I have MTV’s “Teen Mom” to thank for introducing me to the idea of pizza-inspired pasta. As simple as the concept may seem, why had this culinary creation never crossed my mind? My version here is a spin on baked rigatoni, and it’s loaded with all of my favorite pizza toppings, including pepperoni, green bell peppers and Italian sausage, so this is not for the faint of heart (or meat). But the real beauty here is that exactly like a pizza, this pasta can be customized to your preferences with any pizza topping imaginable. If you’d put it on a pizza, you can put it in pizza pasta!
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente according to the package directions. Drain the pasta and set aside.
While the pasta cooks, add the olive oil to a large heavy-bottomed pot set over medium-low heat. Once the oil is warm, add the onions, bell peppers and a pinch each of salt and pepper and cook, stirring constantly, until the onions are translucent, about 8 minutes. Add the sausage and cook, breaking apart the sausage with a spatula, until browned and cooked throughout, about 10 minutes.
Reduce the heat to low, add the tomato sauce then add the cooked pasta and 1/2 cup of the pepperoni to the pot; stir to combine.
Transfer half of the pasta to a 9-by-13-inch baking dish, top with half of the mozzarella, then top with the remaining pasta, followed by the remaining mozzarella, then the remaining 1/4 cup pepperoni.
Bake the pasta until the cheese is melted, about 15 minutes. Remove the baked pasta from the oven and serve.