Mother’s Favorite Dish: Johnny Marzetti

One day when my sister and I were talking about foods we recalled from childhood, she  mentioned  Johnny Marzetti. The hearty, easy (and cheap) casserole dish was indeed a favorite of our mother, and we still make it in our households.

Harriette Anderson Kaser

Harriette Anderson and Ray Jarvis at Ohio State, 1923

I suspected that it might have originated at Marzetti’s restaurant in Columbus, Ohio, and like to think that mother first picked up her liking for the dish when she went to Ohio State. Maybe her boyfriend Ray even took her to Marzetti’s for dinner, who knows?

But until I did a little research, I did not realize what a thoroughly Ohio recipe Johnny Marzetti is.

I would tell you the history, but this website, Ohio Thoughts, does such a good job that I urge you to follow the link for the story, pictures, the original recipe and the author’s variation.



Just in case you’re too fatigued to click over to that site (that’s sarcasm, in case you missed it), here’s the abbreviated version.  I remember mother adding chopped green peppers. I add garlic salt and Italian herbs.

Johnny Marzetti

Johnny Marzetti

Johnny Marzetti made with bowtie pasta and baby eggplant.

  • Cook macaroni or noodles.
  • In skillet, brown hamburger with onions (if you want them), mushrooms (if you have them) and when they are brown add tomato sauce and any seasonings you want.
  • Dump all that on top of the noodles in a casserole dish and top with grated cheddar cheese.  Bake

Thanks, Mom.

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2 thoughts on “Mother’s Favorite Dish: Johnny Marzetti

  1. Kerry Dexter

    I’ve had a dish with these ingredients, and vegetarian versions as well, but never heard it called this. I think you are right, it must be an Ohio thing — although from the story in the link you provided, it evidently spread far and wide, just not to any place I have been! Okay, well, I have been to Ohio several times, but never encountered it, so thanks for the introduction.

    1. Avatar photoVera Marie Badertscher Post author

      Kerry, it does seem to be ubiquitous. I found a food history book that refers to it as American Chop Suey, which sounds totally wrong to me, but it is authoritative and definitely the same type dish.


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