It's a Keeper: Tuna and Shells

Yeah for Fall! Time to turn on the oven and warm up the house, right? I have been cooking more often lately because work finally eased up a little bit, so look for more recipe posts than you have seen recently. I have some catching up to do.

This may be shocking to some, but before making this recipe, I had never had tuna casserole. Gasp! I hate mayonnaise (luckily, Rachael Ray hates mayo, too, so most of her recipes don't use it) and I just had a belief that I therefore did not like tuna either (it's the tuna salad I don't like, I guess). Then I started eating sushi and decided that maybe I did like tuna after all. Was that too much information?

I was pleasantly surprised by this recipe and my Husband loved it. I have never had tuna casserole out of a box, but I can imagine that this is a much healthier and tastier alternative. Give it a try to warm up a cool Fall night. I served it with some green salad and glass of the dry white wine that was used in the recipe. Here's the recipe with my comments in brackets:

1 pound medium shell pasta [no whole wheat shells at my store, so I used corkscrew pasta]
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO), 1 turn of the pan
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 medium onion, finely chopped
3 celery ribs from the heart, finely chopped
1/4 red bell pepper, finely chopped
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 cup heavy cream
Freshly ground pepper
1 cup frozen peas
Two 12-ounce cans water-packed tuna, drained and flaked [Get the good stuff, not the cheap stuff!]
4 sprigs of fresh tarragon, leaves stripped from stems and finely chopped [I am not a big tarragon fan, so I only used half the amount called for]
4 slices of white sandwich bread, torn into bits
Hot sauce
Flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped (a generous handful)

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt the water, add the pasta and cook until al dente. [Make sure you move on to step two while you are working on this step. Be a multitasker.]

2. Place a large, deep skillet over medium heat, add the EVOO, 1 turn of the pan, and melt 1 tablespoon of the butter into the EVOO. Add the onion and celery, cook for 3 minutes, then stir in the bell pepper and cook for 2 minutes. Stir in the flour and cook for 1 minute, then add the wine and reduce for 1 minute. Whisk in the broth and boil for 1 minute to thicken. Reduce the heat to low and stir in the cream; season the sauce to taste with salt and pepper. When it bubbles, add the peas and tuna and cook until heated through. Fold in the tarragon and turn the heat to low. [Seems like a lot of instructions, but it's very chop and drop friendly.]

3. Preheat the broiler. In a food processor, pulse the bread until coarse bread crumbs form. In a microwavable dish, melt the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter in a microwave and add a little hot sauce. Stir the butter into the bread crumbs to combine. [I would be tempted to use store bought bread crumbs in order to avoid cleaning the food processor.]

4. Drain the shells, toss with the sauce and adjust the seasoning. Place the pasta in a 9-by-13-inch heatproof serving dish and cover with the bread crumbs. Place the dish under the hot broiler and crisp the crumbs for 1 to 2 minutes. Garnish with the parsley.


  1. You're not alone... I haven't tried tuna caserole before; I kinda thought it sounded gross, LOL. But you have inspired me.. I am going to try it next week ;)You definitely recommend it??

  2. I wouldn't say it's my favorite RR recipe ever, but it was certainly good. My husband thought it was one of the best though!

  3. I LOVE this recipe! The hot sauce is a nice touch. Instead of mixing the breadcrumbs with the butter and hot sauce, I just put on the breadcrumbs, do some generous shakes of hot sauce and dot the top with butter and bake it covered for a little while. Then I remove the tin foil to crisp it a bit.

    Saves some extra time.

    I make a decent tuna casserole, but this is the bomb!


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