Johnny Marzetti Updated

"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."
photo by Lavender Lynn photo by Lavender Lynn
photo by Lavender Lynn
Ready In:
1hr 35mins
12 cups




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

Questions & Replies

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  1. lucid501
    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!
  2. MarraMamba
    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.
  3. Lavender Lynn
    Comfort food complete with wonderful cheese. One of those treasures from school lunches. Made for PRMR.
  4. waynejohn1234
    Excellent. Finally a recipe for Johnny Marzetti that is suitable to serve to company...Do remember the original ones away back and never that impressed. Thanks again.


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