1 tablespoon butter
1 cup finely chopped onion
2/3 cup finely chopped celery
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 (8 oz. each) packages pre-sliced mushrooms
1/2 cup dry sherry
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
3 (14.5 oz. each) cans fat-free, less sodium chicken broth
2 1/4 cups (9 oz.) grated fresh Parmesan cheese, divided
1/2 cup (4 oz.) 1/3-less-fat cream cheese
7 cups hot cooked vermicelli (about 1 pound uncooked pasta)
4 cups chopped cooked chicken breast (about 1 1/2 pounds)
Dry bread crumbs
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt butter in a large stockpot coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Add onion, celery, pepper, salt and mushrooms; saute 4 minutes or until mushrooms are tender. Add sherry; cook 1 minute. Lightly spoon flour into a measuring cup; level with a knife. Gradually add broth, stirring constantly. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat. Add 1 3/4 cups Parmesan cheese and cream cheese, stirring with a whisk until cream cheese melts. Add the pasta and the chicken, and stir until blended. Divide the pasta mixture between 2 (8-inch square) aluminum baking dishes coated with cooking spray. Combine 1/2 cup bread crumbs with 1/2 cups Parmesan cheese; sprinkle evenly over pasta mixture.
Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove casserole from oven, let stand 15 minutes.
Yield: 2 casseroles, 6 servings each
To Freeze Unbaked Casserole: After spreading bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese over casseroles, cool them completely in the refrigerator. Cover tightly with plastic wrap, pressing to remove as much air as possible. Wrap with heavy-duty aluminum foil. Store in freezer up to 2 months.
To Prepare Frozen Unbaked Casserole: Thaw casserole completely in refrigerator (about 24 hours). Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Remove foil; reserve foil. Remove plastic wrap; discard plastic wrap. Cover casserole with reserved foil; bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake an additional 1 hour or until golden and bubbly. Let stand 15 minutes.