Pepperoni Lasagna

Pepperoni Lasagna

I got the idea for this over-the-top recipe from my very classy and sophisticated grandmother. My straightforwardly-palated grandpa doesn’t care for Italian sausage (it’s that fennel flavor) but beef-only lasagna is kinda boring, so my grandma cleverly and sneakily grinds pepperoni in a food processor and hides it in the sauce with the beef. If you have lasagna at her house you might not realize there is pepperoni in it, just that hers is somehow tastier than most. I am somewhat less classy and sophisticated than my grandmother, so I splash the pepperoni all over the top of my lasagna and turn it into it’s own deliciously pedestrian thing.

Pepperoni Lasagna

So, pepperoni inside, pepperoni on top, extra ricotta in-between, and a good blanket of mozzarella to bring it all together. Brazen? Maybe. Absurdly tasty? Yeah.

Pepperoni Lasagna


Pepperoni Lasagna
makes one 9×13 casserole

-1 5-to-7 oz package pepperoni, divided (leave 1/3 in rounds to decorate the top, dice the rest for inside the lasagna)
-1 medium onion, diced
-1 lb ground beef
-1 24oz jar marinara sauce (use homemade if you have it, but I’m too lazy to make sauce and lasagna in one sitting)
-2 cups water
-2 15oz tubs ricotta (I like whole milk, but you can use skim or one of each)
-2 medium cloves of garlic, minced or grated
-1 tsp dried oregano
-1 tsp dried basil
-2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded and divided into two 1-cup portions
-1 cup parmesan cheese, grated (plus a bit more for serving)
-salt and black pepper, to taste
-1 large egg
-12 flat no-boil lasagna noodles


1. In a large frying pan over medium heat, cook the diced pepperoni until some fat is released and the pepperoni is a bit crispy on the edges. In the fat from the pepperoni, cook the diced onion until translucent and slightly browned.

2. Add the ground beef to the pepperoni and onion and continue to cook over medium heat, breaking up with a wooden spoon or spatula until the beef is thoroughly cooked. Drain the beef/pepperoni/onion mix by tipping the pan at an angle and scooping out the fat.

3. Add the marinara sauce and water to the beef and pepperoni mix. Allow the sauce to come to a simmer, then taste for seasoning and add more salt as necessary. Set the sauce aside until you are ready to assemble the casserole.

4. In a large mixing bowl, combine ricotta cheese, garlic, oregano, basil, 1 cup of the mozzarella cheese, and all of the parmesan cheese. Taste and add salt and black pepper until you are happy with the flavor. Add the egg and stir well to combine.

5. In a 9×13 casserole dish, layer 1 1/2 cups sauce, 4 lasagna noodles, and 1/3 of the cheese mixture. Repeat this pattern three times and finish with the remaining sauce. Top with the reserved cup of shredded mozzarella and reserved pepperoni rounds.

6. At this point, you can choose to bake the casserole for immediate eating or freeze it for later. To bake it now, cover the casserole with aluminum foil, preheat the oven to 375F, and bake it for 40-45 minutes covered, followed by an additional 10-15 minutes uncovered.

7. If you freeze the casserole, cover it with plastic wrap and stash it in the fridge until it’s solid. Pre-lining the casserole dish with foil will make it easy to pop out of the dish after it’s frozen into a brick. Wrap it in a few layers of plastic and label it for future heating and eating.

8. To reheat from frozen, unwrap the casserole and pop it back into it’s original dish if necessary. Cover the casserole dish with foil and bake in a 300F oven for between 2:30 and 3 hours, or until a thermometer inserted in the middle of the casserole reads 165F. To crisp the top, remove the foil and broil the top for a minute or two.

  1. pepperoni in lasagna!! how genius of your grandmother :) this looks absolutely amazing!

    Amy l worthyoursalt — April 5, 2016
    1. Thanks Amy! She's a clever lady :)

      courtney — May 22, 2016
    2. reply
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Real Food Chicken Divan

Real Food Chicken Divan

Sorry for disappearing for a bit there. Pregnancy and family coming to town and, oh, being diagnosed with gestational diabetes derailed my normal food blogging activities. The diabetes diagnosis is kind of surprising and kind of not – on the one hand my mom developed it when she was pregnant with my little sisters, but on the other hand I come from a naturally thin family and I’m typically ambivalent about sweets, so I guess maybe my chances of having it were kind of 50/50. Anyway, it’s ironic how diabetes has managed to increase my food obsession while sucking 95% of the fun out of it. I eat on a timer now, measure my portions, and test my blood four times a day to see if my carefully planned foods are cooperating with my pancreas. I went out to a Mexican restaurant on Wednesday and ate three chips from the bottomless basket. Three. And I cheered when I tested my blood sugar afterward and found out I got away with it.

To be honest, I’m making it sound worse than it is, but I want you to forgive me for being absent, and maybe fawn over me a bit. Pregnant ladies are allowed to ask that I hear.

But now to the topic at hand: chicken divan. I think chicken divan is one of those mutant foods that started out as a 1950’s classy hotel dish and morphed into something very different as it worked it’s way into home kitchens. I grew up eating the cream soup version with generic yellow curry powder, mayo, broccoli, and cheese – it shouldn’t work at all, but it does, and I love it. This recipe is my (successful! IMO) attempt at recreating that nostalgic flavor while omitting the “cream of” soups. I thought about getting rid of the mayo too, but it just isn’t the same without it.

This casserole freezes awesomely and reheating is straightforward: right out of the freezer and into a low oven for about two hours. The end result is spicy, creamy, crunchy, and delightfully melty-mushy in the way only sauce covered, cooked-forever broccoli is (it’s a thing, I swear).

I can totally have this for a diabetes dinner too, with liiiiike a half cup of brown rice. Yaaay…?!

Real Food Chicken Divan

Real Food Chicken Divan
makes 6-8 servings, or one 9×13 casserole


-1 lb. chicken breast, cooked and diced or shredded
-1/4 cup butter
-1/4 cup flour
-1 Tbsp yellow or madras curry powder (I like the hot kind, but use what you prefer)
-2 cups chicken broth
-1/2 cup sour cream
-2 tsp lemon juice
-1/4 cup mayonnaise (Hellmann’s is my favorite here)
-salt and pepper, to taste
-1 lb bag frozen broccoli florets (if you use fresh instead, add 1/2 cup extra broth to the sauce)
-2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
-panko breadcrumbs tossed with a bit of melted butter or olive oil and a dash of paprika


1. Cook your chicken (if it isn’t already cooked). I like to poach mine gently in salted water or chicken broth, dice it up, and use the cooking liquid (with a little bouillon if necessary) as the broth to make the sauce.

2. In a sauce pan or skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Add flour and curry powder and stir well. Add chicken broth and whisk until the sauce is thickened.

3. Remove the sauce from the heat and add sour cream, lemon juice, mayo, and salt and pepper to taste.

4. In your casserole dish, spread broccoli (leave it frozen if you’re freezing the casserole, microwave and drain it first if you plan to serve immediately), layer the chicken, and pour the sauce over everything. Blanket with cheese (!) and top with breadcrumbs.

5. Cover with plastic and freeze for up to 3 months (brick style is smart!), or bake immediately for 30 minutes in a 350F oven.

6. To cook from frozen, remove plastic and cover the casserole with aluminum foil. Bake in a 300F oven (covered! don’t forget or it will dry out) for about two and a half hours, or until a thermometer inserted in the center reaches 165F, removing the foil for the final 30 minutes of baking. Serve over white or brown rice.


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