Makes 6 to 8 servings.
“Contrary to popular belief, chicken tetrazzini was served at many upscale restaurants throughout the United States in the early 1900s. The dish was inspired and named after the great Italian opera star, Luisia Tetrazzini, and it was widely popular. If fact, it was so popular that everyone began trying to re-create the famous dish in their homes, and it lost its appeal as a gourmet delicacy in fine dining establishments. Lucky for us at home, we can still enjoy this amazingly good comfort dish with our family and friends, unfettered by any unnecessary pretenses. Typically, it is made with heavy creams and lots of butter, but we have found some healthier substitutions, such as low-fat cream cheese, which still provides the decadence and creaminess of the original. The opera isn’t over until the fat lady sings, but this much lighter version of a comfort food favorite will leave you enjoying the music!”
1/2 (16-oz.) box spaghetti
3 whole boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 tbl. olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tbl. unsalted butter
1 cup finely chopped onion
1 cup finely chopped celery
1 (8-oz.) container sliced button mushrooms
3/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup dry sherry
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 (10-3/4-oz.) can low-sodium chicken broth
1 (4-oz.) pkg. low-fat cream cheese
1-1/3 cups grated Parmesan cheese (5-1/2 ozs.)
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly coat a 9x13-inch casserole dish with cooking spray.
2. Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil. Break the spaghetti in half and cook according to package directions. Drain the pasta and set aside.
3. Coat the chicken pieces with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place the chicken on a baking sheet and bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until no longer pink. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and let the chicken cool. When cool enough to handle, dice it and set aside.
4. In same pot as you cooked the noodles in, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onion, celery and mushrooms, and cook, stirring, until soft, about 8 minutes. Season with the salt, add the sherry, and cook for about 1 minute. Gradually add the flour to the pot while stirring to coat the vegetables. Cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture is thick.
5. Begin gradually adding the chicken broth while stirring constantly. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to low. Simmer for about 5 minutes or until thickened. Add the cream cheese and stir until melted. Combine 1 cup of the Parmesan cheese, the pasta and cooked chicken. Add to the vegetables and stir until combined. Pour the mixture into the prepared casserole dish.
6. Mix the bread crumbs with the remaining 1/3 cup of Parmesan cheese in a small mixing bowl. Sprinkle the topping evenly over the casserole. Bake for 30 minutes or until bubbly and browned on top. Let the casserole rest for 10 minutes before serving.