Tuna Ventresca Stuffed Shells – Elevating a Classic Dish with an Exquisite Twist

Have you ever wanted to take a classic dish and give it a gourmet twist? Well, Chef John has done just that with his mouthwatering Tuna Ventresca Stuffed Shells. This delectable recipe is his entry in the Tonnino Tuna Chef Challenge, showcasing the incredible flavors of yellowfin tuna belly.

Tuna Ventresca Stuffed Shells - Elevating a Classic Dish with an Exquisite Twist
Tuna Ventresca Stuffed Shells – Elevating a Classic Dish with an Exquisite Twist

Elevating the Bechamel Sauce

To start this culinary adventure, Chef John prepares a simple yet flavorful bechamel sauce. This velvety creation combines butter, flour, and cold milk, seasoned with a pinch of oregano, cayenne pepper, fresh nutmeg, and salt. Simmered to perfection, the sauce is then enriched with fontina cheese, adding a creamy and savory touch.

Tuna Ventresca Stuffed Shells

Creating the Perfect Filling

The star of this recipe is undoubtedly the Tuna Ventresca. As Chef John drains the tuna, he wisely keeps the precious olive oil. Using this flavorful oil, he sautés onions, garlic, and diced red peppers until they soften, releasing their delightful aromas. To this fragrant mixture, Chef John adds thawed frozen peas and combines them with the tuna ventresca, fontina cheese, lemon zest, lemon juice, beaten egg, and whole milk ricotta. The result is a rich and luscious filling with a touch of warmth from a dash of cayenne pepper.

Assembling and Baking

With the filling ready, it’s time to stuff the jumbo shells generously. Chef John recommends taking rounded tablespoonfuls of the filling and carefully filling each shell. The bechamel sauce reserved earlier is then spread on the bottom of a standard 9×13 casserole dish. The filled shells are arranged in a 4×5 pattern before being crowned with the remaining bechamel sauce. A sprinkle of parmesan cheese adds the finishing touch before the dish is baked in a 400-degree oven for approximately 20 minutes, or until the top turns a glorious golden brown.

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Can I substitute ingredients in this recipe?

While Chef John recommends using the specified ingredients for the best flavor and results, cooking is all about creativity. Feel free to experiment with different cheeses, herbs, or add your personal touch to make this recipe your own.

Can I freeze the Tuna Ventresca Stuffed Shells?

Yes, you can freeze the stuffed shells before baking them. Simply prepare the recipe up until the baking step, cover the dish tightly with foil, and place it in the freezer. When you’re ready to enjoy your meal, thaw the dish overnight in the refrigerator and follow the baking instructions as usual.

Can I use other types of tuna?

While the recipe highlights the unique flavors of Tuna Ventresca, you can certainly use other types of tuna as a substitute. However, keep in mind that the delicate and buttery texture of the Ventresca may not be replicated.


By infusing the classic tuna noodle casserole with the exquisite Tonnino Tuna Ventresca, Chef John has elevated this dish to new heights. The combination of tender yellowfin tuna belly, creamy bechamel sauce, and a burst of flavors from the filling creates a truly exceptional experience. Whether you’re a seafood aficionado or simply looking to impress your guests, this recipe is a must-try. So, head over to Hook’d Up Bar and Grill and embark on a culinary journey filled with exceptional flavors.

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