A spaghetti casserole using three cans, one jar and a box. I would imagine it’s something like the love child of a lasagna and a pasta puttanesca, which would make sense, given its early-to-mid 20th century origin (the recipe in general, not necessarily this specific version).
In a time before cooking shows, getting recipes for ethnic foods was the simple part. Knowing the techniques required to assemble them was the insurmountable part. If you’ve never made a lasagna before, you were unlikely to succeed with the things you could find in a typical 1930s grocery. This offered some of the charm with none of the hurdles.
(That said, if you know how to make a lasagna, you can usually assemble ones from ingredients found at a 7-11.)
While recipes under this name using similar ingredients start showing up in the late 1930s, the examples from the mid-1940s tend to look most like this one. For example, compare the version printed in the May 3, 1946 edition of the Oxnard (California) Press-Courier:
Press-Courier Prize Recipes
1/2 lb. pound spaghetti
Method: Cook spaghetti in boiling salted water until tender; drain. Brown meat in oil, add onions, pepper, garlic, cooking 10 minutes more. Add tomato paste or tomato soup, corn, mushrooms and liquid and season well. Mix with cooked spaghetti, put in baking dish, top with grated cheese and bake 1 hour (350 degrees F. ) — Mrs. Ann Martin, 120 Woolley Road, Oxnard.
The Press-Courier pays $1 for recipes.
From the box of C.C. from Ceres, California.
1 lb. ground round
1 can corn and juice–taller can #2
1 can tomato soup
1 can mushrooms and juice
1 package narrow noodles (about 1/2 package)
1/4 (cup?) Wesson oil
1/4 lb. Tillamook cheese
1 small jar stuffed green olives
Cut up olives in quarters. Grate cheese.
1 or 2 garlic (cloves?)
Saute onion and garlic, then add ground meat; add olives, corn, tomato soup, mushrooms. Simmer slowly while noodles are cooking separately.
When noodles are done, drain and combine all ingredients–add some cheese to it. Sprinkle rest of cheese on top.
Put in oven 1/2 to 3/4 of an hour, 350 degrees. No lid.