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Tuna and Shells

Tuna and Shells


  • Salt

  • 1 pound medium size shell pasta

  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided

  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped

  • 3 ribs celery 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 stock

  • 1 cup heavy cream

  • Freshly ground pepper

  • 1 cup frozen peas

  • 2 cans water-packed tuna (12 ounces each), drained and flaked

  • 4 sprigs fresh tarragon, leaves stripped and finely chopped

  • 4 slices white sandwich bread, torn into bits

  • Hot sauce

  • 1/3 cup flat leaf parsley (a generous handful), finely chopped


Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt the water, add the pasta and cook until al dente. Place a large, deep skillet over medium heat. Add the EVOO, one 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 stock 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. Pre-heat the broiler. In a food processor, pulse the bread until coarse breadcrumbs form. In a microwavable dish, melt the remaining 3 tablespoons butter in a microwave and add a little hot sauce. Stir the butter into the breadcrumbs to combine. Drain the shells, toss with the sauce and adjust the seasoning. Place the pasta in a 9-inch x 13-inch heatproof serving dish and cover with the breadcrumbs. Place the dish under the hot broiler and crisp the crumbs for 1-2 minutes. Garnish with the parsley.