Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Yamazetti, Yummazetti, Ya-Ma-Zetta or Y________ ?

Anyway you spell it, the dish always seems to come back empty after serving.

I'd never heard of the casserole till about 30 years ago when it showed up on a friend's family supper table. Then I began to spot it at potlucks, church dinners and the like. Finally I found a couple of recipes in a local Amish cookbook, "Dutch Cookbook - Stuarts Draft 1979." So I thought of it as some sort of Pennsylvania Dutch word meaning "darn good hot dish."

When I mentioned it in a recent post, I started hearing from others who either made the dish regularly, were looking for a recipe or had heard of it but wanted to know more such as where it came from originally. The truth is, I'm not sure anyone knows that; kind of like the correct spelling of the name. Or even, what is the correct name?

A 1993 Reiman Pubs cookbook, "Country Ground Beef," gives a recipe that's very similar to others I've come across but it's titled "Marzetti." Other cookbooks refer to a dish called "Johnnie Marzetti" and Wikipedia even has an entry for a similar (the same?) dish giving the origin as an Ohio restaurant.

So what's the recipe? Well, that depends on who you ask. Constants appear to be ground beef, cheese, tomatoes and noodles. Other ingredients come and go depending on your recipe source.

It's a very forgiving recipe. If you have Swiss cheese but not the more commonly listed Cheddar, that's fine. A can of diced tomatoes instead of condensed tomato soup or sauce? That's okay, too. Want to sneak in a few vegetables? Layer in some chopped zucchini or a can of green beans, drained, or a cup or so of corn if you want to make it stretch to another serving, perhaps. If you have some leftover veg from yesterday's dinner consider layering them between the noodles and sauce. Be adventurous but not crazy. I wouldn't recommend sweet and sour cabbage, say, but leftover plain or buttered steamed cabbage or peas and mushrooms wouldn't be amiss.

Below is the recipe I start with. It's the one I was given over 30 years ago when I first came across the dish. Remember there are lots of variations. On occasion I've subbed a couple cups of chopped cold roast beef for the ground beef. Just cook the onion and celery in a bit of butter, oil or broth then mix with the cold beef. According to Wikipedia, the Panama Canal Zone's version of this dish always includes celery and olives. So the sky's the limit.


8 ounces dry noodles, cooked
1 to 1-1/2 pounds ground beef
1 onion, chopped
1 stalk celery, diced
1 (10-3/4 ounces)can condensed cream of _____ soup*
1 (10-3/4 ounces) can condensed tomato soup
1 cup sour cream or plain yogurt
2 cups grated cheese

Brown ground beef in skillet, adding onion and celery as beef cooks. Spoon cooked noodles into 9x12-inches baking dish. Combine soups and sour cream or yogurt.

When beef is done, drain if necessary. Spoon beef over noodles. (Add 1 or 2 cups of any desired vegetable as discussed in post above.) Spread soup mixture over top. Sprinkle with cheese.

Bake at 350F. for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until bubbly and cheese melted.

Casserole reheats well for packed lunches and also freezes well. Make one to serve and one to freeze for another day.

*Note: Almost any condensed cream soup will work. The lady who gave me the recipe always used cream of chicken but I use whatever's on hand so cream of mushroom and cream of celery are often subbed. Recently I came across cream of squash blossom soup and it works great, too. If you like the cream soup, it will probably sub with no problem in this recipe.

For cooking tips, check out Kitchen Tip Tuesdays at Tammy's Recipes.


Anonymous said...


I'd never heard of this dish until my mother in law made it for supper one night when we were visiting. It IS really good. She makes it a variety of ways too.

Take Care,


Kirstin said...

I've never heard of this but it sounds really good. I love good casseroles!

Lynn said...

I have the Country Ground Beef cookbook. I have seen the recipe you mentioned but I have never made it. I will have to give it or yours a try. They sound good. Thanks for sharing.

Sherry said...

Yum! I've heard of this, but I haven't ever made it.

Carolyn said...

There's just something about the combination of soups and sour cream or yogurt that makes this a comfort food. And you can always use MIY cream soup as a sub.

Thanks for checking out the post!

Anonymous said...

I have never heard of Yamazetti being made with anything but Campbell's Tomato Soup (2 cans), 1 pound of ground meat, 1 cup onion, diced, 1 green bell pepper diced, 1 cup of sliced celery and a pound of cooked ziti. 3 tbsp. soy sauce and pepper for seasoning. That is ALL! All the dairy is unnecessary!