Cooking With Campbell’s

Turkey Tetrazzini

I admit it – I cook with Campbell’s soup!   Are you a foodie-friend shooting me a withering look of disdain?  Pity?  Whatever.   Some of us can’t cook Julia Child every night.  And yes, some of the dishes from “Treasury of Campbell’s Recipes,” a cookbook of my mom’s from the early ’90s, have names like “Easy Chicken Paprikash” as if “easy” were a flavor.  Not to mention “Shortcut Tuna Lasagna” and “Foolproof Beef and Broccoli” and “Everyday Broccoli Cheese Chicken.”  But last night, I made “Turkey Tetrazzini.”  A nice, moderately sophisticated name that doesn’t even have “casserole” in it – although that’s just what it is.

A word on casseroles wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the essential reading – MFK Fisher’s “Neither Censure Nor Disdain.”  The essay appeared in the fabulous anthology “Secret Recipes: The New Yorker Book of Food and Drink.”  Fisher begins her contemplation of this most common American dish as such: 

Yet, the “Turkey Tetrazzini” was created in America.  San Francisco, in fact, in the early 1900s.  Apparently, it was named after Luisa Tetrazzini, an Italian opera star.  (When I say “apparently,” I mean according to Wikipedia.)  I guess the name stuck.  Suits me – a quarter of my family is Italian and I like to believe us Italians have made big and lasting contributions to this country.

The key ingredients are Campbell’s condensed Cream of Mushroom soup and turkey leftovers – perfect for the season, right?   You mix that with milk, Parmesan cheese, onion, sour cream and zucchini (but I substituted eggplant from a local Japanese market).  Then add cooked spaghetti, spoon it all into a Pyrex dish and stick it in the oven for half and hour.  It was delicious – a total comfort food made elegant with cilantro garnish.

I am reminded that casseroles need not stand for mediocrity.  How can they, when “casseroles are here to stay for a long time,” as Fisher suggests?  She writes:

* * * 

Consider this the first in a series about the food I cook called “Lotus Kitchen.”  Be warned: there just may be more Campbell’s.


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