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Here’s Johnny ~ Marzetti, that is…

Brrrrrrrrrr!!!!  It’s cold outside!!!  It’s 0 degrees with -13 degree wind chill as I write this with forecaster’s predicting -10 degrees for tonight.  Single digit days and negative nights ~ that’s the Midwest for you…   

These are the days to warm up from the inside out and Johnny Marzetti is a perfect dish for doing just that.  Mom cooked this great dish in the winter when I was growing and it was one of my favorite meals. It was originally a dish of few ingredients; mainly elbow macaroni with tomato sauce, ground beef and cheese.  Now, it’s like gossip with the changes cooks make. 

I was born in Columbus, Ohio so I am proud that Ohio lays claim to Johnny Marzetti.  The dish originated in Columbus in the 1940’s by the owner of Marzetti’s restaurant and was named after his brother Johnny.  It spread to other parts of the United States as variations of the recipe were published in magazines and cookbooks during the mid-20th century.

The Johnny Marzetti concoction I make now includes diced tomatoes, sliced green olives, chopped green peppers and sliced mushrooms with a massive amount of cheese.  It’s warming and comforting on these cold winter nights!  

Johnny Marzetti


¾ pound elbow macaroni
1½ pounds lean ground beef
1 onion, chopped
1 teaspoon pepper, salt optional
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
1 (14.5-ounce) can Hunts diced roasted garlic tomatoes
1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce
1 small green bell pepper, chopped
½ cup salad olives
1 (8-ounce) can sliced mushrooms
1 cup Velveeta cheese, sliced into chunks

2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (for topping)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Cook macaroni according to package directions, drain well and set aside.
Place ground meat in a large skillet and break it up with a spatula.
Add onions, pepper and garlic powder, combining well.
Sauté until meat is cooked through and onions are tender.
Remove from skillet and drain well.
In a large bowl to accommodate all the ingredients, mix the meat with all of the remaining ingredients, with the exception of the cheddar cheese. 
Grease a large baking dish. *
Place mixture in baking dish.
Spread shredded cheddar cheese over top.
Cover with foil.
Bake for about 40 minutes until heated through.
Remove foil and continue baking for about 5 minutes until cheese melts and it starts to brown a little around the edges.

* I use my 3-quart Le Creuset Au Gratin baking dish so as to have a larger surface to spread the cheddar cheese on top. 

You will feel the love when eating this savory dish!

Be sure to visit my friend, Linda’s blog @My Kind of Cooking for great tips, recipes and cookbook giveaway!


  1. This does look delicious and comforting,especially with all the cheese!
    We are having the same weather, and it's been snowing, again, this morning.I want spring so bad.

  2. I was just having a conversation with my husband about this dish. I grew up in southwestern Pa. and we ate this for lunch at school. I make my own version of it now for my family. Thanks for sharing your version!

  3. I thought it was cold here, but kinda balmy compared to your place. This dish sounds toooo good.

  4. Pam, this is the best comfort food on coldest days like these! I will definitely stop complaining about the weather if I am served this delicious dish! Just love the recipe! I'd better start making this before it gets any colder! Cheers!

  5. wow that is cold!!!!! this looks delicious we love ghoulas, not sure how to spell it, but never thought to put cheese on it... will try this!

  6. I am now fed up with winter but think you are very much colder than we are. This dish looks just the sort of thing to warm one up. Diane

  7. My mom would've called this goulash, and it would have been ground beef, elbow mac, onions and canned tomatoes. My school would've called it spaghetti and it would have been made with ketchup and no cheese.

    I ate lunch at school with my daughter once just to find out what John Marzetti was. It was the same spaghetti my school served. My granddaughter's school calls it Spaghetti Mac.

    Let the gossip continue! :)

  8. I think every restaurant in OHIO has a 'family'recipe! I'm from Springfield... and there are/were several in town that has a 'recipe'.
    Small world!

  9. I like your Jhonny's maccheroni! perfect in this cold winter!

  10. I remember something similar to this that my mom made when I was growing up. This looks so good.

  11. Looks so good. I grew up without ever eating a casserole. I dabbled a bit in making them when the girls were young, but it is a rare moment when I make them. But, having said that, I could eat this like....right now.

  12. I have actually never heard of this dish, but I'm glad you introduced it to me because it sounds wonderful!

  13. Delicioso se ve el plato. Saludos

  14. What I love about dishes like this is two fold... not only are they crazy comforting (a dish anyone would be thrilled to walk in to) but it also usually tastes better the next day! As far as I am concerned - the more cheese the better!!!!!!!!

  15. Wow, it really is cold there! This dish looks and sounds so comforting and perfect to spend the evening curled up at the table enjoying a plate of this, warm from the oven. Lovely!

  16. I love it that you used Velveeta cheese in this recipe! You are a good Midwestern girl! Growing up, that seemed to be the cheese of choice when you made a dish that had macaroni in it. Oh, the memories!

  17. This just screams comfort food baby doll! Velvetta is perfect in this, making it even better.

  18. My Mom used to make this all the time when I was growing up! I'll have to give your recipe a try! xoxo

  19. brrr - you're making me feel cold just thinking about it !

    Weather here has been really rather nice this last week or two. Really high winds (subsided about 24 hours ago), but dry, sunny and quite mild.

    The sunshine makes you crave salads and spring veg - then BANG the cold comes back again.... and it's back to carby dinners and log fires.

    I don't know what I like more...

    Looks good :-)

  20. Hey, Pam,
    Check out my blog today . . . you are a winner (you always were.)


  21. This is a very popular potluck dish down here in Louisiana, too, but we all call it Morzette. The recipe is the same, though, and I love it!

  22. I've made something very similar to this before.. who knew it was Johnny Marzetti :) Looks fantastic, Pam!!

  23. Dear PAm! I wish that cold doesn't last too long. Just keep cooking these wonderful dishes for your family meanwhile, this is something to remember: I didn't know the story of the Johnny Marzetti. I will try it during our winter! take care!

  24. Oh girl...I wanna feel the love! That dish looks and sounds fantastic. I'm puttin' it on my 'to make' list here 'cause it sounds like a warm comfortin' dish and heaven knows that's just what we need at -11 this mornin'. Burrrrrr!


    God bless and have a marvelously 'warm' fuzzy kinda day! :o)

  25. And I thought that it was cold here. This dish looks fab and so delicious! Thanks for the great recipe! Perfect for a cold day.

  26. Love all the additions!

    Hope your weather improves soon!

  27. Mama calls this Texas Trash! Us southern girls don't know how to do anything but sweat right?

  28. My mom made something similar when I was growing up and we all loved it. This looks like a yummy recipe, Pam. I have it bookmarked for a meal very soon.

  29. This sounds like that good, stick-to-your-bones comfort food we all crave during these winter months. I'm so glad it is finally Friday. I hope you have a wonderful weekend of relaxation, love and laughter. Thank you for sharing, my friend!

  30. awwww I love such comfort food - noodles and cheese... yum!

  31. Ciao Pam, how are you?

    Please keep warm!

    I have another giveaway on my blog ,if you are interested :-)

    good luck


  32. Hello, great blog. I loved. I am Brazilian and I love to speak english. I will love your visit in my blog, You will be very welcome. Hugs.

  33. How creepy! i actually made this a few days back almost identically recipe wise, before i saw ur post.

    It was awesome. Thanks for sharing, and congratulations on your new family edition.

    God bless!

  34. Pam-Wow, what a surprise...I also grew up on this dish, my mom made it at least once a week. I did not know the actual name of it, but it was done exactly the same way. I never had the recipe for it...just made it from memory when my kids were little.
    I have such fond memories of this macaroni dish.
    Thanks for sharing the recipe!


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