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Baked Cavatini for #SundaySupper

Baked Cavatini | Magnolia Days

Mediocrity and minimum. Those two words seem tied together in a way. What elevates so-so to great is going above and beyond. My parents taught me the value of doing the best that can be done in any situation and not simply the barest minimum.

It is something that shines through especially in food and cooking. A perfect example is the story behind Baked Cavatini.

The story starts over 30 years ago. It was shortly after I was married and we had just moved from a terrible apartment after only six months in that awful place. Anyway, down the street from our new home was a national pizza chain restaurant we would frequent often.

It was convenient and both of us loved pizza. Our favorite at the time was double cheese and double pepperoni.

Baked Cavatini | Magnolia Days

One night I was in the mood for something different. I ordered a pasta dish because the menu said it was filled with pepperoni and covered in cheese. It was so good. It became something I ordered regularly. Then as time went on and things went downhill.

I ordered it one evening and about a third of the way through I noticed pepperoni was missing. So I brought it to the attention of the waitress and she took the pasta back to the kitchen.

The cook or manager brought back the dish. She brought it back with attitude too. She said, and very proudly I might add, “I know there is pepperoni in it because I put the required two pieces in it”. Then she proceeded to stand over me and watch while I fished around and found those two pieces just to prove her point.

So much for it being “filled” with pepperoni. It turned into a mediocre dish because only the bare minimum was put into it.

Baked Cavatini | Magnolia Days

From then on that meal became our meaning or reference to minimum. Just the other day we left somewhere disappointed (not food related) and when we got in the car my husband said “but it had two pieces of pepperoni” and I busted out laughing.

About my baked cavatini: It is a mixture of three kinds of short pasta, tomato meat sauce, and pepperoni. It’s put into a casserole dish and covered with mozzarella, parmesan, and more pepperoni. Then it is baked until bubbly and the cheese has melted.

The good thing about making this at home is you can put as much or as little pepperoni in it to your liking. I used a whole six ounce package.

Baked Cavatini | Magnolia Days

What wine to pair with a baked cavatini? I paired it with Gallo Family Vineyards Chardonnay and Merlot. I’ve always felt Chardonnay is a bold enough white wine to stand up to hearty pasta. It definitely pairs nicely with the cheeses.

I consider Merlot a flexible red wine and pairs with a wide range of food especially rich tomato sauces.

Baked Cavatini | Magnolia Days

Memories are made at meals. Some of those memories have special meaning. That meaning could be a treasured family moment, something funny, or relate to a completely separate thing. Sunday Supper is proud to partner with Gallo Family Vineyards to share the stories behind recipes along with wine pairings for them.

Scroll down to see what my fellow Sunday Supper tastemakers have made for the occasion. Also look at Gallo’s Meals with Meaning blog post to see their story.

Gallo Family Vineyards LogoMore on Gallo Family Vineyards: Follow them on social media to keep up the latest on the company, vineyards, and their wines. Here are quick links to GFV’s profiles: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube. Their website has lots of information on Gallo Family Vineyards wines plus wine pairing notes and a handy store locator.

Baked Cavatini | Magnolia Days
3.87 from 23 votes

Baked Cavatini

Baked Cavatini is a hearty pasta dish filled with three types of pasta, tomato meat sauce, pepperoni, and topped with cheese and more pepperoni.
Course Main
Cuisine Italian
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Servings 8 to 10 servings
Author Renee


  • 12 ounces uncooked short pasta I used rigate, casarecce, and shells
  • 1/2 pound ground beef
  • 5 cups marinara sauce
  • 6 ounces sliced pepperoni divided
  • 12 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 3 ounces grated parmesan cheese


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly coat the inside of a 3 quart casserole dish with olive oil (or other cooking oil).
  2. Cook pasta according to package instructions. Drain and return to the pot or place in a large bowl.
  3. While the pasta is cooking, brown ground beef in a medium saucepan. Break it up with a spoon or spatula while browning to crumble it. Drain grease from beef and return to saucepan.
  4. Add marinara sauce to the beef and stir to combine. Bring to a simmer over medium heat.
  5. Pour meat sauce over cooked pasta. Add most of the pepperoni, reserving some slices for the top. Stir until combined. Transfer mixture to prepared casserole dish and spread evenly in the dish.
  6. Sprinkle mozzarella cheese evenly over pasta mixture. Sprinkle parmesan over mozzarella. Place remaining slices of pepperoni on top.
  7. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until it begins to bubble and the cheese has melted and is lightly brown on the edges.

Recipe Notes

Baked Cavatini is a hearty pasta dish filled with three types of pasta, tomato meat sauce, pepperoni, and topped with cheese and more pepperoni.

What meal has a special meaning to you? Take a look at these by Sunday Supper contributors and join me in reading the story behind each one along with Gallo Family Vineyards wine pairings:

Savory Recipes:

Sweet Recipes:

Sunday Supper MovementJoin the #SundaySupper conversation on twitter on Sunday! We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7:00 pm ET. Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. To get more great Sunday Supper Recipes, visit our website or check out our Pinterest board.

Would you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement? It’s easy. You can sign up by clicking here: Sunday Supper Movement.

Disclosure: Compensation was provided by Gallo Family Vineyards via Sunday Supper, LLC. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author, and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of Gallo Family Vineyards.

Recipe Rating

Danny F.

Saturday 7th of September 2019

I make mine in 2 layers pasta cover with sauce pepperoni cheese repeat 250 about an hour


Wednesday 26th of June 2019

This dish looks delicious so I’m gonna try it. I’m new at this cooking thing so take it easy on me. The pasta listed - does it matter what paste is used and is it 12 oz. total pasta?

Katie Moseman

Wednesday 26th of June 2019

12 ounces total of your favorite short pasta like shells, macaroni, cavatappi, etc. (The opposite of short pasta would be long pasta like spaghetti or linguini.)

Michele @ Flavor Mosaic

Monday 16th of March 2015

This looks so comforting! I love that it is easy and delicious.

Dorothy at Shockingly Delicious

Monday 16th of March 2015

Cracking up at the 2 pieces of pepperoni! I say the more pepperoni, the merrier, in everything!


Monday 16th of March 2015

Your story made me laugh out loud. That's ridiculous hahah. But at least you got a good recipe (and inside joke) out of it!