This is the version we like best. It has shortcuts, but it is still as good as my all day simmered version. In a large skillet, brown 1 pound ground beef and 2 links of Mild Italian sausage with casings removed. Drain after the meat is brown.

On a cookie sheet, arrange a single layer of sliced pepperoni. I used about a third of a 16 ounce package. Cook at 350° for 12 minutes. Remove pepperoni from pan and allow to cool. Drain the oil from the pan and add 6-8 ounces of fresh, sliced mushrooms. DO NOT SALT! Bake 20-25 minutes until crisp. Let them cool in the pan.

In your large skillet with the browned and drained meats, add 1 can of petite, diced tomatoes (I prefer low sodium) and 1 can of Hunt’s Zesty & Spicy pasta sauce

To the mixture, add:

  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 Tbls onion powder
  • 1 Tbls garlic powder
  • 1 Tbls dried oregano
  • 1 Tbls + 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp fennel seed
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes

In seperate pan, add 12 ounces of Rigatoni noodles to rapidly boiling water that has been seasoned with 1 tsp salt. Cook until noodles are al dente. Drain and immediately fold into sauce.

Add 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese and 1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese. Crumble the crisp pepperoni and mushrooms and add to the mix. Top with 1.5 cups shredded mozzarella, and pour into a pan prepared with cooking spray.

Bake at 350° for 15-20 minutes until cheese is bubbly and golden.

Note: it really should have sliced black olives, but I don’t like them, so I omit them.

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