This is one of my favorite recipes. It can either be cooked in a crock pot or in the oven. It is so versatile, I usually use what I have on hand for the "toppings". When I make spaghetti sauce, I always double my recipe and freeze the left over half in a quart freezer bag for use in dishes like this. Serve it with some crusty Italian bread and a salad and dinner is ready.
1/2 to 1 lb Italian sausage (casings removed) or ground beef or a combination of both
1/2 large onion, chopped
1 jar spaghetti sauce (or about 3 1/2 cups of homemade sauce)
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 large can black olives, sliced
1 can sliced mushrooms (or use fresh)
3/4 of a 6oz package of pepperoni
4 oz shredded cheddar cheese
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
3/4 box of rigatoni (I don't use the entire box because we like a lot of sauce)
Brown sausage or ground beef and onions in skillet and drain very well. Add spaghetti sauce and let simmer for as long as you have time for (up to 30 minutes).
Meanwhile, cook rigatoni pasta al dente and drain. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread about 3/4 cup of sauce on the bottom of a 9 x 13 inch pan (just enough sauce to cover the bottom thinly). Cover sauce with 1/2 of the pasta.
Cover pasta with 1/2 of the remaining sauce. Sprinkle half of the bell pepper, olives, mushrooms and both cheeses on top. Layer with 1/2 of the pepperonis. Repeat all layers starting again with sauce and ending with pepperonis on top. Make sure all pasta is covered or it will get crunchy.
Bake in oven for about 35 min (until pepperonis and cheese look done). Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and return to oven just long enough for Parmesan to melt.
If one of your "furry children" is in the kitchen helping, you may need more pepperonis. Funny how Dash was the only one "helping" me out. He loves to be in the kitchen with me.
If you decide to make this in the crock-pot, cook on low for 3 to 4 hours instead of the oven. I hope you enjoy it! (This recipe was adapted from the Fix It and Forget It cookbook from a recipe on p.166 titled "Slow-Cooker Pizza" I love this cookbook)