This is the first in a new series of recipes I’m creating for the USO of Northern Ohio. The goal is to provide simple, tasty and economical meal ideas for our active duty military members and their families. These recipes don’t require fancy ingredients or equipment and can feed a family of four for $10 or less.
Up first is Johny Marzetti. If you grew up in Ohio between 1940 and 1980 you probably ate this at some point in your childhood. It is an Italian style casserole made popular by Marzetti’s restaurant in Columbus Ohio. They were also well known for their house made salad dressings and you can still buy Marztetti’s dressing in most grocery stores in the midwest.
My grandmother made this several times a month in her regular rotation of meals. She didn’t leave us a recipe but I have recreated a version (with a twist or two of my own) that tastes just like I remember. She always made it with macaroni, but any small pasta will work. It’s easy to make and it’s loaded with Italian flavor.
USO Johny Marzetti
A quick, easy and cheap Italian inspired casserole that has been an Ohio favorite for decades. It tastes great and costs less than $10 to feed a family of four (including the Italian green beans featured in the video and garlic bread).
- 8 oz of macaroni
- 1 lb ground Italian sausage
- 1 small onion, diced
- 1 green pepper, diced
- 1 tsp garlic, minced
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1 Tbsp brown sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 14.5 oz can of diced tomatoes
- 28 oz can of tomato sauce
- 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
- 1 1/2 Cups water
- 1 Cup shredded Mozzarella Cheese
- Preheat oven to 350° F
- In a large skillet brown the sausage and drain the fat
- Add the diced onion and green pepper, cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes until the onions begin to turn clear.
- Add all of the remaining ingredients except the shredded mozzarella and stir well.
- Spoon the mixture into a large, greased casserole dish.
- Bake uncovered at 350° F for one hour
- Sprinkle the Mozzarella cheese over the casserole and bake for an additional 5 minutes until cheese is melted
1) My grandmother made this with plain old ground beef. If you can’t find ground Italian sausage you can substitute plain hamburger. 2) Any small pasta will work if you don’t have macaroni