Creamy Shells with Tuna and Spinach

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One of the things I really enjoy is coming up with ways to update old comfort food recipes. I can remember my Mom making tuna casserole when I was a kid. It was on of the meals we had quite often. It, of course, contained a can of cream of mushroom soup, but I can just remember loving it when she made it. Since my Mom wasn’t big on cooking, tuna casserole is one of the meals that I remember fondly and it brings back wonderful memories of my Mom for me.

Of course through the years, with my desire to make recipes a bit healthier when I can, I have realized that even though it is very tasty (I love cream of mushroom soup) it isn’t the healthiest item to add to a meal. The amount of fat and sodium it contains are really quite staggering. So when I can try a recipe without it I am excited. I know my Mom would be proud of me for making things healthier for my family. A bonus is this is a nice inexpensive recipe!

Everyone, minus Ms Picky Pants, loved this dish. Seth had a friend over and he loved it just as much as we did. They both work at a local pub/saloon and Avin is one of the cooks there. He and Seth both kept making comments about how they would make so many people happy (and so much money) if they used my recipes there. What a wonderful compliment that was and completely not expected for Tuna Casserole! I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we did!!

Creamy Shells with Tuna and Spinach
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 small yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup dry white wine
3 cups milk
Kosher salt
Fresh ground black pepper
3 slices white bread
1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning 

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 package frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed of excess liquid (a clean kitchen towel works great for this)
2 cans tuna, drained and flaked
6 ounces jumbo pasta shells (approx 20 shells), cooked according to package directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a medium pot, over medium high heat, cook the onions and garlic until the onions are translucent, about 5 minutes. Add flour and cook, stirring constantly for 1 minute. Whisk in the white wine and cook for a minute. Then gradually whisk in the milk, stirring constantly. Add the red pepper flakes and cook for about 3 minutes, until the sauce has slightly thicken and bubbly. Season with salt and pepper and let the sauce cool slightly.

In a food processor, combine the bread and Italian seasoning. Process until fine crumbs form. Transfer half of the mixture to a large bowl and combine with half of the sauce, tuna, and spinach. Season with salt and pepper if necessary. Fill each shell with a heaping tablespoon of of the spinach mixture and place in a 9 x 13-inch baking dish. Top with remaining sauce and bread crumb mixture. Bake until sauce is bubbling and bread crumbs are golden. About 25 minutes.

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About Bobbi Burleson

Mom to 2 kiddos and one little Westhighland Terrier. A So Cal girl at heart, I now live with my boyfriend/sous chef in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. I am a writer, recipe developer, photographer, and lover of wildlife, the out of doors, and scrapbooking. My philosophy is to hold those you love close and enjoy each and every moment you can. Oh, and eat mac and cheese, you can never have too much mac and cheese!

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