I love the taste of pizza, but I have a confession to make. I can't stand the crust. I know many people think the crust is the best part, but I am not among them. And more often than not, I'm one of "those" that eats all the way up to the edge of the crust, and stops there. What a waste! Until I figured out I could have all the great flavors of pizza but with another carb, one of my favorite carbs, replacing the crust - pasta!
That's what I've done with this casserole. Mixed in all my favorite pizza toppings - sausage, pepperoni, bacon, and peppers, and combined them all with pasta, cheese, and pizza sauce. It's a casserole that really does taste like a pie I'd get from my local pizzeria, but without any of that blasted crust. It may be the only way I eat "pizza" from now on.
1 pound of short pasta of any kind (rigatoni, penne, etc.)
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 pound sausage, removed from casing
1 bell pepper (any color), diced
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
4 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
1/2 pound pepperoni, chopped
2 cans (15 ounces) pizza sauce
3 cups mozzarella cheese
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil. Add the tablespoon of salt and the pasta. Cook for about 7 minutes, until the pasta is al dente or just under. Drain and set aside.
While pasta is cooking, heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, sausage, bell pepper, and Italian seasoning. Cook until sausage is no longer pink, stirring often.
In a large mixing bowl combine the pasta, sausage mixture, bacon, pepperoni, and pizza sauce. Stir well to mix and pour into a 9" x 13" casserole dish. Distribute the mozzarella cheese evenly over top.
Cover the dish with foil and place in the preheated oven for 30 minutes. Then remove foil and continue cooking for another 15 - 30 minutes, until the cheese has started to brown.