Lightened-Up Chicken Tetrazzini

It boggles my mind when I meet someone who says they rarely or never cook. Cooking to me isn’t just about putting dinner on the table. Cooking brings me so much joy because it holds the ability to create comfort and memories and bring people together in a joyful, intimate way. I enjoy cooking on a regular basis, but especially for special occasions, whether it’s an anniversary dinner, holiday party or family get-together. Earlier this week, I enjoyed cooking simply to bring a little cheer on a particularly cheer-less day.

When I got a text message from my boyfriend about how busy and stressed he was feeling, my mind immediately turned to what I could do to cheer him up a little. I remembered him mentioning tetrazzini before, but never having made it before, I put off testing the recipe. But now was the perfect time!

I began reading various recipes for tetrazzini, and while it looked delicious, it also looked a little (okay, a lot) heavy on the butter and cream. So my challenge was to make my dish equally as delicious but a little more healthy. In order to make lightened-up tetrazzini, I adapted this recipe and made a few healthy swaps.

Ingredients:

-1 whole rotisserie chicken (feel free to cook up 4-5 chicken breasts — I opted for the pre-cooked chicken to save time)

-1 large yellow onion

-5 garlic cloves

-3 8-oz packages mushrooms (I used one package baby bellas and two packages of white mushrooms)

-1 tbsp chopped fresh thyme

-1/4 cup chopped Italian parsley

-1/3 cup flour

-4 tbsp unsalted butter

-Vegetable oil

-4 cups whole milk

-1 cup Greek yogurt (I used this instead of heavy cream)

-1 cup chicken broth

-1/2 cup white wine (optional)

-12 oz whole wheat pasta (I used wide noodles)

-1 package frozen peas

-1 cup grated Parmesan

-1 cup whole wheat Italian-style bread crumbs

-Spices: Nutmeg, cinnamon, crushed red chili flakes, garlic powder, smoked paprika, cumin, dried oregano, salt and pepper

-1 baking dish (I used a bowl-shaped casserole dish, but a 13 x 9 x 2 would work well)

Instructions:

If you’re cooking your own chicken, first cook the meat using the method of your choice. Next, shred your chicken (either home-cooked or store-bought) into bite size pieces and place in large bowl.

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Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees F.

Clean mushroom, and slice into bite-size pieces. Chop up onion, garlic and thyme, and set aside. Heat up 1 tbsp butter and 1 tbsp oil in large pan over medium-high heat. Saute mushrooms for 2-3 minutes. Add onion, garlic and thyme, and saute for additional 8-10 minutes. Add wine (optional), and simmer for 2-3 more minutes. Transfer mushroom mixture to the bowl with your chicken.

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Using the same pan, melt 3 tbsp butter over medium-low heat. Add flour and whisk for 2-3 minutes. Whisk in milk, yogurt, chicken broth, nutmeg and salt and pepper. Bring sauce to a boil, and then reduce to a simmer. Let sauce simmer for 10-12 minutes until it thickens, and be sure to whisk constantly. Turn off the heat.

Cook your pasta according to package directions, drain, and then add pasta, peas and parsley (chopped) to the bowl with the chicken and mushrooms. Next, carefully pour the sauce into the bowl. Mix all the ingredients together, seasoning to taste.

Prepare a baking dish by spraying sides and bottom with cooking spray. Pour all of the pasta mixture into the dish and spread out evenly. In a small bowl, mix together parmesan and bread crumbs, and the sprinkle mixture all over the pasta. Lightly drizzle the top of the dish with vegetable oil.

Bake pasta, uncovered, for 25 minutes, until top is golden brown and bubbly. (Tip: Place baking dish on a baking sheet covered in aluminum foil for easy clean up in case the dish bubbles over.)

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I hope you enjoy as much as we did!

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