Monday, May 26, 2014

Reimagining a Recipe

You may or may not like tuna noodle casserole in its classic form, but I know I liked this tuna casserole that I made awhile back.

Here is a way of looking at tuna casserole in a different way.

Creamy Shells with Tuna and Spinach


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 (I used a couple of slices of white bread)
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 (see notes below)
6 ounces jumbo pasta shells (about 20), cooked according to package instructions


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, whicking constantly, and cook until slightly thickened and bubbling, about 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and let sauce cool slightly.

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 9x13-inch baking dish. Top with remaining sauce and breadcrumb mixture. Bake until sauce is bubbling and breadcrumbs are golden, about 20 minutes.

Recipe Note: Toss together a salad to go along with this. 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.

Source: Martha Stewart website. You can find it here.

Notes: I really liked this. In the future, however, I think I might try it with fresh chopped spinach instead of the frozen. Also, if you don't like tuna, you could definitely substitute canned chicken. I really liked the flavor of this. I wish it had a little more sauce though--not enough to double the sauce recipe...just a little bit more. Also, I think I would have put 3/4 of the breadcrumb mixture and mixed it into the tuna spinach mixture and put the remaining 1/4 mixture on top of the shells. I had a ton of breadcrumbs remaining to sprinkle on top. I ended up throwing half of the remaining mixture out because otherwise, the breadcrumbs would have dried up the sauce, whereas they would have added even more flavor and texture to the shell filling. So, I will definitely make this again (and I really want to try it with chicken and fresh spinach), but I would slightly change a few things (as noted) the next time around.


  1. Yes, I really liked this. As mentioned above, I think it would be really awesome with chicken (for those picky eaters out there that don't like tuna).