Baking dish full of stuffed pasta shells.
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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

  • 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.

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!