There is rarely a comfort food I will turn my back on.
Anything with noodles, creamy sauce and a modicum of leftover turkey meat—because when you cook a turkey, there will always be leftovers—gets high marks in my book.
Turkey Tetrazzini is a holiday and potluck favorite. But is there anything that can make a good thing better? I was up for that challenge and set out to prove that it could indeed be done, and if I may say so and dare pat myself on the back, the votes are in, and indeed, success is mine.
So what is my secret ingredient to take this classic to a new level of goodness? California Avocados, of course.
Many recipes for Turkey Tetrazzini call for cream to thicken the sauce. I’ve replaced the cream with a simple butter and flour roux that’s thickened with chicken broth instead. Then we amp up the flavor and the thickening power by blending avocados into the velvety cheese sauce.
Not only are we adding the avocado’s delicious flavor but we’re replacing the majority of cream’s saturated fat with good fats from the avocado.
It’s a win-win all the way around, and a new comfort food that I’ll embrace with open arms. Okay, make that open mouth.
AVOCADO TURKEY TETRAZZINI
16 ounces spaghetti noodles
8 tablespoons butter, divided, plus more for the baking dish
1 clove garlic, pressed
½ pound cremini mushrooms, trimmed and sliced
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves, stems removed
Freshly ground black pepper and kosher salt
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups chicken or turkey broth
¼ cup dry white wine
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided, plus more for garnish
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Juice from 1 lemon
2 ripe, Fresh California Avocados, seeded, halved and peeled
2 cups frozen peas, thawed
4 cups shredded turkey
1/3 cup dry bread crumbs
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Cook the noodles in salted water according to package directions or until al dente. Reserve ¼ cup of the pasta water, drain the pasta and transfer to a large bowl then set aside.
Meanwhile heat melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a large sauté pan over medium heat. When butter melts, add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds or until fragrant. Add the mushrooms and onions and cook until the vegetables are softened, about 10 minutes. Stir in the fresh thyme leaves and season with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.
In a separate saucepan, melt 6 tablespoons butter over medium heat then whisk in the flour, stirring constantly until the flour smells nutty and is lightly golden, about 2 minutes. Add the broth and raise the temperature to medium high, whisking constantly until the mixture thickens, about 3-5 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the wine. Transfer the mixture to a blender and add the avocado halves. Cover the blender but leave the plastic center of the blender topper off to vent the heat from the sauce. Blend for 1 minute or until smooth. Add ¾ cup of the Parmesan cheese, grated nutmeg and lemon juice and mix to combine.
Pour the avocado sauce over the pasta, add the peas, turkey and reserved mushroom mixture and mix well to combine. Taste for seasoning and add more kosher salt or pepper to taste. If mixture is too thick, add a little reserved pasta broth until creamy.
Melt the remaining tablespoon of butter in the microwave. Add the bread crumbs and reserved ¼ cup Parmesan cheese to a small dish and drizzle with the melted butter. Toss to combine.
Prepare a 13 by 9-inch baking dish with butter. Pour in the spaghetti mixture and sprinkle with the bread crumb mixture.
Bake for 15 minutes or until the mixture is bubbly and the top is golden brown. Serve immediately.