All my life I’ve heard of Turkey Tetrazzini al Forno though I’d never had it before. It certainly has an old-world name so I assumed it had all the charm of an authentic Italian pasta dish – rustic enough to be romantic and satisfying enough to be an essential dish in an Italian kitchen. But I was wrong.
Like all pasta al forno recipes, this is a satisfying and generously unfussy dish, designed to feed many (or just a few many times). Cheesy, with its strings of cheddar bechemel stretching from oven dish to plate, it hits all the marks for first-class comfort food. Everyone likes spaghetti and cheese, don’t they?
What is Tetrazzini?
Tetrazzini is a baked pasta dish purportedly named after the Italian opera singer Luisa Tetrazzini. Despite its symphonious name, it’s actually mid-century American, not Italian. The turkey should have been a giveaway…
It’s made with pantry staples and lends itself to all sorts of variations. This means it doesn’t require trips to the Italian market for hard-to-find pasta shapes, artisan cheese, or the very best canned tomatoes from Italy. In other words, it’s good food while I’m staying in avoiding my usual round-up of three stores, the farmers market, and a butcher shop to get dinner to the table.
Having never made or even eaten it before I did some googling and decided that tetrazzini is something that everyone adapts their way. I used chicken instead of turkey and a smattering of whatever colorful vegetables I had on hand. I served it with a great big pile of crisp lettuce leaves and herbs simply dressed in olive oil and lemon from my tree.
In retrospect, I wonder if Chicken Tetrazzini is all that different from Chicken a la King! But I can’t say for sure because I’ve never made that before either…
Oh well. My recipe may not have the romantic pedigree its name suggests but it does have a flourish of fantasy nonetheless. The best part might just be tomorrow mid-day when I imagine myself scarfing the last portion of tetrazzini standing in front of the open refrigerator eating it straight from the dish. GREG