Ok, don't judge me. This was my favorite dish in the cafeteria at my high school, or was it at my first downtown job? Either way I finally got enough nerve to ask one of the cooks in the cafeteria for the recipe. Of course I had to do a little math to scale it down to 8 servings. I finally pulled it out of the archives to make for my family. It was a big hit and they cleared the casserole dish, well, a shout out goes to my son's friend Brad - the big offensive lineman on our school's football team, who gladly participates in many a meal here. It tastes just like I remembered. It's so easy to make, I'm sure your family will love it too.
Now, on to the weird name. Have you ever heard of this dish before? While I'm not from Ohio, I did a little research and it seems as though this dish originated in Columbus, Ohio at Marzetti's, an Italian restaurant established in 1896. Teresa Marzetti, an immigrant from Italy created this and named it after her brother-in-law Johnny. Who knew? Does Marzetti's still exist?
3 Tbsp. olive oil
2 cups celery, chopped
2 bell peppers, cored, seeded and chopped (I used a yellow and green)
1 medium onion, chopped
1 lb. ground beef
1 lb. mild or hot Italian sausage, out of the casing
1 - 10 oz. can of condensed tomato soup
1 - 6 oz. can tomato paste
1 - 15 oz. can tomato sauce
1 1/2 cups water
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 lb. elbow macaroni, cooked and drained
2 cups grated cheddar cheese (or more depending how cheesy you like it)
Heat oil in a dutch oven. Add celery, onion and peppers and sauté until tender, about 10 minutes.
Remove the vegetables from the pan and set aside. In the same pan cook the beef and sausage until browned, stirring and breaking up the meat. Remove excess fat (I like to use a turkey baster for this job) and return the vegetables to the pan. Add the soup, tomato paste, tomato sauce and water over the meat mixture. Add the salt and pepper and stir until combined. Simmer, uncovered for 30 minutes. Add your cooked macaroni and spoon the mixture into a 9" x 13" glass casserole dish. Cover with cheese.
Bake in a preheated 350º oven for 20 minutes until the cheese is melted and has started to brown.
Makes 8 servings, or 6 if Brad is over.