Switch Up Pasta Night By Adding Tuna To Your Favorite Creamy Stuffed Shells

Pasta night is a celebrated weeknight savior that turns the kitchen into a hub of bubbling pots and simmering sauces. Whether your usual go-to is a classic spaghetti and meatballs, a simple aglio e olio, or a comforting baked mac and cheese recipe, it's a time to rejoice in the flexible nature of the wonder that is pasta. If your usual is feeling overdone, then find a little inspiration by filling stuffed shells with a creamy tuna mix.

If you're a tuna salad or tuna melt fan, this duo will surely be a hit. You can mix a can of tuna into a prepared white sauce alongside more cheese (of course), greens like spinach or peas, or a thickener like salad dressing. Stuff the cooked shells and top with more cheese or, for a satisfying crunch, breadcrumbs. It's cheesy, creamy, fishy, and filling. These shells give tuna casserole vibes but in a pasta vessel.

You can easily adapt the tuna filling with your favorite greens or vegetables, depending on the other flavors you want the shells to sing with. The tuna also goes well with a range of cheeses so you can opt for a milder to mature flavor. It's the next pasta night winner.

Making the most of tuna shells

Canned tuna is tinned in a variety of liquids: brine, olive oil, and water. That liquid can impact the flavors in your shells. Tuna packed in olive oil is ideal when you want to add fat to the dish. It has a richer taste and moist texture. Tuna packed in water is lighter in taste but dryer in texture. Since you're pairing the tuna with a rich cheesy sauce, you do not necessarily need the added oil as your mixture is fatty enough.

Pouch tuna can also be used as it has similar flavors to canned. However, the pouch will likely affect the tuna's shape and solidity. If you want thick chunks of tuna, you may prefer canned. If you prefer flakes, then pouched will work just as well.

Once you've chosen your tuna, you can decide what other ingredients to add. For tangy addictiveness, add garlic. To inject a little crunch, incorporate a chopped onion, a little celery, or even a bell pepper. Once your mixture is ready, avoid one of the biggest mistakes people make when cooking pasta shells by ensuring you cook the shells properly before stuffing them. You don't want overly soft shells to ruin the ensemble.

Cheese and tuna pairings

With a vast plethora of cheeses to choose from, you want to ensure you pair these tuna shells with a variety that will complement the taste of the fish. Seafood is naturally salty, so you want to ensure you're balancing this with a cheese that's not overpowering or exceptionally salty. While your cheese sauce recipe may sometimes include Roquefort or Stilton, be mindful of how pungent these varieties are and what they may do to the flavor of the tuna.

Tuna is best paired with a hard cheese like cheddar or gouda. These cheeses also meld well with spices and fresh herbs, so you have the added reassurance that you can layer and blend these flavors. While you may wish to incorporate cheeses common in tuna melts, such as American, Swiss, or Gruyère, consider how they may turn gloopy once melted. You want your cheese sauce to have a velvety consistency instead of a sticky one, so reconsider those types of cheese. Alternatively, mild and soft cheeses like ricotta would also marry well with the flavors in tuna stuffed shells.

Switching up pasta night doesn't have to be a technical affair. With tuna stuffed shells, it's simple and delicious. Ultimately, you're at the wheel; make it your own and savor this pasta masterpiece.