Another one of our family “staple” recipes is this easy and simple Mazetti, a recipe that my mother-in-law gave me early in my marriage. Over the years, I’ve adjusted the recipe she gave me to either include lots of “hidden vegetables” or to use whatever quick ingredients I had on hand. NOTE: for those who are interested in the history of the name of this recipe, I would point you toward my friend, Jenna, at The Gleeful Gourmand, who wrote up this version of “Johnny Marzetti“. I was fascinated to read the back-story of this great recipe, including her own recipe. Back to my simple Mazetti… here’s the “down and dirty” of making a quick, hearty meal using just a few ingredients.
- One package of ground turkey
- 1-2 cans tomato soup (I would use one can soup and one can of red wine)
- 1 1/2 cups of your favorite pasta
- Cheese (for topping, as desired)
- Brown your ground turkey in a large skillet in a small amount of olive oil or margarine (whatever you have on hand). I also like to add 1/2-1 whole diced onion or some green pepper if I have things on hand and want to stretch the food a bit. I typically will add some red wine and brown the turkey and veggies until the liquid is totally absorbed.
- Once the turkey is browned and starting to get a bit crispy, add your tomato soup (or soup and water/wine) and your pasta. I really like to use large elbow macaroni, but have used ziti, bow tie pasta, or even small shells… use your favorite pasta shape but don’t use egg noodles as they won’t hold up to the cooking process. NOTE: You are welcome to cook your pasta separately, but I like the way the sauce flavors the pasta pieces. Again, it’s entirely up to you.
- I enjoy playing with flavors at this point, so I have the unique flavor that I want from each mazetti dish. I have been known to add more red wine at this point, but I’ve also added a shot of espresso (this darkens the flavor considerably), or just some stock or water. If the liquid is absorbed and the pasta isn’t thoroughly cooked, you just need to add more liquid. The pasta will soak up the liquid and become more al dente’… don’t ever give up on the dish as you’re cooking.
- To serve, you can pop this into a casserole dish, top it with some shredded cheese and warm it up in a 350 degree oven for 20-30 minutes until everything is bubbly. If you’re serving from the skillet, you can either omit the cheese or add it on top just before serving and put the lid on your pan to give the cheese time to melt. Either way is delicious… my boys have eaten this dish in many different variations and have loved it each time.
An extra way to make this dish special is to top it with buttered bread crumbs. I have a recipe for making buttered bread crumbs on my website as a “bonus recipe”, included with “How to make a sauce“. Both of these recipes would qualify as “starter recipes”, so please feel free to check this one out as well. I’ve just added the “starter recipe” tag, so you should be able to find it that way as well.
I hope you’ll check out Jenna’s recipe and her history of this recipe… it’s so interesting to find out where recipes originate! Since my Mother-in-Law lives in Michigan and is originally from Rhode Island, her recipe could be a variation of Johnny Marzetti, but it will forever be one of my favorites from her. I was so touched when she shared one of her favorite recipes with me… it always reminds me of her, no matter how I actually end up making the final dish… it’s comfort food to me.