Tetrazzini

This rich, filling casserole is a wonderful comfort food for chilly days!  It’s made with real ingredients–no canned soup–yet it’s fairly easy to put together.  Turkey Tetrazzini is traditional, but my family usually doesn’t eat meat other than fish, so we most often make Tetrazzini with canned Alaskan salmon.  We’ve also made it with cubes of tofu.

I started with a recipe that I copied out of a magazine (I think it was Redbook) when I was in college.  I’ve made a few modifications to the seasoning and rewritten the instructions in an order that I can follow confidently–instead of finding that I’ve forgotten crucial steps so that the sauce gets lumpy while I race around insanely.  I’m a person who usually avoids making white sauce, but it’s worth it for delicious Tetrazzini!

This recipe is easily modified to use odds and ends that you happen to have on hand.  Only the sauce ingredients really need to be measured; all the other quantities are approximate.  Don’t have peas?  Cauliflower or broccoli or some other vegetable can be substituted. Don’t have as much salmon (or alternative protein) as the recipe says?  Throw in more vegetables.  Use up pasta, fish/meat, cheese, or vegetables left over from another meal–it’s a great way to make Thanksgiving turkey taste different!–or purposely cook extra of these ingredients when making another meal and then make Tetrazzini a day or two later.  The quantity of bell pepper in this recipe is less than a whole pepper, so it’s perfect for using up a random leftover chunk.

To make 6 servings, you will need:

  • 3 cups cooked pasta.  Whole-wheat is fine.  If it’s spaghetti or linguine, break it into pieces 3-4 inches long.  (If you have full-length spaghetti that was already cooked before you decided to use it in Tetrazzini, just stick a butter knife into it and cut in various directions until it’s chopped up.)
  • 2 1/2 cups cooked, flaked salmon (or protein of your choice)
  • 1/4 cup diced bell pepper (optional)
  • 1 cup diced olives. We prefer black olives, but green ones will work too.
  • 1 cup diced mushrooms.  They can be raw or previously cooked.
  • 1 cup peas. These can be frozen when you add them, as long as they aren’t clumped together too much.
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup white flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. black or white pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 cups broth.  We use instant vegetable broth from the bulk section of the food co-op.
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup grated cheese.  Provolone or mozzarella is best, but monterey jack or cheddar is fine.  If it was frozen, the cheese does need to be thawed before adding.
  • a saucepan large enough to hold all the ingredients, with room to stir
  • a wire whisk
  • a large spoon
  • a 2-quart casserole dish, two bread pans, or other deep baking pan(s)

Get all the ingredients ready to use: Cook the pasta, cut up the vegetables, grate the cheese, make the broth from dry mix or open the can–if any of these things needs to be done–and measure the milk.

Preheat oven to 350F.

Measure flour, salt, pepper, and nutmeg and mix together.  (I usually mix them in a measuring cup; the milk is waiting in another measuring cup.)

Melt butter in saucepan over low heat. Gradually add flour mixture, whisking it in. Cook over low heat until smooth and bubbly.

Whisk in broth and milk. Turn up the heat to bring it to a boil. Boil 1 minute, whisking constantly to prevent lumps.

Turn off heat. Using a large spoon, mix in the pasta, salmon, and vegetables.

Transfer the mixture to the baking pan(s). Top with cheese.

Bake uncovered 25-30 minutes. Let cool 10 minutes before serving.

Visit the Hearth & Soul Blog Hop and Real Food Friday and Tasty Tuesday for more cozy, comforting recipes!  Visit Works-for-Me Wednesday and Mom’s Library for lots of great tips!

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7 thoughts on “Tetrazzini

  1. Yum – this sounds delicious! I love casserole on a cold day – the ultimate comfort food! I wonder how well this freezes? I usually make a full recipe and then cut it in half (or sometimes thirds if large enough) since it’s only my husband and I now, and freeze half for another day. Thanks for the recipe!

    • I haven’t tried freezing this recipe. It makes two meals’ worth for us, but we eat the leftovers for lunches. Because it is fairly wet, it might change in consistency when frozen and thawed, but probably not much. My best guess is that you should let it cool to room temperature and then freeze it with very little empty space above it in the container, so that the water doesn’t evaporate into yucky ice crystals on top.

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