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Cool Meals for Hot Nights: Tuna and Shells

The latest recipe in our “Cool Meals for Hot Nights” series is for Tuna and Shells. It comes from Annie, the creator and writer of {kidlist} activities for little kids, a resource for families in the near west suburbs of Chicago. If you have friends or family in LaGrange, Hinsdale, Western Springs or any other suburb in that general area, please let them know about {kidlist}

Recipe: Tuna and Shells

Serves: 4
Prep time: 20 minutes


  • 2 cups medium shell pasta (8 oz.)
  • 1 (7 oz.) can of tuna, drained and flaked
  • 1/2 cup celery (about 2 stalks), minced
  • 1/4 cup sweet pickle, chopped
  • 1/4 cup green pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 cup swiss cheese, cubed
  • 2 tablespoons white onion, minced
  • 1/2 cup ranch dressing
  • 1/4 cup greek yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • pepper to taste

Ingredients for tuna and shells.


  1. Cook pasta until tender but firm. Drain and rinse with cold water.
  2. While pasta is cooking, chop the ingredients. (I usually follow recipes exactly, but this is a recipe that you can estimate, change or add ingredients.) In a small bowl, combine ranch dressing, yogurt, milk, lemon juice, salt, and pepper.
  3. Add all ingredients to large bowl and toss. You can put this dish in the refrigerator or serve immediately.

To serve: The original recipe describes how to serve as I have pictured below: Place tomatoes stem-end down on lettuce leaves. Cut each tomato from top center down to about 1/4 inch from the stem end, making 6 equal sections. Spread sections apart. Sprinkle with salt to taste. Fill with chilled tuna salad.

But let’s face it, we don’t have time to do all that frilly stuff! I usually just scoop some on a plate and my family likes it just the same. My mom would sometimes place lettuce leaves on the plate and scoop the tuna and shells on top, with some tomato wedges on the side; it is nice to add some color without a lot of effort.

Tuna and shells - served the fancy way!

Notes: I often double the recipe and use three cans of tuna instead of just two for more protein, chop an entire green pepper (because I never end up using the rest of the pepper anyway), use half sweet pickle and half pickle relish, and use equal parts ranch dressing and greek yogurt to reduce the dressing.

If you have some leftover and want to eat it the next day I would suggest adding a little milk to make it creamy again. The pasta tends to soak up the dressing and yogurt mixture, making it a bit dry.

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