Okra with Veggies

Okra with Veggies

Okra and Veggies or Southern Style Johnnie Marzetti

My two year old is so cute (aren’t all of them?) I was complaining that my husband, one of life’s perma-pessimists (He’s very much a “the brand new washing machine is broken, we’re all going to die” type person, bless him.) was in little black rain cloud mode again. “It’s always raining in your world,” I said to him, whereupon my two year popped up and graciously offered, “I look for you daddy.” and proceeded to look out the window to see if it was indeed raining. This is the same child that when told, “Grandpa is coming today.” answered, “Yes I can hear his car,” -as it drives in from Indiana. So cute, so, so cute.

But back to Johnnie Marzetti, if you’re from Columbus you will instantly know this dish. It is served in school cafeterias here and came from the area. If you’re not, you’re probably like what the heck. Basically Johnnie Marzetti is ground beef, tomatoes, maybe peppers and celery, plus elbow macaroni. You might melt some cheddar cheese on that too depending on where you’re from. It’s really good in a pasta-a-roni sort of way. I imagine it’s quite common as a dish everywhere, just with a different name. Anyway, my version, since I love okra, is standard Johnnie Marzetti, but with okra added as one of the veggies. It thickens up the sauce really nicely and is just amazing over cornbread. Even my children will eat it. I have a hard time finding the okra for it unfortunately unless I buy it frozen or grow it myself. Fortunately the frozen works just fine (For the record we have okra at our farmer’s markets, but they clearly have never cooked it as a vegetable because they pick it super thick and tough. I have a hard time finding enough small ones to make anything.)  Try it, with or without the okra, and see if we can convert you to our mid-western ways.

Serves 4 easily

Reheat Yes

Freezes Yes

Kid Friendly Tasks Veggie Picking


  • ½ lb ground beef
  •  1 c onion, chopped
  •  1.5 c celery, chopped
  •  3 cloves garlic, chopped
  •  1.5 c green pepper, chopped
  •  2 c tomatoes, diced or canned with juice
  •  1 c water
  •  ½ c elbow macaroni
  •  2-3 c okra, sliced ¼ in thick
  •  ½ tsp oregano
  •  1 tsp parsley
  •  Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Fry the ground beef until cooked through. Add the chopped celery, onion, garlic, green pepper, oregano and parsley. Cook 5 mins.
  2. Add the tomatoes and elbow macaroni. Add the water and okra and simmer over low heat 30 min or until all veggies are soft.

Okra with Veggies

Okra with Veggies


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