Jumbo pasta shells stuffed with juicy shrimp, tender calamari and plump mussels and covered with a delicious cheesy sauce before being baked in the oven. This recipe for Seafood Stuffed Pasta Shells is EPIC!!!
Cheesy seafood stuffed pasta shells
Back in the day, when I first got married, the only pasta you could buy was either spaghetti or macaroni. Both equally long. The only difference was that the macaroni had a hole through the middle of it. There were no fancy pasta shapes that we can buy today. If you wanted small shapes you had to break the macaroni into little pieces! I well remember how excited I was the first time I discovered a box of ‘new’ elbow macaroni in my local supermarket. 🙂
These days though, we are spoiled for choice. Pasta now comes in any number of shapes and sizes, shells, spirals, twirls, and even mini rice shaped pasta which I use for this delicious summer salad. And there is so much that you can do with the different shape – each one inspires its own recipe. The jumbo Conchiglioni that I use in this recipe for seafood stuffed pasta shells for instance, is just begging to be stuffed with a delicious filling.
So if you enjoy pasta and seafood then I think you will to love this dish of seafood stuffed pasta shells. Jumbo pasta shells, stuffed with a mixture of shellfish, garlic, onions and mushrooms and covered with a creamy cheesy sauce, then baked in the oven. This dish is simple enough to make for a quick and easy family supper, but sophisticated enough for an elegant dinner party.
The beauty of this dish is that you can put it together in advance, and leave it in the fridge until you are ready to pop it in the oven. Then you just have to bake it for 20 minutes until the cheesy topping is bubbling and golden.
All this dish needs by way of sides, is a simple tomato salad and a slice of garlic bread to mop up the delicious cheesy sauce.
How to make seafood stuffed pasta shells
Get the complete recipe and measurements on the printable recipe card at the end of this post.
The quantities given are for 4 people as a main meal. If you want to serve it as a starter you should halve the ingredients.
Fry the mushrooms and onions
The first thing you will need is a packet of jumbo Conchiglioni shells (image 1), which you can find on the pasta shelf at any large supermarket. Allow 90g of dried shells per person. This is a generous helping, however if your family has a hearty appetite, you can increase this accordingly.
Tip – cook more pasta than you think you will need. You may find that some of the shells break on cooking, making them impossible to fill.
Cook the pasta according to the instructions on the packet, then drain into a colander and rinse under cold water to stop the cooking process. Leave in the colander to drain while you prepare the seafood.
You will also need 2 large onions and 150g button, white or chestnut mushrooms chopped into 1cm pieces (image 2), and a couple of cloves of crushed garlic. The chopped onions and mushrooms should each equate to about 2 cups, once chopped. Fry these in a little sunflower or olive oil until the mushrooms are translucent and the mushrooms have softened (image 3). Don’t overcook them, they will finish off cooking in the oven. To save time, you can do this step while the pasta is cooking.
Cook the seafood and stuff the pasta
Next you have to get the mixed seafood and shrimp. I used a 350g packet of frozen mixed ready-cooked seafood, and a 250G packet of raw frozen ready-shelled shrimp (image 1).
Defrost the seafood. You can either leave it in the fridge to defrost, or if you are in a hurry, place the unopened packets in a sink of warm water. They won’t take long at all to defrost like this. Cut the shrimp in half or thirds, depending on the size (this is to make it easier to fit it into the pasta shells) and add to the the onions and mushrooms in the pan.
Fry the shrimp with the mushrooms and onions until the shrimp has turned pink (image 2). Do this over a medium heat, you don’t want to burn the mushrooms and onions. It should take the shrimp about 5 minutes to turn completely pink.
Tip in the packet of defrosted seafood mix (image 3). Stir to combine and then remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly. You don’t need to cook the seafood mix as it is already cooked.
Now take the pasta shells and fill each one with one or two tablespoons of the cooled seafood mixture. Arrange the filled pasta shells in an ovenproof dish (image 4).
Make the cheese sauce
- Melt butter in a pan and stir in the cornflour/cornstarch. Mix well to remove any lumps (image 1).
- Pour in the milk and allow to come to the boil. Continue stirring until the mixture thickens (image 2). The consistency should be that of thick custard, and a spoon should leave a trail when drawn through it.
- Add the grated cheese and stir until melted (image 3).
- Season with salt and plenty of ground black pepper (image 4).
Assemble and bake
- Pour the cheese sauce over the stuffed pasta shells in the baking dish. Make sure all the shells are well covered (image 1).
- Sprinkle with grated cheese (image 2). You can use your favourite cheese for this. I like to use a mixture of cheddar and mozarella. For a crispier topping, sprinkle with breadcrumbs before covering with the grated cheese.
- Bake in a pre-heated oven (180C / 375F) for about 20 minutes until the cheese is melted and golden and the seafood pasta shells are piping hot (image 3).
- Serve immediately with a fresh tomato salad and slices of garlic bread.
Can I freeze this dish?
Because the dish is made with defrosted frozen seafood it is not advisable to re-freeze this dish.
However, you can assemble this dish no longer than one day in advance, and store it, covered, in the fridge until you are ready to bake it.
Convert grams to cups
To help you convert your recipes, I have created a handy Cookery Conversion Calculator which will convert ingredients between grams, ounces, tablespoons, cups and millilitres. I hope you will find it useful.
If you live at a high altitude you may find you need to adjust your baking recipes to compensate for this. You can read about how to do this in this post on baking at high altitudes.
Recipe – Seafood stuffed pasta shells in a creamy cheese sauce
Seafood stuffed pasta shells in a creamy cheesy sauce
- Sharp Knife
- Chopping Board
- Large saucepan for pasta
- Small saucepan for cheese sauce
- Wok or large frying pan
- 9" x 11" Baking dish (23cm)
- 13 oz (360g) Jumbo sized pasta shells (allow extra for breakage)
- 8½ oz (250g) Frozen raw shrimp (prawns)
- 12½ oz (350g) Frozen cooked mixed seafood (seafood cocktail)
- 5½ oz (150g) Mushrooms chopped into 1cm pieces
- 2 large onions chopped into 1cm pieces
- 2 cloves garlic crushed / minced
- 1 tablespoon olive oil for frying the mushrooms and onions
- 1.75 oz (50g) butter
- 1 oz (30g) cornflour / cornstarch
- 2 cups milk
- 1 cup grated cheddar cheese for the sauce
- 1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese for sprinkling on top
- Boil the pasta in a large pan of boiling water, according to the instrutions on the packet.
- Drain the cooked pasted through a colander and then rinse under cold running water to stop the cooking process. Leave to drain in the colander until needed.
- Chop the mushrooms and onions into 1cm dice and fry gently in 1 tablespoon olive oil until the onions are translucent and the mushrooms have started to soften.
- Chop the shrimp into 2 or 3 pieces, depending on the size, then add to the mushrooms and onions and fry gently until the shrimp is completely pink – approximately 5 minutes.
- Add the packed of defrosted seafood mix and stir through to combine.
- Carefully spoon 2 tablespoons of the seafood mixture into each of the cooked pasta shells and arrange open side up in a baking dish.
- Set the oven to 180°C / 375°F
- Melt the butter in a saucepan, then remove from the heat and mix in the cornflour/cornstarch until there are no lumps
- Return to the heat and add the milk. Stir continuously until the mixture comes to the boil and thickens.
- Add the grated cheese and stir until melted.
- Season with salt (optional) and plenty of freshly ground black pepper
- Pour the sauce over the pasta shells in the baking dish, taking care to cover completely.
- Sprinkle with the remaining grated cheese
- Bake in a preheated oven for 20 minutes until the cheese is melted and golden.
- Serve with a fresh tomato salad and slices of garlic bread.
I am not a nutritionist. The nutrition information has been calculated using an on-line calculator, and is intended for information and guidance purposes only. If the nutrition information is important to you, you should consider calculating it yourself, using your preferred tool.
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