Cooking is Cheaper than Therapy: Turkey Tetrazzini

It's the weekend after a busy Thanksgiving, and you've had your fill of turkey sandwiches. Looking for something easy, yet different? Tetrazzini could be the answer. What is "Tetrazzini," you ask? 

Tetrazzini is an American dish created around the early 1900's.  The chef at the Palace Hotel in San Francisco, CA named this dish after their long time resident, Italian opera star, Luisa Tetrazzini. The ingredients are easy to assemble as it is basically turkey in a cream sauce, with spaghetti, cheese, and mushrooms. The turkey can be exchanged for chicken, or even canned tuna. Many of us Baby Boomers may remember this creation from our mother's kitchen - it was considered rather "fancy." However, this recipe is not your mama's Turkey Tetrazzini, so put away that can of Cream of Mushroom soup. 

No Cream of Mushroom soup here. We're using the real thing! 
There is a bit of prep time, but once it is all gathered, the dish goes together really quick. Be aware, this casserole makes around 10-12 servings, so I found it perfect for freezing. Not only did I get three 5x7" casseroles for freezing, but the extra was dinner for the evening. 

The recipe asks for four cups of broth. I made my own with parts of the turkey that I usually do not serve, but store bought is fine. Chicken broth will also work if that is what's in your pantry. Note: the recipe asks for a cup of dry white wine. Any Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio/Gris, Sauvignon Blanc, or Semillion will do, just stay away from the sweet white wines - - and whatever dry white wine you choose, the open bottle won't go to waste. Serve and pour the remaining that evening with the Turkey Tetrazzini. The crisp dry white wine will balance out the creaminess and cheesiness of the casserole. This is a great example of "if the wine isn't fit to drink, then don't cook with it." Now, start cooking. 


1.5 lbs Dry Spaghetti, broken in half
4 Tablespoons Butter (or 2 Tablespoons of Butter and 2 Tablespoons of Olive Oil)
4 cloves Garlic, minced
1 pound White Button Mushrooms, sliced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup White Wine
1/3 cup Flour
4 cups (or more) Turkey (or Chicken) Broth
8 oz block of Cream Cheese, softened
3 cups Cooked Turkey, shredded or diced
1 cup Black Olives, sliced
1-1/2 cup Frozen Green Peas
4 slices Bacon, fried and chopped
1 cup grated Monterey Jack Cheese (or Asiago, Swiss or any white semi-soft will work)
1 cup grated Parmesan Cheese (or Romano or mixture of both)

Salt and cracked ground pepper to taste

Optional: one small jar of pimentos (adds color, but also a classic in the old Tetrazinni recipes of the 1950-60's). Bread crumbs to top the casserole before baking. If you are freezing the casseroles, I would wait and add fresh bread crumbs before baking. 

Break spaghetti in half and cook according to package instructions, but important to cook just to al dente.  This will make a difference when freezing or baking in the oven. Drain, rinse, and set aside.

In a separate large pot, heat butter or butter and oil mixture over medium-high heat. Add minced garlic and saute for a couple of minutes. Add the sliced mushrooms and saute until done, add salt, then saute for a few more minutes. While the mushrooms are hot, pour in the wine. Allow it to simmer with the mushrooms for a few minutes until the liquid is reduced to at least half. 

Gradually sprinkle in flour, then gently stir the mushrooms around for another minute. Slowly pour the broth in the mushroom mixture and continue stirring until the roux (flour and butter) thickens. The mixture doesn't have to be too thick. Reduce heat to medium-low. Cut the softened cream cheese into pieces and add to the same pot. Slowly stir to melt. There may be a few bits of the cream cheese lingering, but it will eventually melt. Add the turkey, olives, peas, chopped bacon, and cheeses. Stir to combine, and add salt and pepper to taste.  

Add the cooked spaghetti to the sauce mixture. Add more broth as needed. If the mixture seems a bit "soupy," not a problem. A little extra moisture will cook off in the oven. Add up to 2 more cups of broth as necessary. 

Pour the finished pasta and sauce mixture into a large baking pan, or casserole dish, or several meal size baking dishes. Freeze or bake immediately. Before baking, sprinkle the top with grated cheese and/or bread crumbs. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes, or until the casserole is bubbly and the top is golden brown.

Ready for the Freezer


  1. Thank you. I used to make this all the time but forgot how good it is and lost my recipe.

  2. Thanks Molly! Enjoy, and thanks for dropping by.


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