Friday, April 1, 2011

Johnny Marzetti

Have you heard of Johnny Marzetti before? It's a dish that we ate for school lunches back when I was in school.

Where did the name come from? According to the Pittsburgh Post Gazette website, Johnny Marzetti is a casserole created in the 1920s by the owner of the Marzetti Restaurant in Columbus, Ohio. Who was Johnny Marzetti? According to the "American Century Cookbook" by Jean Anderson, Johnny Marzetti was the brother of the owner of the Marzetti Restaurant.

Casseroles steamrolled into the kitchen in the 1940s and have remained popular staples to this day. The Johnny Marzetti casserole was popular in the mid '50s and early '60s. It consists of meat, pasta and either tomato sauce, soup or juice.

My husband and I were talking about school lunches and comparing them to what our kids eat in school now. I decided to look up a recipe for Johnny Marzetti to see if I could duplicate the school's recipe. Did I duplicate it? No, not exactly. But the dish that I created was delicious. Like chili, it tastes even better warmed up as leftovers. The recipe that I remember had more of a spaghetti sauce sort of taste with no onion and peppers showing in it. Some say the original recipe contains cheese but I don't ever remember cheese in what I ate. There's also a controversy over whether or not it was made with egg noodles or elbow macaroni. It was always elbows for us.

This was a nice trip down memory lane.

Johnny Marzetti

1 pound ground chuck
1 onion, diced
1 green pepper, diced
1 teaspoon oil
1 large can tomatoes (29 ounces)
1 large can tomato juice
1 pound elbow macaroni, cooked
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste
Garlic salt, to taste

Brown meat, onion and green pepper in oil.

Drain, then add tomatoes, tomato juice and spices.

Add cooked macaroni to sauce. Simmer 10 minutes and serve.

Store any leftovers in a sealed container. It's even better the next day!


girlichef said...

I have never heard of it before...but it looks like something the whole family would love. Funny what memories food holds, isn't it!? :D

Sweet P said...

We call that dish goulash and I love it.

Amber said...

We had a version of this in school. Always reminds me of Hamburger Helper without the boxed processing.

Ours was hamburger, onions, some red pepper, diced tomatoes, worcestershire sauce, and pasta.
We've been known to add parsley and season salt too. :) Yum! Might make it next week.

Jenny said...

Add to this recipe Bush's Homestyle Bacon and Brown Sugar Baked Beans. You won't be sorry!

Mom24 said...

What is the size, or appx. size, of the tomato juice? thanks!

Tami said...

I can tell you the exact size tomorrow after I go shopping. lol!

It's the big can that is usually sold near the juice in the grocery store - I think it's 40+ ounces. This is one of those product where I always buy a name brand. There's not many that I insist on but with tomato juice, I just think that it really does taste better than a generic.

Stop back and let me know if you like this recipe!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for doing this! This was my favorite school lunch in the catholic cafeteria in the late 70's. Always looked like this and i always went up for seconds. I have been craving this and will make it tonight!

Anonymous said...

My Mother made this all the time and call it slumgoya we loved it and still do.. But when in high school, Dixie Hollins in St. Petersburg, Fla. we had Johnny Marzetti and it was not this it had cheddar cheese and a different seasoning. This is not it.

Todd Shannon said...

Great recipe! Could I brown the beef and combine all ingredients and put into a crock pot?

redsoxnation80 said...

Technically this is not Johnny Marzetti. Marzetti is made as a casserole baked in the oven and without onions and peppers, what you have made is American Chop Suey originating from New England.

Anonymous said...

My family also called this goulash

Leanne said...

I grew up in Columbus and your recipe is as close to my mom's (not a casserole!) as any I've found . Thanks for sharing!

Linda7647 said...

redsoxnation: who cares? Everybody calls it something different and where I grew up, in Columbus Ohio, we called this Johnny Marzetti. New Englanders call it American Chop Suey, Midwesterners call it Johnny Marzetti and others call it Goulash. What it's called depends on what part of the United States you're from.

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Anonymous said...

I grew up in a small town about 20 minutes North of Columbus. We ate this all the time!

Anonymous said...

I also grew up in Ohio. We had this often and it was called Johnny Marzzetti casserole. Mom cooked the hamburger and onions and peppers if we had them and added the tomatoes and juice and then the macaroni and put every thing in cassorole dish and baked it till done.

Anonymous said...

I grew up in Columbus, Ohio and I ate this as a casserole in the original Marzetti's restaurant. My mother made it at home, cooked on the stove without cheese, and had it for lunch in my elementary and high school cafeteria that way. I loved it, and my mother always said many versions of this dish will be around for years...but the original will always be "Johnny Marzetti" named after Theresa Marzetti, the founder and chief cook in the old Marzetti's restaurant in Columbus, Ohio.

Anonymous said...

This is as close as a recipe as I can find to what I used to eat, we always had shredded cheese on the side for people who wanted to add it.

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