I love to cook, I love to work in my kitchen, but some days I just want to come home and find dinner on the table and this was one of those days. A cooked chicken breast and left-over whole wheat spaghetti presented the possibility of chicken tetrazzini and I could use the lovely Mexican casserole dish L.& J. gave me. This would be a quick dish to put together, except for making the cream sauce. I didn’t have cream or mushrooms or chicken stock, so it wouldn’t be the sauce I would really like to make. And I was too hungry to take the time to make a sauce anyway.
However, there was a can of Campbell’s Cream of Poblano Soup that could stand in for the sauce. Why not? Once I made that decision, the tetrazinni came together quickly. Diced chicken (or left-over turkey from Christmas dinner if you have it), spaghetti, chopped red bell pepper and minced parsley for color, some garlic, a little bit of dry thyme, grated Parmesan as a topping. And frozen peas. Maybe it wouldn’t exactly be a tetrazzini, but it would be close enough.
A vegetarian version could be made by substituting baked tofu for the chicken. This is tofu that is already seasoned and cooked, and rather dense, making its texture closer to meat than that of uncooked tofu. It is a good stand-in for meat or poultry. You can find it in natural food stores.
The grocery stores in Mexico stock canned soups preferred by the Mexican palate. Cream of Poblano Soup is always in the stores, but I have never seen it on a restaurant menu or served in a home. Nor have I known of anyone making it from scratch. The canned version contains corn kernals, which added color and flavor. If you don’t have Cream of Poblano soup, you could use Cream of Mushroom soup with optional sautéed fresh or frozen green chile. Or take the time and make a real cream sauce and add sliced mushrooms.
You can follow a recipe for Tetrazzini if you wish. Joy of Cooking is a good place to start, but this is a dish that doesn’t need measurements. Your eye will know how much you want of what.
Sauté the chopped bell pepper in a few tablespoons of olive oil until tender. Add the minced parsely and minced garlic and cook another minute. Add the canned soup, a pinch of thyme and enough milk for a sauce-like consistency. Let it simmer a few minutes.
Add the cubed chicken and cooked spaghetti. By volume, I used about equal amounts. Once that is hot, stir in some frozen peas. When everything is gently bubbling, spoon it into a casserole dish, top it with Parmesan cheese, and run it under the broiler until the cheese starts to brown a bit. Add a salad and dinner is served. If I hadn’t been so hungry and in such a hurry, a splash of sherry added to the sauce and a sprinkle of sliced almonds mixed in with the pasta and chicken would have been a nice touch.