Johnny Mazetti Recipe

A traditional Panama Canal Zone casserole dish, this comfort food is a real crowd-pleaser

Copyright © All Rights Reserved; Author’s Google profile; Posted September 24, 2011

Johnny Mazetti caserole is a Panama Canal Zone favorite; photo courtesy Kelly Smith


Some people maintain that this dish originated in Columbus, Ohio, but it is safe to say that no group of people have enjoyed it as much as Zonians. Variations on the name are Marzetti and Marzotti, but whatever you call it, it’ just the thing to wash down with a Cerveza Panama.

I’ll list the traditional ingredients here, but when you see things in parentheses, know that these are substitutions I have experimented with and enjoyed. I encourage you to do the same. You won’t be the first, there are many variations out there. Who knows what Johnny would say about that?

Ingredient List

  • 3/4 lb. grated cheddar cheese (or mix it up; I last experimented with half cheddar and half asiago)
  • 1 large green bell pepper
  • 1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef
  • As much minced garlic as you like
  • 1 large onion, chopped (I like red onions)
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1 16 oz. can of tomato sauce (or Pace Picante Sauce)
  • 1 can of Arturo Sauce if you can find it (otherwise, 8 oz. can of tomato sauce
  • 1 8 oz. can of tomato paste
  • 1 can of mushrooms (I prefer bulk shrooms; shiitake, baby bella, or portobello)
  • Black and/or green olives, with or without the juice, about 7 oz. total
  • 18 oz. package of egg noodles (or whole wheat pasta)
  • Optional: Hot peppers! (I said Panama, right? Aji chombo or habaneros works for me.)

A tasty Panamanian cassarole dish ready to eat; photo courtesy Kelly Smith

The Cooking Process

  1. Cook the ground beef and vegetables in a large skillet.
  2. Add in all the sauces.
  3. Pre-heat oven to 350 F.
  4. Add the olives and mushrooms.
  5. Remove from heat and cook the noodles.
  6. Mix it all together and place it in a 9” X 13” glass baking dish.
  7. Spread the cheese on top.
  8. Bake for 1 hour.

This batch should serve 6 to 8 people depending on appetite. This is a particularly good dish if you are marathon training or after a hard workout. It is also one of those foods that gets better when reheated after being frozen or refrigerated; something about the flavors mingling together. It’s best served with cold beer or wine. Enjoy!

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