked noodles, and spaghetti sauce. Stir to combine.
Sprinkle with parmesan cheese. I prefer real grated parmesan cheese but the canned stuff will work. Cover with foil (or the noodles will dry out).
Bake until bubbly–about 30-45 minutes depending on how much you make and the size of your casserole dish. Remove from oven and sprinkle top with 8-oz. shredded mozzarella cheese. Return to oven for about 5-10 minutes until cheese melts.
Here’s the finished product. Don’t let the casserole stay in the oven so long that the cheese burns on top! (I actually had this in the oven about 3 minutes too long!) 🙁
I made a double batch of this recipe so I used one jar of spaghetti sauce with olive and capers, and the other had spinach and cheese. The Cavatini turned out phenomenally! You can use ANY flavor of spaghetti sauce you like.
This shows the interior of the casserole. You will love the way this casserole tastes!
Here’s the recipe.
(My concoction, but inspired by a dish Pizza Hut used to serve at their salad bars in the 70s and 80s)
- 1 lb. ground beef, cooked and drained
- 1 32-oz. jars Prego spaghetti sauce
- 8-oz. box Rotini noodles, cooked and drained
- 3-oz. pkg. pepperoni
- Parmesan cheese
- 8-oz. Mozzarella cheese, shredded
- Mix cooked beef, pepperoni, noodles and spaghetti sauce.
- Place in a 9×13” baking dish that’s been sprayed with cooking spray.
- Sprinkle generously with Parmesan cheese.
- Cover with foil.
- Bake about 30-45 minutes at 350°, or until mixture is bubbly.
- Sprinkle with Mozzarella cheese and heat an additional 5 minutes until cheese is melted.
The pepperoni gives this Italian dish a nice kick of flavor.
We have served this simple main dish to hundreds of people over the years and without fail, everyone has raved over it!
Cavatini is the real deal! Your family will love it.
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