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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!

This recipe is sponsored by King Oscar | Thanks for supporting the brands I love and trust.

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.

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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.
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
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  • 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


  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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. 
  • 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.
  • Sprinkle some extra shredded cheese over the shells.
  • Finally, cover the shells with tinfoil if you have it, and bake in the over for 20-25 minutes.
  • When done, remove from oven, carefully remove the tinfoil, and sprinkle the shells with freshly chopped parsley before serving.


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!
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Mediterranean Seafood Stuffed Pasta Shells

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