Creamy tuna and spinach stuffed pasta shells
Wondering what to do with those tins of tuna in the cupboard? Cook a luscious, creamy, oh-so-delicious pasta bake of course! Conchiglioni or lumaconi (jumbo pasta shells) stuffed with a mixture of tuna, wilted baby spinach, Parmesan, thick bechamel sauce and a hint of lemon. All topped with cheesy breadcrumbs and rosa tomatoes and baked until golden and bubbling.
If you weren’t a “tuna pasta bake” fan before, you will be now… ask my husband (my personal recipe guinea pig and tuna hater), “this is f**king delicious babe!”, said he.
Creamy Tuna and spinach conchiglioni
500 g conchiglioni pasta or any other jumbo pasta shells
1 L milk
1 onion, peeled and cut into quarters
1 bay leaf
75 g butter
200 g baby spinach shredded
½ c (125 ml) fresh bread crumbs
½ c (125 ml) finely grated parmesan
2 tins shredded tuna in brine, drained very well
zest of 1 lemon
Salt and pepper to taste
125 g rosa tomatoes
Preheat the oven to 180˚C.
Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil and cook the pasta in rapidly boiling water for 8 minutes only. If they are overcooked, it will be difficult to fill them. Rinse with ice cold water to stop the cooking process and drizzle with olive oil to prevent sticking. Set aside.
In a medium sized pot, heat the milk, onion and bay leaf together. Remove from the heat before the milk starts boiling. Leave to stand for 5 minutes to allow the flavours to infuse into the milk then strain and discard the onion and bay leaf.
In a large pot, heat the butter until bubbling then add the spinach and sauté until the spinach has wilted down. Add the flour and mix until well combined then add the infused milk and whisk continuously over the heat until the sauce has thickened (remove from the heat the minute the sauce starts to bubble).
Mix the breadcrumbs and parmesan together.
Pour half of the sauce into a mixing bowl. Add half of the crumb mixture, the tuna and zest. Season to taste.
Pour a little bit of the spinach béchamel sauce in a large greased baking dish.
Use a teaspoon and fill the shells with the tuna mixture and pack tightly together into the sauced baking dish.
Arrange a few tomatoes in-between the shells.
Pour the remaining spinach sauce over the shells and sprinkle with the other half of the crumb mixture.
Bake for 35-40 minutes until golden.
This recipe featured in “What’s cooking with Carey” in Crush online magazine Issue 30