Foodies probably don’t like to admit it, but nearly everyone loves a good casserole.
Trouble is, casseroles don’t have a lot of love for healthy diets. Especially when you reach back to the ’60s, an era of classic casseroles like turkey tetrazzini that were made all the more delicious with the help of gobs of heavy cream, butter and cheese.
So without sacrificing the “creamy” comfort of the dish, we set out to make a delicious casserole minus the guilt.
As with traditional versions of this dish, we started out with leftover turkey. Be sure to use the leaner turkey breast and trim off any skin or fat. If you don’t happen have cooked turkey handy, a rotisserie turkey breast or chicken from the grocer would be fine.
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We also kept the mushrooms, though we opted for fresh ones over the canned variety favored back in the day. We threw in some chopped red bell pepper and chopped asparagus, too. Color in vegetables adds more than just eye appeal; different colors are indicative of different nutrients. So the more color, the better.
But the real heavy hitters in this casserole are the white pasta, cream sauce and cheese.
The pasta was an easy fix. Using whole-grain pasta adds lots of fiber and nutrients. The cream sauce was another matter. We used fat-free half-and-half as our base, but you also could substitute fat-free evaporated milk. Thickened up to a creamy consistency, without the use of half a stick of butter, we were off to a good start.
Lastly, instead of using a cup or more of shredded cheese, we used just a bit of assertive Parmesan. Then we topped it all off with seasoned panko breadcrumbs for a nice crunch.