Fish + Seafood/ Food/ Main Dishes/ Pescetarian

Mediterranean Seafood Stuffed Pasta Shells {Mackerel Recipe}

Baking dish full of stuffed pasta shells.

Stuffed pasta shells served in bowls with sauce.

Smooth ricotta, wholesome spinach, briny olives, and tender Omega-3 packed mackerel make these stuffed pasta shells an indulgent yet heart-healthy choice. Add this mackerel recipe to your list!

 

I was never big on Valentine’s Day for most of my adult life. In fact, I’ve always been more of a Leslie Knope about it; I basked in celebrating Galentine’s Day! In college, a girlfriend and I would throw on our cutest dresses, hit up Red Lobster, break open our shellfish like a couple of hungry sea monsters, and sip on the cheapest wine on the list without a care in the world. The couples around us would either be uncomfortably quiet (first date) or bickering (disappointing date). It wasn’t a sight that gave us romance envy, that’s for sure.

When I met my husband, I told him he didn’t have to do anything special for the Hallmark holiday. In fact, I suggested horror films and takeout pizza because I’m a rebel like that. But he, being the beautiful human he is, cooked me a marvelous surf ‘n turf dinner and dished up a homemade heart-shaped brownie for dessert. 

Consider me swooned; he tamed a dragon.

I think one of the best ways to celebrate your love for someone, no matter what day of the year, is to cook them a stellar meal. Something you can pour your heart into. And in my mind, it’s hard to get more romantic than an Italian-inspired meal.

Make it a heart-healthy Omega-3-packed mackerel recipe for Valentine’s Day, and you’re on theme ;)

Sauce being spooned over stuffed shells in baking dish.

Close up of stuffed shells in baking dish.

Mediterranean Seafood Stuffed Pasta Shells {Mackerel Recipe}.

Mackerel might not be the most popular seafood choice out there, but it deserves way more recognition than it gets. Hopefully this mackerel recipe has you nodding your head in agreement ;)

When you think about Seafood-stuffed pasta shells, your mind probably goes straight to crab, shrimp, and maybe even lobster. These shells tap into a different world, but in the most flavorful (and inexpensive!) way. Smooth ricotta is mixed with wholesome spinach, briny olives, an Italian blend of cheeses, and King Oscar’s Omega-3-packed Mediterranean Mackerel, making this a heart-healthy option.

King Oscar’s Mediterranean Mackerel is melt-in-your-mouth tender. It’s hand-packed in pure olive oil with herbs de Provence, olives, garlic, and bell pepper. Naturally, all of this amps up the stuffed pasta shell as you know it.

If the Mediterranean Mackerel isn’t accessible to you, you can instead use King Oscar’s Mackerel in Olive Oil. To make up for the Mediterranean flavor boost, see my recipe notes.

Baking dish full of stuffed pasta shells.

Stuffed pasta shells served in bowls with sauce.

Want more ways to use King Oscar’s Mediterranean Mackerel? My Mediterranean Mackerel Protein Wrap makes for a delicious and substantial lunch, and this One-Pot Mediterranean Pasta With Mackerel is the perfect weeknight dinner.

Here are some other great ways to sneak seafood into your pasta…

If you try this recipe or create your own variation, let me know in the comments! I love connecting with you.

Also, snap a photo and tag me on the Insta @killing__thyme and be featured in our newsletter.

Baking dish full of stuffed pasta shells.
5 from 8 votes
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Mediterranean Seafood Stuffed Pasta Shells {Mackerel Recipe}

Smooth ricotta, wholesome spinach, briny olives, and tender Omega-3 packed mackerel make these stuffed pasta shells an indulgent yet heart-healthy choice. Feed 2-4 people.

Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian, Mediterranean, Pescatarian, Seafood
Keyword easy, Italian, mackerel, Pasta, Pescatarian, seafood
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Author Dana Sandonato

Ingredients

  • 8 oz jumbo pasta shells
  • 2 cups strained ricotta cheese* See notes.
  • 2 cans King Oscar Mediterranean Mackerel, drained* See notes.
  • 1 cup frozen chopped spinach, thawed and strained (about 8oz)* See notes.
  • 1/4 cup roughly chopped kalamata olives
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 cup shredded Italian blend of cheese or shredded mozzarella, plus a little extra for garnish
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • Pinch of Kosher or sea salt and cracked black pepper
  • 2-3 cups any simple marinara sauce
  • Fresh chopped parsley, for garnish

Instructions

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350º F and cook the pasta shells as per the directions on the box. When done, drain the pasta shells, run under cool water to stop the cooking process, and drain again to make sure there's no remaining water inside of the shells. Set aside.

  2. While the pasta is cooking, you can bring your stuffing together. Add the strained ricotta cheese to a large bowl. Drain the oil from the cans of mackerel, keeping the other ingredients like the olives and seasonings in the can. With a fork, flake the mackerel into the bowl with the ricotta cheese.

  3. Add the spinach, olives, garlic powder, shredded cheese, beaten egg, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Finally, with a large spoon or spatula, mix all of these ingredients thoroughly until evenly distributed.

  4. Into the baking dish, pour just enough marinara to coat the bottom of the dish so the shells don't stick. This should be about 1/2 cup, depending on the size of your baking dish.

  5. With a tablespoon, carefully stuff each pasta shell with the mixture, starting with a heaping tablespoon's worth of stuffing for each shell, then place the shells into the baking dish. In the end, if you have some mixture left over, go ahead and overstuff a few shells until it's gone. 

  6. Spoon 1-2 cups of marinara over the shells. The amount of sauce really depends on how saucy you want them. It's a personal preference, so you do you :) But if you aren't going to cover the dish with tinfoil before baking, I'd definitely add a little extra sauce for the sake of keeping moisture.

  7. Sprinkle some extra shredded cheese over the shells.

  8. Finally, cover the shells with tinfoil if you have it, and bake in the over for 20-25 minutes.

  9. When done, remove from oven, carefully remove the tinfoil, and sprinkle the shells with freshly chopped parsley before serving.

Recipe Notes

Ricotta Cheese is extremely wet, so giving it a good strain before creating your mixture is encouraged. In an instance where you're making lasagna, it's important to let ricotta strain for a few hours to overnight because lasagna has to keep its shape, and excess moisture can turn a lasagna into slop. With shells, you can just ring out your 2 cups-worth of ricotta in cheese cloth. It's not as imperative as when you're making lasagna, but the less water content, the better. If you don't have cheese cloth or time to strain, don't stress. Again, these are stuffed shells. They'll keep their form and everything should be fine.

King Oscar Mediterranean Mackerel is an amazing addition to this recipe. But if you don't have access to it, you can certainly use King Oscar's Mackerel in Olive Oil. To make up for the Mediterranean flavor, add 1/4 cup of pesto to the ricotta. It won't be the exact same, but I tested it out, and it's delicious :)

Frozen chopped spinach will have thawing and straining instructions on the packaging. Follow those instructions. You can roughly chop fresh baby spinach, but I find it leaves a leafy texture in the shells, even after being cooked. I encourage frozen chopped spinach, but it's not imperative.

This recipe feeds 2-4 people, depending on what else you're serving with the dish and how hungry you are. Do note that these shells are rich and filling!

 

 

Mediterranean Seafood Stuffed Pasta Shells

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10 Comments

  • Reply
    Trish Bozeman
    February 19, 2019 at 9:28 am Hahaha I too was a Valentine dragon that was tamed by a sweet dude. He thought he hated Indian food, but attempted homemade major grey curry for me and I've never looked back. LOL! But man, this seafood pasta sounds AMAZING! I love the sustainable approach with the mackerel. So important that we consider that these days.

  • Reply
    Tracy
    February 18, 2019 at 11:33 am Awww what a winner of a husband and a dinner!! That man knows the way to a woman's heart, for sure! Although your Galentine's Day celebration sounds pretty amazing too! These stuffed shells - talk about a delicious combination of flavors!!

  • Reply
    Marisa F. Stewart
    February 18, 2019 at 7:47 am We love our seafood! And this is such an amazing main dish. We don't buy mackerel -- well, I haven't really seen it. I know our family would enjoy this beautiful pasta dish. Stuffed pasta is amazing and this is going to be on our week's menu. Putting King Oscar seafood on the grocery list.

  • Reply
    Kirsten/ComfortablyDomestic
    February 17, 2019 at 11:18 pm Ha! I was the same way about Valentine's Day before meeting my husband. Now a great home cooked meal is how we celebrate every year. I never in a million years would have thought to put mackerel in seafood stuffed shells. I'm completely intrigued by the fact that it's available canned in oil with all of those spices. This sounds delicious!

  • Reply
    Traci
    February 17, 2019 at 2:46 pm Gorgeous entree with super simple ingredients, and looks so classy! You always bring the heat and make magic out of everyday ingredients. Thanks for the another mouth-watering recipe!

  • Reply
    Kris
    February 16, 2019 at 1:07 pm Man, and I'm salivating. We absolutely love stuffed shells, and I've never tried Mediterranean mackerel. But it sounds incredible. It looks not only gorgeous in presentation, but so delicious, too. Absolutely adding this to my rotation. Thanks for the awesome recipe and inspiration!

  • Reply
    Debra
    February 15, 2019 at 3:57 pm Flavor explosion right there. Olives plus the mediterranean Mackerel would be delish! I love a meal that can be made from simple pantry ingredients. Just the best when the weather is frigid and you don't feel like running to the store.

  • Reply
    Weekly meal plan: 5 easy meals for the week ahead, including pasta, hoagies, soup, and more
    February 15, 2019 at 6:00 am […] top: Mediterranean Seafood Stuffed Pasta Shells at Killing Thyme; Italian Melt sandwich at Halfbaked […]
  • Reply
    JustineCelina
    February 14, 2019 at 6:21 pm Dana, this looks absolutely delish! I can't believe I've never tried Mackerel -- this must change! I'll be sure to keep my eyes peeled for Oscar Mediterranean Mackerel. I'm so intrigued and never would have thought to use seafood in this way!
  • Reply
    Gloria
    February 12, 2019 at 6:08 pm We are really beginning to enjoy smoked and canned fish. This looks like an interesting pasta dish. I need to hunt some of this King Oscar fish down and give this a try. I really think hubby would enjoy this.

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