Johnny Marzetti


Johnny Marzetti Masterpiece: A Hearty Feast of Comfort and Flavor



In the realm of comforting casseroles, Johnny Marzetti stands tall as a classic American dish that has warmed hearts and satisfied cravings for generations. Originating in the kitchens of Italian immigrants in the early 20th century, this robust and flavorful concoction has evolved into a timeless favorite, with each family adding its unique twist to the recipe. Today, we embark on a culinary journey to create the ultimate Johnny Marzetti masterpiece, a dish that will undoubtedly become a cherished part of your family traditions.


For the Meat Sauce:

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 pound Italian sausage, casings removed
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 can (28 ounces) crushed tomatoes
  • 1 can (15 ounces) tomato sauce
  • 1 can (6 ounces) tomato paste
  • 1 cup red wine (optional)
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons dried basil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

For the Casserole:

  • 1 pound elbow macaroni, cooked al dente
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 cups cottage cheese
  • 1 cup sour cream


Making the Meat Sauce:

  1. In a large skillet, brown the ground beef and Italian sausage over medium-high heat. Drain excess fat.
  2. Add chopped onions and minced garlic to the skillet. Sauté until onions are translucent.
  3. Stir in crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, and tomato paste. Mix well.
  4. Pour in red wine (if using), dried oregano, dried basil, salt, and pepper. Allow the sauce to simmer on low heat for 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Assembling the Casserole:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C).
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the cooked elbow macaroni, shredded mozzarella, Parmesan cheese, cottage cheese, and sour cream. Mix until well combined.
  3. Grease a deep baking dish and layer half of the macaroni mixture at the bottom.
  4. Pour a generous layer of the meat sauce over the macaroni mixture.
  5. Repeat the layers, finishing with a topping of mozzarella and Parmesan.
  6. Cover the baking dish with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Then, remove the foil and bake for an additional 15 minutes or until the cheese is golden and bubbly.

Cooking Notes:

  • Experiment with different types of cheese for a personalized touch. Sharp cheddar or provolone can add a delightful twist.
  • For a time-saving option, prepare the meat sauce in advance and store it in the refrigerator for up to two days.
  • Don’t shy away from adding a dash of red pepper flakes for a subtle kick.


Vegetarian Johnny Marzetti: Replace the ground beef and sausage with a medley of sautéed vegetables like bell peppers, zucchini, and mushrooms. Enhance the sauce with extra herbs for a burst of flavor.

Seafood Twist: Incorporate cooked shrimp, crab, or a combination of both into the meat sauce. This variation adds a unique seafood flair to the classic dish.

Spicy Kick: For those who enjoy a bit of heat, add diced jalapeños or red pepper flakes to the meat sauce. This variation elevates the dish with a spicy, savory punch.

Keto and Low-Carb Versions:

Keto Johnny Marzetti:

  • Substitute the elbow macaroni with cauliflower or zucchini noodles.
  • Use ground beef and sausage without added sugars or fillers.
  • Opt for a sugar-free tomato sauce and tomato paste to reduce carbohydrate content.

Low-Carb Twist:

  • Replace the elbow macaroni with a low-carb pasta alternative or spiralized vegetables.
  • Choose a lower-carb red wine or omit it altogether.
  • Utilize full-fat dairy products to maintain richness without the added carbohydrates.

Johnny Marzetti, with its rich history and endless adaptability, is more than a meal; it’s a testament to the warmth and love shared around the family table. As you savor each bite of this delectable casserole, you’re not just experiencing a symphony of flavors but creating lasting memories. Whether you stick to the classic recipe, explore variations, or venture into keto and low-carb alternatives, Johnny Marzetti is a culinary masterpiece that transcends time, bringing comfort and joy to all who indulge.

Unlock the full potential of this timeless dish, make it your own, and let the aroma of Johnny Marzetti fill your kitchen with the essence of tradition and deliciousness. So, gather your ingredients, preheat that oven, and get ready to embark on a culinary journey that will leave a lasting imprint on your family’s recipe book. Johnny Marzetti awaits, promising a symphony of flavors and a plate full of heartwarming memories.



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