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
- 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
- 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.
- Add the feta in the middle and top with remaining olive oil plus a few cranks of fresh pepper. Bake for 30 minutes.
- 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).
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 oil or plastic-wrapped, 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.