Sunday Supper: Tetrazzini

Chicken Marsala Tetrazzini; Photo: Beth Dreiling Hontzas; Styling: Buffy Hargett.

Whether it's a succulent pot roast, cheesy casserole, or warming, savory stew, we love Sunday supper. It's a dinner party without the formality, where family and friends gather for easy conversation and good food – lots of it!

This week, make the delicious baked cheesy noodle dish, tetrazzini. Sift through your grandmother's recipe box and tetrazzini is likely to be one of the recipes you'll find, along with tuna noodle casserole, sweet potato pie and baked beans. While it has many variations, a classic tetrazzini pairs turkey, chicken or seafood with a mixture of sliced mushrooms, peas, almonds, thin pasta noodles, cream of mushroom soup and Parmesan cheese.

Luisa Tetrazzini, a world-renowned Italian opera singer from the early 1900s, inspired the dish's creation. As the story goes, she made her American debut in San Francisco, lived at the ritzy Palace Hotel and fell in love with the city.

On Christmas Eve in 1910, Tetrazzini belted her powerful soprano notes out over city streets in a free outdoor concert for San Franciscans. It was her way of thanking the city that had welcomed her so warmly into the United States. Ernest Arbogast, the chef of the Palace Hotel restaurant, most likely invented the dish to honor the famed singer.

Luisa Tetrazzini's concert on Christmas Eve; Courtesy Susan Saperstein, SF City Guides.

To celebrate this opera great, we've rounded up some of our favorite tetrazzini recipes for you to try. And while you're cooking, why not set the mood by listening to Luisa Tetrazzini's masterpieces? Start with "Saper Vorreste," from Italian composer Verdi's Un Ballo in Maschera. We have absolutely no idea what she's singing about, but no matter, her voice is stunning.

Chicken Tetrazzini

Chicken Tetrazzini with Prosciutto and Peas

For more comforting casserole ideas, check out our Quick-Fix Casseroles.

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