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This classic recipe is called by different names, the most common of which is Johnny Marzetti.  Historically it was also known as Johnny Mazetti in the Canal Zone a classic dish served at special occasions and considered to have originated there; also Johnny Marzotti in Texas. Some even think, somehow, that it's a traditional Irish dish.  In truth, it all started at the Marzetti family restaurant in Columbus, Ohio with a hearty but simply dish Teresa Marzetti served to her brother-in-law, Johnny.  Read the story at the links above.

Johnny Marzetti

1 1/2 lb. lean ground beef  (Note)
2 Tbsp. canola oil
1 cup chopped celery
1 large onion, diced
1/4 cup bell pepper, chopped
1 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
black pepper to taste
1  4-oz. can mushroom stems and pieces, drained
1 15 or 16-oz. can stewed tomatoes
1 16-oz. can tomato sauce (Note #2)
1/2 cup salad olives, sliced or coarsely chopped (Optional)
1 lb. pasta, uncooked (noodles, shells, bow ties, elbow...your choice)
12 oz. shredded cheese (cheddar, provolone, Colby, Velveeta...your choice)   (Note #3)

Preheat oven to 350° F.  Put pasta to cook as per package directions.

Heat oil in a large skillet.  Add ground meat, breaking it up with a spatula or potato masher.  Add celery, bell pepper and onion.  Sauté until meat loses its pink color and starts to brown.  Add garlic powder, oregano, mushrooms, tomato products and olives if using them.  Bring back to a boil.

Drain pasta well.  Add meat-tomato mixture and stir.  Add cheese and mix well.  Pour into a casserole dish.  Bake for about 30 minutes, or until cheese melts and dish is bubbly, and it starts to brown a little around the edges.

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Note:  You may prefer 1 lb. of ground beef and 1/2 lb. lean ground pork.

Note #2:  Some people prefer to add a can of condensed tomato soup instead of tomato sauce.  Some add ketchup to the above ingredients.

Note #3:  Cut calories by using fat-free or low-fat cheese.  It will affect the flavor very little.
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