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Creamy Shells with Tuna and Spinach

This update to the old-fashioned tuna casserole is just as delicious as you remember: It gets a fresh taste from spinach and a fun shape from shells.

  • prep: 30 mins
    total time: 50 mins
  • servings: 4

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced small
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
  • 4 cups whole milk
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 1 hamburger bun, torn into large pieces
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan
  • 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
  • 1 package (10 ounces) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and excess liquid squeezed out
  • 2 cans (6 ounces each) light tuna in water, drained and flaked
  • 6 ounces jumbo pasta shells (about 20), cooked according to package instructions

Cook's Note

Toss Together a Salad:
In a large bowl, whisk together 1 tablespoon each red-wine vinegar and extra-virgin olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon sugar, and 1/4 teaspoon Italian seasoning. Season with coarse salt and ground pepper. Add 3/4 head iceberg lettuce, chopped, and 1 tomato, cut into wedges. Toss to combine.

Directions

  1. Step 1

    Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a medium pot, heat oil over medium-high. Add onion and cook until softened, about 6 minutes. Add flour and cook, stirring constantly, 1 minute. Gradually add milk, whisking constantly, and cook until slightly thickened and bubbling, about 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and let sauce cool slightly.

  2. Step 2

    In a food processor, combine bun, Parmesan, Italian seasoning, and red-pepper flakes. Process until fine crumbs form. Transfer half the mixture to a large bowl and combine with spinach, tuna, and half the sauce; season with salt and pepper. Fill each shell with 2 heaping tablespoons spinach mixture and place in a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Top with remaining sauce and breadcrumb mixture. Bake until sauce is bubbling and breadcrumbs are golden, about 20 minutes.

Source
Everyday Food, March 2012

Reviews (6)

  • 7 Apr, 2014

    Although this recipe sounds good, I would add garlic, hot pepper flakes, plus some jack cheese or possibly a combo of swiss and jack cheeses for some "kick" and frozen peas. I would also add some mushrooms (baby bella's) that I would sauteed in some butter, garlic and either white wine, sherry or a broth. If I didn't have any spinach on hand, I would add some kale to the mushrooms to wilt down and cook with the mushrooms I will use canned salmon it's healthier then tuna.

  • 4 Apr, 2014

    I enjoy cooking, and watching Sarah's cooking videos. Everything she prepares looks tantalizing...in the video. Looks were deceiving in this case, I'm afraid. I read the reviews and added some minced garlic with the onions for extra flavour and the end product was rather underwhelming, and I was left with a mighty large clean-up job. Even though I was careful with the temperature, the cooked milk stuck to the bottom of the pot (pain!). In summary: this yields a big old mess for a mediocre meal.

  • 25 Sep, 2013

    This is a great recipe, but given previous reviews I decided to alter it a tiny bit before trying. Instead of using four cups of whole milk, I used three cups plus one cup of Alfredo sauce. I also added a good bit of garlic to the sautéing onions, and sprinkled some sliced black olives on top of the dish before and after applying the remaining breadcrumbs. Rich and creamy!

  • 4 Apr, 2013

    I respect the thought that went into this recipe but after two bites I decided to save my calories. Easy but too many steps. It flopped in my book.

  • 14 Aug, 2012

    I was disappointed in this recipe. I thought that the taste just wasn't there. I love tuna casserole but it just lacked something. I am not sure what??? Sorry.

  • 22 Jun, 2012

    this tuna dish is amazing! fairly quick to put together and my whole family loved it. it is my new go to tuna casserole