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Baked Feta Pasta

This deceptively simple recipe is full of flavor, and even people who normally don’t like feta cheese have professed a love for this pasta dish! If you use the right, high-quality cheese, it won’t have the gritty texture often associated with feta cheese. Prep time is almost nothing, so it’s great for busy weeknight dinners.

Prep Time: 5 mins | Cook Time: 40 mins

Ingredients:

  • 8 oz pasta
  • 1/2 cup reserved pasta water
  • 1/2 cup olive oil + more for finishing
  • 2 pints cherry or grape tomatoes
  • 1 8 oz block high quality feta (see notes)
  • 4 cloves garlic, grated
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1 handful fresh basil leaves, torn or cut into small pieces
  • salt and pepper

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400. Add 1/2 of olive oil to a baking dish and toss with whole cherry tomatoes, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper until everything is coated.
  2. Add the feta in the middle and top with remaining olive oil plus a few cranks of fresh pepper. Bake for 30 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, prepare pasta according to directions then strain, saving 1/2 cup of pasta water (this starchy, salty water can help if pasta is dry).
  4. After the 30 minutes, crank the heat up to 450 and bake for another 10 minutes or until the feta and tomatoes have started to brown.
  5. Remove the baking dish from the oven. Mash tomatoes with a fork or other utensil until most of the tomatoes are burst (I like to leave a few little ones). Mix crushed tomatoes with melted feta cheese, then add garlic and stir so the residual heat cooks the garlic.
  6. Toss in the pasta and stir one more time. Finish with fresh basil, another splash of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. If it’s a little dry after, add 1/2 cup pasta water and stir.

Notes:

  • I have found that the brand of feta used in this recipe makes ALL the difference! You want a block of cheese, not crumbled feta. Sheep’s milk feta melts better than cow’s milk feta. And if you can find it packaged in brine rather than dry, even better! Locally, my favorite brand is 100% Sheep’s Milk French Feta in Brine from Wegman’s, and my second favorite is Mt. Vikos Sheep & Goat’s Milk Feta from Lowes Foods.
  • My favorite pasta for this recipe is Radiatori… the ruffled crevices really hold on to the thick, cheesy sauce! Fussilli and Farfale are good choices as well.
  • It works best if you use a small baking dish so the tomatoes are touching.

Recipe & Image Credit: Grilled Cheese Social by MacKenzie Smith