No Thanks

Keep In Touch With

Sign up and we'll send inspiration straight to you.

Martha Stewart takes your privacy seriously. To learn more, please read our Privacy Policy.

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


  • 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.


  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.

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 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