Today’s recipe, Gluten-Free Italian Casserole, is my adaptation of a recipe from a decades-old cookbook from the church my husband grew up in. I’ve shared before that church and community cookbooks have always been my favorites and that fact didn’t change when I went gluten free.
If these kinds of cookbooks have always been your favorites, too, they still can be. Quite a few recipes that are included in such cookbooks are naturally gluten free.
Other recipes simply need a substitution of a gluten-free version of a key ingredient, as the Italian Casserole recipe that I’m sharing today did. I just flipped through the source cookbook for this recipe once again and re-confirmed that both statements are true.
I also took note of how many recipes I’ve already made from this cookbook (my modifications are noted right on my copy) and how many of those adapted recipes that I still need to share with you all.
The original recipe for the Italian Casserole was “fine” before I went gluten free, but even then I wanted a simpler recipe with slightly fewer ingredients so I used spaghetti/pasta sauce instead of the combination of tomato sauce, tomato paste, onions, and spices. I also made some changes based on our personal preferences—such as using only a fourth of the pepperoni slices and usually opting for shredded mozzarella cheese instead of mozzarella slices.
Too much pepperoni can lead to indigestion (and we didn’t need that much meat) and shredded mozzarella does a better job of getting in the “nooks and crannies” of the pasta than sliced mozzarella does.
Years later when I went gluten free, all I needed to do to make this recipe safe for Son and me was to substitute gluten-free pasta and ensure that all the other ingredients in the recipe were gluten free. That was quite easy to do and the results were as delicious as always, so here’s the recipe as I make it today with notes on making slight variations.
I hope you’ll enjoy this recipe. It’s a great one for a large family to enjoy or to take to a potluck event. For the two of us, it can last quite a few days!
Therefore, if you wish to make the recipe for two people, I recommend splitting it and freezing half of it versus eating it at every meal until it’s gone. After all, I want you to still love this recipe after you make it the first time!
Oh, before I forget, I’ll share a bit of a side story on this recipe. When I made this casserole a while back, I made it specifically so I could photograph it and share it with you all.
I planned to have enough daylight left to snap a few quick photos before we ate our dinner. Alas, I couldn’t locate my camera.
Daylight faded quickly and I was still looking. Frustrated I posted on Facebook:
“We won’t be having dinner until I find my camera. Guess this occurrence will force me to buy a bigger, more professional camera, which would be much harder to misplace! LOL and sigh. I’m hungry! #foodbloggerproblems”
Friends, including quite a few food bloggers, were quick to offer encouragement and commiseration as many had experience with misplaced cameras. A half-hour later, I found my camera and posted an update:
“Found it!!! In the 5-gallon crock in the hall that holds scarves, etc. I had temporarily placed it there when trying to get good photos of Sonny in the snow last week. Didn’t really get a good one, but here it is. Btw, in the process of looking, I found a missing sock and missing sunglasses and fixed a drawer that was out of alignment! LOL Thanks, everyone!”
Because I hadn’t gotten a great photo of Sonny (perhaps I would have gotten a far better one if I’d been out in the snow with him and Mr. GFE earlier?), I’d stuck the camera back in the closest receptacle—the crock—hoping for another opportunity. Then I’d forgotten all about it.
By the time I found my camera the evening I made this casserole, dinner was very late and the only lighting for photos was, well, unnatural. Still … I promise this gluten-free Italian Casserole makes for a beautiful presentation and is likely to become a favorite of family and friends who love all things saucy, cheesy, and Italian!
More Gluten-Free Italian Style Recipes
~ 30 Best Gluten-Free Pizza Crusts from Gluten Free Easily (gfe)
~ Antipasto Salad with Easy Italian Dressing from Cook Eat Paleo
~ Chicken Cacciatore from Everyday Gluten-Free Gourmet
~ Easy and Good Lasagna from Gluten Free Easily (gfe)
~ Flourless, Low-Carb Pizza from gfe
~ Italian Pasta Salad from Gluten-Free Spinner
~ Over 30 Gluten-Free Pizza Crusts and Other Ways to Get Your Pizza Fix from gfe
~ Stuffed Spaghetti Squash Lasagna Style from Celiac in the City
~ Zucchini Ravioli from In Johnna’s Kitchen
Gluten-Free Italian Casserole Recipe
Gluten-Free Italian Casserole. Ooey gooey Italian goodness! Sort of like a combination of lasagna and pizza. Such outstanding comfort food! Add a salad and wine and your deluxe meal is ready. If you prefer not to use ready-made pasta sauce, you can use your own homemade sauce or you can use the following ingredients to make a quick pasta sauce: 1 medium onion, chopped; 1 tbsp oil (I use extra virgin olive oil or coconut oil); 1 jar/can tomato sauce (15 ounces); 2 cans tomato paste (each 6 ounces); dash of ground oregano; and dash of ground basil. In a large skillet, sauté chopped onion in oil. Add tomato sauce, tomato paste, oregano, and basil, mixing well. I say “about 4 cups” on the pasta amount because I’ve gotten away with a slightly lesser amount when necessary. I always precook my pepperoni slices a bit in the microwave and blot them with a paper towel to remove the grease because although I love pepperoni, I don’t like the amount of grease that pepperoni can add to recipes when it’s not precooked.
Gluten-Free Italian Casserole
Gluten-Free Italian Casserole. Ooey gooey Italian goodness! Sort of like a combination of lasagna and pizza. Such outstanding comfort food! Add a salad and wine and your deluxe meal is ready.
If you prefer not to use ready-made pasta sauce, you can use your own homemade sauce or you can use the following ingredients to make a quick pasta sauce: 1 medium onion, chopped; 1 tbsp oil (I use extra virgin olive oil or coconut oil); 1 jar/can tomato sauce (15 ounces); 2 cans tomato paste (each 6 ounces); dash of ground oregano; and dash of ground basil.
In a large skillet, sauté chopped onion in oil. Add tomato sauce, tomato paste, oregano, and basil, mixing well. I say “about 4 cups” on the pasta amount because I’ve gotten away with a slightly lesser amount when necessary. I always precook my pepperoni slices a bit in the microwave and blot them with a paper towel to remove the grease because although I love pepperoni, I don’t like the amount of grease that pepperoni can add to recipes when it’s not precooked.
Your story about the misplaced camera cracked me up! This recipe looks scrumptious! I will definitely give it a try.
Hope you are doing well. I’m looking forward to warmer weather. 😀
Hi Sherri–Great to see you, my dear! I’m always happy to provide a little entertainment while sharing a recipe. 😉
This casserole is a pretty delicious main dish for sure. I recommend that you make it when you have several hungry folks to feed or split and freeze part of it if you don’t.
I’m right there with you on looking forward to warmer weather! Bring on the sun, capris, and flip flops. 🙂 Hugs,
Sandi Gaertner (@sandigtweets) says
Wow, this looks like the ultimate family food. I think this can easily be made ahead then just put in the oven the next day for dinner. Perfect for volleyball nights so the males in the family don’t starve when we are home late.
Sandi–This IS the ultimate family food! 🙂 Yes, it’s like lasagna or most casseroles as you can make it ahead and it tastes even better the next day. This recipe is definitely the kind that “sticks to your ribs,” so the guys do love it. 😉
Nom, nom, nom! This casserole will be a hit. Our favorite flavors and easy, too. Please don’t tell Sonny that dogs Mac & Cheese are trying to stay cool in our record temperatures- it was 90 degrees today!
Vicki Montague - The Free From Fairy says
You have my sympathy on the camera front!! Often happens to me and it is so frustrating! Last night when I was making tea I had the most amazing light so got loads of great snaps…most of the time they are dreadful because I am making the food to be consumed immediately by the family!!!
Thanks, Vicki. So glad to know I’m not alone! Yay for the wonder of amazing light and having the time to take photos when it comes. 🙂 The family is hungry and waiting for photos is no fun. 😉
Shirley, this looks yummy! I’m afraid I’ll have to do it with homemade sauce though, for our daughter’s sake. We haven’t been able to find a prepared sauce on the market that she can tolerate. She has a great many things to avoid, and now gluten, also, along with me. Maybe I can put the pepperoni on one end, so I can have a little! I will have to think about that one!
I enjoyed your story about looking for your camera! Your dog is beautiful!
Hi Jeanne–Thanks so much regarding the recipe, my sily camera story, and our dog! 🙂 Homemade sauce is a wonderful thing, even when one doesn’t have additional food intolerances. Did you see the way to make a simple sauce for this recipe in the notes? Perhaps your daughter might be able to tolerate those ingredients. This recipe is really good with pepperoni. If that’s on your daughter’s forbidden list, perhaps you can simply top your servings with precooked pepperoni right before you eat. 😉 Hope you can make the recipe happen for you all!
Shirley! I made the Italian Casserole and it was wonderful! Wunderbar! Fantastico! I took it to a potluck dinner at church. People liked it, and there wasn’t much left! I used one can of prepared gluten free pasta sauce, and made up the rest, using tomato paste and tomato sauce, and a few spices. I used Barilla penne pasta and fresh mozzarella. I didn’t get to use the pepperoni – that’s for next time! Thanks for the yummy recipe! It’s a keeper! My husband and daughter loved it too!
Hi Jeanne–Thanks so much for reporting back! So glad you loved this recipe and found a pasta sauce that works for your daughter, but still managed to improvise as needed. 🙂 Hehe on the pepperoni being for next time. It’s always good to have something to look forward to. 😉
Thanks again for taking the time to comment with your review, Jeanne. 🙂 Hugs,
Ina Gawne says
Shirley – this is my kind of dish! Sounds yummy delicious, wonderful comfort food!
Yay, Ina! I’ve said many times that we share a love for very similar recipes. 😉
That looks great Shirley! I love church cookbooks too — they remind me of the great food at church fellowship dinners when I was growing up.
Thanks so much, Genie! Yes, very true. So many of the recipes I loved when I was growing up are shared in church cookbooks. They do bring back tons of memories of church picnics and dinners and many family events as well. 🙂
Shirley, my similar recipe is very popular with my family and others I have served it too. Your post reminded me of that. I just wish that I could eat it. And congratulations, it was the most popular entry at Gluten-Free Wednesdays last week!
Woohoo! How exciting, Linda! I think that this recipe, the photo, and its overall popularity speak to the “power of cheese”! LOL, but true. Granted there are other factors like the sauce and the pasta, but it’s hard to resist the cheesy goodness most of all. We need a dairy-free alternative for sure. Perhaps we could do something with cashew cream cheese? 😉
GiGi Eats says
OH MY!! THAT looks phenomenal! Aw man. Cheeessseeeeee!! Pepperoni! Mmmmm!
Hi GiGi–Yeah, that’s pretty much it! 😉 Thanks for commenting! 🙂
Yum! I’m going to try this with Daiya cheese! Thanks, Shirley.
Hi Mary–Great to see you! 🙂 I think this recipe will work fine with Daiya. You might even use less Daiya as some of the readers have used less cheese successfully. Personally, I usually use less Daiya than I would of dairy cheese in recipes. Anyway, enjoy!
I made this whole recipe for just the two of us: my thought was “What Am I Going to Do With All of This? No problem: my husband said I’ll gladly eat this every night until it’s gone! Honestly, this is the best gf pasta dish I have ever made! I’m sharing it with Gluten Free Erie Pa. at our May meeting.
Hi Barb–Oh, you have made my day, dear! I’m so very happy this was a hit with you and your hubby. 🙂 I hope your support group members will love it just as much!
Thanks so much for taking the time to comment with such positive feedback!
Thank you for sharing! I made it for dinner tonight and it was a big hit! I’m sure I’ll make it again soon. 🙂
Hi Valley–Thanks so much for taking the time to leave this comment and welcome to gfe! 🙂 I’m so very happy that this recipe was a hit at your house!
I’m confused do I need to cook the pasta before adding to the meat and sauce? Making for a dish to pass and don’t want to mess it up my husband thinks I need to cook the pasta and the directions sound like you don’t please let me know
Shirley Braden says
Hi Brianna–Welcome to gfe! 🙂 Yes, as indicated in the ingredients listing, the pasta should be cooked. Hope you all love this recipe and that the folks you share it with do, too!