Total Time
1hr 35mins
Prep 45 mins
Cook 50 mins

Satisfying comfort food. I feel like an authority on Johnny Marzetti casserole by now; for each household's preferences I have a unique casserole. This is the basic recipe, updated to 2008 from Jean Anderson's "The American Century Cookbook". Why follow a recipe from the 1950s and 1960s exactly how it was, when so many choices are available to us now? I call this an updated version of Johnny Marzetti, using sweet (Vidalia type) onions, minced garlic, baby portabello mushrooms, low-sodium tomato sauce, and bow tie pasta (farfalle). When all is said and done, this is a tasty casserole I am requested to make again and again (in all its incarnations). This fills one large 14 x 11 1/2 x 2-inch aluminum foil pan for a buffet serving setup, or two 11 x 7 x 2-inch baking dishes. My preparation times are usually longer than average; I am the slowest chopper in the Western Hemisphere.

Ingredients Nutrition


  1. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Place the farfalle (aka bow ties) into the pot, cook 8 to 10 minutes, until al dente, and drain.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  3. Lightly grease 14 x 11 1/2 x 2 1/4-inch baking dish (or two 8x8-inch pans) and set aside.
  4. Heat olive oil in a very large heavy skillet over moderate heat 1 minute.
  5. Add onion and garlic. Stir-fry until limp, about 3 minutes.
  6. Add mushrooms and stir-fry until juices are released and evaporate, about 5 minutes.
  7. Add beef and cook and stir, breaking up clumps, until no longer red, about 5 minutes.
  8. Off heat, mix in tomato sauce and all but 1 cup cheese.
  9. Transfer to baking dish, add bow ties, and toss gently but thoroughly to mix.
  10. Scatter remaining 1 cup cheese on top.
  11. Bake, uncovered, until browned and bubbling, 35-40 minutes, and serve.
Most Helpful

This was yummy, Kate! I'm glad I tagged it for PRMR. I did make some adjustments, but mostly to amounts, not ingredients. I used an 8 oz pkg of mushrooms, and only 1 lb of ground beef instead of 2. I also cut down the cheddar cheese to 1 8 oz package and thought it was plenty. I didn't have quite enough tomato sauce, so I also added 1 small can of petite diced tomatoes. I have a ton leftover, so I will be freezing some in individual servings for lunches. Thanks for posting!

lucid501 July 29, 2008

This was such comfort food. It makes a huge amount though. I halved the meat, used one jar of sauce and used less cheese, it still made enough for 6 normal appetites. I loved it and leftovers were great.

MarraMamba June 01, 2014

Comfort food complete with wonderful cheese. One of those treasures from school lunches. Made for PRMR.

Lavender Lynn September 28, 2012