Deep Dish Pizza Casserole – Lightened Up

Tonight Ella had a class after school.  She is taking a drama/acting class at our town’s cultural arts center.  I had promised Taylor that we would go to the little coffee shop next door and she could get a treat and we would work on her homework.  When she finished we ran over to the gym so I could get my workout in.  We had such a nice time just the two of us.  It’s funny how much different my girls are when it’s just one of them.  I feel like I appreciate them more when we have one-on-one time.  I feel like they might appreciate me more, too.

When we got home Ella told me all about her class.  She got to “ride in a cab” and her character was really bossy which she really liked.  So we have that going for us:-).

This recipe is from a Cooking Light cookbook that I picked up called “5 Ingredient 15 Minute Cookbook.” What’s not to like about that title??? The book is from around 8 or 9 years ago and it is interesting to see what Cooking Light was doing back then. The big thing that I noticed is that there wasn’t the emphasis on whole grains. Today they would probably have made this dish with a whole wheat crust but all the pasta and breads in this cookbook use white flour. No brown rice, it’s all white. I just thought that was interesting. I guess the focus was on calories and fat content…..way back in 2003.

Have you made the switch to whole grains? I have tried as much as I can, but I have also told myself I am not going to stress out too much if I make something with white flour. Almost all the bread that we eat is whole wheat. The new white whole wheat flour is really good and I have found that it is just as good for you as regular whole wheat. Trader Joe’s and King Arthur both have really good white whole wheat flour available.

I try to do the whole wheat pasta (and I like it) but my kids get mad at me so I compromised and now I use the Barilla Plus pasta.  It is really good and they think it’s normal white pasta – WIN.

I have also found that brown jasmine rice is really good.  It doesn’t taste as nutty as some of the other brown rice varieties.  I found a huge bag (for really cheap) at our local Asian market, but I have seen it at Trader Joe’s, too.

This pizza is made with a regular crust. You could certainly do a whole wheat crust to make this healthier.

I added some more cheese and some crumbled bacon to this recipe.  I realize that added a few calories, but I think it was needed. The original recipe didn’t call for lean ground beef and that is what I used (so I guess you could call that a swap.) Whole Foods had 90/10 on sale last week so Jim came home with three packages of it.

This was really really yummy. It was comforting and everyone liked it a lot. You can do many different variations with this, too. I think next time I might get some Italian Turkey Sausage or Pepperoni to throw in with the ground beef.  We also put some onions on top of the meat along with the crumbled bacon. If you have a slice of it with a salad it’s a pretty good choice for a lightened up meal (that doesn’t taste like it was lightened up.)


Deep Dish Pizza Casserole - Lightened Up
Recipe type: Main
  • 1 pound ground round (I used 90/10 ground beef)
  • 1 15 oz can chunky Italian Style Tomato sauce (I used some good marinara)
  • Cooking Spray
  • 1 10 ounce can refrigerated pizza crust dough
  • 6 slices part-skim mozzarella cheese, divided (I doubled this)
  1. Cook meat in a medium nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until browned, stirring until it crumbles. Drain, if necessary and return to skillet. Add tomato sauce and cook until heated.
  2. Spray a 9X13 baking dish and unroll pizza dough. Press into the bottom and halfway up the sides of the dish (go easy on the sides or the dish or it will be hard to get your crust to stick to the sides.) Line the bottom of the crust with 5-6 slices or mozzarella cheese. Top with the meat mixture.
  3. Bake uncovered at 425 degrees for 12 minutes. Top with remaining cheese and bake an additional 5 minutes or until the crust is browned and cheese melts. Cool 5 minutes before serving.



  1. Words Of Deliciousness says:

    Delicious, sounds like a easy and quick meal. I love it.

  2. I have to say I agree with your girls about pasta…whole wheat pasta just doesn’t do it for me. I’ll have to try the Barilla plus though!

  3. I’m afaid I just don’t like wholemeal pasta or rice, But your lighter pizza casserole sounds wonderful.

  4. I need some lighter recipes Thanks…I’d love for you to share this at my “Link & Greet” party this weekend @CountryMommaCooks……have a wonderful day!

  5. Sixsistersstuff says:

    This looks so delicious! Thanks for linking up to Strut Your Stuff Saturday. We hope you come back and share more of your ideas. -The Sisters


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