Johnny Marzetti...Kentucky Style!

When I was kid we played outside and when I say that, I mean we played outside all day long from the time we got up to dark and sometimes even after dark.   We played at other kids houses and they played at ours, but my mother had a rule that you could not go inside any one's house no matter what. If she found out you went in any one's house, you would not be allowed to go back.  I am sure other parents loved her rule and looking back it was a smart rule to make. 

One day I was playing with some kids who I usually didn't play with, but the older of the two and I had two loves...softball and gymnastics, so we gravitated to each other.  They wanted me to come in their house so I could see their rooms and such.  I hated to say my mother would kill me if I went inside, so I decided to take a chance and go in for just a peek. 

As soon as that door came open, a smell that was like heaven on earth hit me right in the face.   It was tomatoes and garlic and cheese and I was always hungry no matter how much I ate back then.  I guess I just blurted out,  "What in the world is that I smell cooking?"    Their mother said,  "We are having Johnny Marzetti for dinner".     I said, "Who is he?"  They all looked a each other and died laughing and I was still confused.  Had a Johnny Marzetti moved in nearby and I had missed it?  Why were they laughing at me? 

 They explained that is was a casserole called Johnny Marzetti. I had never heard of food named after a man...very strange.  I asked what was in it, because I knew I needed to have my mama cook this.   They had the recipe and showed me what all went in it and I took it all in.  I was always very curious about food and recipes, even then.  

From what I understand Johnny Marzetti originated in Columbus, Ohio at Marzetti's Italian restaurant back in the 1920's maybe.  Some say the owner had a brother named Johnny he named the dish after. 

 It's theorized it was a way to use up the red sauce that was left over.   There are so many recipes for it now and my version is my own, but they all have meat sauce, pasta, onion, green pepper and some form of cheese in common. 

This is a budget stretcher and makes a box of pasta and  a pound of ground beef go a long way!  In these economic times, we all need more of these dishes. 

Here is what you will need:

 1 lb. ground beef, 1 jar or can spaghetti sauce of our choice, 1 can tomato paste, pasta, mozzarella cheese, cheddar cheese, pepperoni, salt, pepper, garlic powder.


1 lb. ground beef or chuck
1 cup pepperoni slices
1 jar or can pasta sauce ( I used Ragu Sweet Basil and Sun dried Tomato)
1 lb. pasta
1 small can tomato paste
2 cups water
1 Tbs. sugar
1 cup Parmesan cheese
1 cup Cheddar cheese
2 cups Mozzarella cheese
1 cup onion chopped
1/2 cup green pepper chopped
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. basil
1 tsp. garlic powder 

You can use 2 jars of pasta sauce instead of the tomato paste and water.  I think the tomato paste makes a richer meat sauce.

Cook the pasta just until al dente.  You can use just about any pasta you have on hand...penne, rotini, even egg noodles work well.  Pour them into a large casserole dish you have sprayed with cooking spray.

Brown ground beef with onion and green pepper. Drain any fat off.  Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and garlic salt.  Add pasta sauce, tomato paste, water, sugar and basil.   Stir and bring to a low simmer.  Simmer for about 20 minutes.

 Pour the meat sauce over the pasta and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese and cheddar cheese.


Layer pepperoni on top of cheese and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese again. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes or until bubbly and starting to brown.

Johnny Marzetti...KY style!


  1. My mom made this but we called it beefaroni and she always used Marconi noodles. She didn't bake it either, she did it all in one pan (obviously it was not topped with the cheeses). We also never added pepperoni. This looks like an interesting recipe, I just may have to try it!!!

    1. Then it's not called Johnny Marzetti...KY style!



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