If you like a Tetrazzini, you will love this vegetarian version that is filled with mushroom flavor. There’s a baked version with crispy top as well!
Like much of the east coast, we had a beautiful snowfall this week. I love a snow day of cooking or baking, making a big mess in the kitchen while waiting for the flakes to stop. This recipe makes the house smell great, and offers comfort food at its best – hearty, satisfying, and also a healthier take on a classic.
There’s also a baked version which takes more time and does make a bit of a mess, but it is worth it. It is a good Sunday meal where you can make something special without looking at the clock. The time is well spent because unless you have a really full table, there will be lots of leftovers for another day! And you get the bonus of a crispy top!
A birthday wish
When my kids were small, my son’s favorite meal was Turkey Tetrazzini. I’m not sure if it was the pasta, the turkey, or the creamy sauce he loved the best, but it was always his birthday meal request.
That recipe was delicious with its thick creamy sauce. I used milk and cream in my original recipe, and tons of cheese topped it all. I fiddled with this for a while and came up with a really good alternative that everyone in the family can enjoy from gluten- to dairy-free, and those watching cholesterol.
Swap out everything!
Tetrazzini is an American dish, although it might sound like it hails from Italy! It was a way to use up left-over turkey or chicken, swimming in a cream sauce that also included mushrooms, so the mushrooms were a good place to start here. It is hearty and filling, perfect for winter comfort. To lighten this up and make it friendly for everyone in the family, I pretty much swapped out every ingredient, and added a few for more flavor and nutrition. The result is dairy and gluten-free, low in saturated fat and sodium, and filled with far more flavor than the original. I’m not exaggerating here. To me, it is no use making something lighter or more healthful if it doesn’t taste as good!
I use basic white button mushrooms or crimini, because they are flavorful and meaty, inexpensive, and also easy to find. You can use any mushroom you like or have on hand. I bumped up the veggies by adding a couple of cups of blanched broccoli florets and increased the peas. Sometimes I add even more. You could use cauliflower here, or even green beans, use what you like best.
We’ll make the white sauce even better
Even though full of butter, the original sauce could be a little on the bland side. Probably the biggest flavor boost was my homemade mushroom stock which replaced half the liquid in the white sauce. This contributed greatly to the dish. Tasting the milk and mushroom stock together inspired the first “yum” and little happy dance. Making the stock is a habit in my kitchen, a way to extract every drop of flavor from what is usually discarded. The only addition here was dried mushrooms which are extremely flavorful and make a wonderful stock. You can, however, use purchased mushroom or vegetable sauce, but homemade tastes much better and you control the sodium.
Since my husband’s heart attack, we’re had to be really careful about the sodium and saturated fat. A very hefty serving has about 2 grams of saturated fat, and it is from coconut and not animal fat. I’ve included the nutritional information below, calculations courtesy of MyFitnessPal.
The baked version has the best part of the dish – a crunchy topping of breadcrumbs and cheese! However, the stovetop method is much faster, literally can be made in the time it takes to boil and cook the pasta, uses less pots and pans, and is perfect for a weeknight. Your choice.
Mushroom Stock for both recipes:
Dried mushrooms make this stock out of this world. If you haven’t tried them, seek them out. They add so much flavor, so much more than a fresh mushroom. Just look for domestic dried mushrooms, check, you don’t want the ones from China.
For the stock, save all the trimmings from this recipe, the mushroom stems, onion and garlic skins, and toss these in a pot along with an ounce or so of dried mushrooms. Add a quart of water, salt and pepper, bring to a boil, and simmer for 30 minutes. Let sit until you need it, then strain. You can also make a quick stock by simply combining dried mushrooms with boiling water and letting them sit until cool.
Weeknight Stovetop Mushroom Tetrazzini
- 10 oz. whole wheat or brown rice spaghetti
- 1 tbsp. olive oil
- 4 tbsp. vegan or dairy butter
- 12 oz. button or crimini mushrooms, sliced
- 1 onion, sliced
- 3 or 4 garlic cloves, or more
- 1 jalapeno pepper, finely minced
- Pinch of dried thyme
- 1/3 cup dry white wine
- ¼ cup flour
- 1 ½ cups mushroom or vegetable stock, warmed
- 1 ½ cups plant milk, warmed
- 1 cup frozen peas, thawed
- 1 cup broccoli florets, cooked
- 2 scallions, sliced
- ¼ cup minced fresh flat-leafed parsley
Prep all your vegetables and assemble ingredients. Place a large pot of water on to boil. When it is rapidly boiling, stop what else you are doing in the process, salt the water, and drop the pasta. Stir now and then.
Combine the stock and milk and gently warm.
In a large skillet, heat over medium high and add the oil and butter. When butter melts, add the mushrooms and onion. Let these cook until they are almost done and add the garlic, thyme, and hot pepper. This is a good time to season with salt and pepper. Continue cooking until the vegetables are just brown on the edges and cooked through.
Deglaze with the wine, scraping the bottom of the pan, and let cook until the wine is absorbed. Sprinkle with the flour, stir while the flour cooks for at least a minute or so.
Add the milk/stock mixture and continue to stir until nicely thickened. Taste for seasoning. Add the peas, broccoli, scallions, and parsley. Give it a few good stirs and you are done.
Drain the pasta, reserving a half cup or so of the pasta water in case you need to loosen the mushroom mixture before topping the pasta.
Plate the pasta in a shallow bowl and top with the mushroom mixture. Serve while steamy hot.
Baked Mushroom Tetrazzini
- 1 lb. whole wheat or brown rice spaghetti
- 2 tbsp. olive oil
- 1 ½ lbs. white button or crimini mushrooms, sliced
- 1 large onion, sliced
- 4 or 5 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1 jalapeno pepper, finely minced
- ½ tsp. dried thyme
- 1/2 cup white wine
- 2 ½ cups plant milk or dairy milk, warmed
- 2 ½ cup mushroom stock, warmed
- 1/3 cup vegan butter or butter
- 1/3 cup flour
- 1 ½ cup thawed frozen peas
- 2 cups blanched broccoli
- 1/3 cup minced parsley, packed
- 3 scallions, sliced thinly
- ½ cup breadcrumbs
- ½ cup Parmesan or vegan Parmesan cheese
- Butter to dot the top
Prep your vegetables and make your stock as above.
Butter an 8- X 13-inch casserole dish. I used my mom’s Pyrex.
In your largest skillet, heat to medium high and add the olive oil. Add the mushrooms and onions to the pot and saute until there is a little color on them and they soften. Add the garlic, jalapeno, and thyme. Cook a few more minutes, deglaze with the wine, and set aside.
Drop the pasta in the boiling salted water and stir occasionally. You will cook this to a few minutes before the package directions. It will finish in the oven. (If you are working with raw broccoli, drop it first in the water and blanch for a minute. Remove and drain).
Preheat the oven to 450.
Make the white sauce. This will be on the thin side, but will thicken in the oven after you add the pasta and other ingredients. Combine and warm the milk and stock. In a separate saucepan, melt the butter and add the flour. Whisk for a minute or two to cook the flour. Slowly add the milk mixture, whisking and then switching to a wooden spoon. Simmer until thickened.
Add the sauce to the mushroom mixture, then fish out the pasta to the pot as well. Stir in the peas, broccoli, parsley, and scallions. You might have to do this in a large bowl if your pan is not large enough! Dump this all into the buttered casserole.
Level everything out, sprinkle the breadcrumbs evenly, followed by the Parm. Dot with additional butter.
Place the casserole on a baking sheet and pop in the oven, middle rack, for 30 minutes. Turn around to evenly brown, and cook an additional 10 minutes, or until the top is crusty and you see bubbles around the edges.
Let cool for 20 minutes. It’s hard, but necessary!
Nutrition Facts (10 servings of baked version) Calories 331, Total Fat 11 g, Saturated fat 3 g (dairy), Sodium 221 mg, Potassium 446 mg, Total Carbohydrate 49 g, Dietary Fiber 4 g, Protein 10 g, Vitamin A 6 %, Vitamin C 11 %, Calcium 7 %, Iron 9 %
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