Have you ever had chicken spaghetti? I will confess that growing up, this was one of my least favorite things my mom made. We called it "chicken tetrazzini" back then. And the weird thing is, I couldn't tell you why I didn't like it. I liked all of the ingredients...spaghetti, chicken, mushrooms...there was nothing I had to pick out or around...I could just never finish it, and it was never something I asked for. My sister loved it though, so we would have it on occasion.
A few weeks ago I saw my favorite, Ree Drummand, making a southwestern version on her show. I pretty much LOVE everything she makes, so we gave it a try. Oh my goodness...it's my new favorite!
I changed it up just a bit, including scaling it down (even though we like it, the 2 of us would never have finished the whole giant casserole dish that she makes!). I marinate the chicken in Italian dressing and either roast it in the oven or grill it. It adds a whole extra level of flavor! I also use red bell peppers instead of the pimentos and green peppers. You can make it ahead, and stick it in the oven before dinner the next night, or make it all in one go. Working full time, I usually plan ahead and make the chicken one night, throw it all together the next night, and then pull it out of the fridge the next night and toss it in the oven for 30 minutes. That may sound like a lot....but I find it easier to split up the prep work. Here's my version:
4 chicken tenderloins (or 2 large chicken breasts)
1/2 lb thin spaghetti
4 cups chicken broth (reserve 1 cup of the broth after cooking spaghetti)
1/2 small onion, finely diced
1/3 cup red bell pepper, finely diced
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 & 1/2 cup shredded Colby jack cheese, divided
1/2 t Lowery's seasoning salt
1/8 t cayenne pepper
salt and pepper to taste
cilantro, chopped, for garnish
Marinate the chicken in the Italian dressing for at least 20 minutes. (I like to have it sit overnight!) Roast in oven at 350 for ~15-20 minutes until done or grill, then slice once cooled. Bring the broth to a boil and cook spaghetti al dente according to package directions. Add water to the pot if more liquid is needed. Once the spaghetti is cooked, remember to scoop out 1 cup of the broth and reserve for later.
If desired, toss the bell pepper and onions in some olive oil and saute on the stove in a medium pan for 1-2 minutes. (This will take the edge off of the raw vegetables, but still leave them nice and crunchy.) In a large mixing bowl, combine the spaghetti, chicken, peppers and onions, cream of mushroom soup, and 1 cup of the shredded cheese. Season with the seasoning salt and cayenne pepper. Add salt and pepper to taste if needed. Next, add 1/2 cup of the broth and stir. If more liquid is needed, then add more a little at a time. Pour into a 8 x 8 casserole dish and top with the remaining 1/2 cup of cheese. Bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes, until bubbly. Serve immediately and garnish each serving with cilantro if desired.