I know I described the way I usually fix Johnny Marzetti in the last post. Today I used a different recipe and it is extremely good. A few years ago, I was really interested in Italian cookbooks and read many from the library and bought quite a few, too many, probably. I began to notice recipes for a pasta sauce or casserole that called for blue cheese, or gorgonzola. I thought that sounded rather strange (remember, this was two decades ago, and I was really just getting involved in cooking at a level more than basic). After I had seen a number of them, I decided to give it a try.
Man, oh man! What a revelation! If I don’t convince you to try anything else in this blog, I will be happy if I get you to try adding crumbled blue cheese to a more or less standard pasta casserole recipe. Let me tell you how I did it today.
I started with leftover spaghetti sauce from a few days ago. It was just regular spaghetti sauce, ground beef, tomato sauce, some onions, garlic, herbs. Nothing out of the ordinary. I had about 2 cups leftover and decided to make Johnny Marzetti. I began by sauteeing a chopped carrot, celery stalk, small onion, and half of a zucchini, chopped. When those were tender, I added the leftover sauce and heated it. Then, while I was boiling about a half pound of campanelle pasta (shaped like little horns or bells – but I could have used penne, or anything), I poured into the sauce about a half cup of heavy cream. Then I put in about a half cup of crumbled blue cheese and stirred all that to combine the cream and incorporate the melting cheese.
After draining the pasta, I put both the pasta and the sauce in a casserole and mixed them. I sprinkled some parmesan over the top and put it in a 325 oven for about 15 minutes to melt the cheese on top. During that time I tossed a salad and sliced some fresh bread.
The blue cheese adds a tangy taste that makes the dish rather different from most pasta casseroles. I have made it before with Italian sausage instead of ground beef. It is actually quite a bit better with sausage. The two tastes are complementary somehow. Give it a try, even if you don’t like blue cheese.
Here’s the recipe, as best as I can quantify the ingredients. Remember – I used leftover homemade spaghetti sauce. You can use whatever kind you like, with meat or without.
JOHNNY MARZETTI – 2nd VERSION
2 to 2 1/2 c. spaghetti sauce
1 T. olive oil
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
1 celery stalk, halved lengthwise and chopped
1/2 c. onion, chopped
1 small zucchini, halved lengthwise and chopped
1/2 lb. pasta (penne, macaroni, campanelle, whatever), prepared according to directions on package
1/2 c. heavy cream, or whipping cream
1/2 c. crumbled blue cheese
1/4 c. parmesan cheese, grated or shredded
1. Preheat oven to 325. In a medium saucepan, heat the olive oil until shimmering. Add the chopped vegetables and saute until tender.
2. Add the leftover spaghetti sauce and heat medium heat. Add the cream, lower heat to medium low and stir to combine.
3. Add the blue cheese and stir to incorporate the melting cheese.
4. Put the cooked pasta and the warm sauce into a casserole and mix together. Sprinkle some parmesan on top and bake in the oven until bubbly, about 20 minutes.
5. Serve with more parmesan if desired.