Traditional Chicken Tetrazzini’s creamy sauce contains lots of butter, milk and cheese so it can’t help but be indulgent. My Lighter Chicken Tetrazzini gives you all the taste of the original recipe but it’s just that little bit healthier. I wouldn’t dream of calling it ‘low calorie’ or ‘low fat’ but it’s definitely lighter.
Replacing part of the milk with chicken stock was the first step in developing this recipe. I found it was still a good idea to use two percent or half fat milk as skimmed made the dish taste a bit watery. I also replaced the butter with olive oil which is lower in saturated fat and I also used extra vegetables so I could cut down on the amount of meat required for the dish. Of course, it’s still important to use a fair amount of chicken as it is, after all, Chicken Tetrazzini!
I use a lot less cheese in this recipe than most traditional Chicken Tetrazzini recipes call for. The beauty of Parmesan cheese is its very strong flavour and you honestly don’t need as much of it as many folks use to get a really tasty sauce. One proviso, you must use freshly grated Parmesan. Please don’t buy those room temperature packages of pre-grated Parmesan cheese you find in the pasta aisle. They are full of preservatives and the stuff inside the package tastes about as much like proper Parmesan cheese as mud tastes like chocolate.
You may notice that the pasta in my Lighter Chicken Tetrazzini is curly. Although spaghetti is the traditional pasta for this delicious dish I like to use Fusilli Lunghi. These long, elegant twirls of spaghetti resemble old fashioned telephone cords. Of course, it’s perfectly fine to use ordinary spaghetti if you prefer.
As I’m going for the lighter side of things when it comes to this recipe, I like to serve it with a fresh green salad lightly dressed with some good olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
Lighter Chicken Tetrazzini
- 8 ounces fusilli lunghi or spaghetti
- 4 tablespoons mild olive oil divided
- 2 medium leeks cleaned and thinly sliced
- 1 red pepper de-seeded and finely sliced
- 1 cup sliced mushrooms
- 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
- ½ cup chicken stock
- 1½ to 2 cups milk
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- 1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese divided
- 1 cup finely chopped cooked chicken breast 1 to 2 chicken breasts depending on size
- ¾ cup slivered almonds
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (170°C).
- Bring a large pot of water to the boil and add a pinch of salt.
- Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat.
- Sauté the leeks for 2 to 3 minutes.
- Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil to the pan along with the red pepper and mushrooms.
- Sauté the vegetables for a further 3 or 4 minutes until they have begun to soften.
- Meanwhile, cook the pasta in the pot of boiling salted water according to package directions.
- When the vegetables in the frying pan have begun to soften, sprinkle the flour on top and stir though.
- Cook for a minute or two.
- Gradually add the chicken stock, stirring and allowing the sauce to thicken after each addition.
- Gradually add the milk, stirring and allowing the sauce to thicken after each addition. After you have added about 1¼ cups milk, stir in the pepper and all but three tablespoons of the Parmesan cheese. Set the remaining cheese aside.
- Check the thickness of the sauce. You want a smooth sauce that will cling nicely to the pasta, so if necessary add a bit more milk until this consistency is achieved.
- Stir the chicken and ½ cup of the slivered almonds into the sauce.
- When the pasta is cooked, drain it and return to the saucepan.
- Add the chicken, vegetable and cheese sauce to the pasta and stir gently but thoroughly to coat.
- Transfer the mixture to lightly greased 13 x 9 inch casserole dish and sprinkle with the remaining almonds and Parmesan cheese.
- Bake in the oven for 25 to 30 minutes until the top of the casserole is beginning to turn golden brown.
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