First up is an update of a 1928 recipe from my dad’s mother’s The Woman’s Club of Fort Worth Cook Book. I used fresh mushrooms instead of canned, added red bell pepper and green peas for color, and included garlic and herbs for to enliven the works. A little cream sauce goes in place of preservative-laden canned soup, and grated cheeses richen the dish. I happen to love buttered bread crumbs, but I had on hand a can of crispy onions — and these made a terrific crunchy topping. For a pretty finish, there’s chopped Italian parsley and oregano from our garden.

Adapted from The Woman’s Club of Fort Worth Cook Book, published in 1928.

Serves 8 to 10

  • 1 pound thin spaghetti, broken into 2- to 3-inch pieces
  • 8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (or 6 boneless, skinless breasts)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped yellow onion
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • 1 cup mixture diced red and green bell pepper
  • 1 cup sliced mushrooms
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup green peas (frozen, thawed)
  • 2 teaspoons each fresh thyme and oregano leaves (or dried)
  • 1 teaspoon oregano leaves, chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ cups half-and-half
  • 1 ½ cups shredded Italian cheese blend (such as mozzarella, provolone, romano, parmesan and asiago), divided use
  • 1 cup buttered bread or cracker crumbs
  • Italian parsley, chopped, for garnish

Cook spaghetti according to package directions, just to al dente. Drain and set aside.

Bring pot of salted water to boil and add chicken, stirring once; reduce to simmer and allow chicken to cook gently for about 10 minutes or until cooked through. Drain (reserving chicken broth), cool and shred chicken. Set aside.

In large pan, heat oil over medium heat and add celery, carrots, bell pepper, mushrooms and garlic, stirring to cook until vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes. Add peas and seasonings and stir to combine. If mixture becomes dry, add reserved chicken broth, a little at a time. Add flour, stirring until combined. Add half-and-half slowly, stirring. Continue to stir over medium-low heat until a smooth, thick sauce has formed. Remove from heat and stir in cooked spaghetti, chicken and half the cheese.

A simple spinach salad with grape tomatoes and herb vinaigrette is perfect alongside.

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