Baked Feta Pasta

For those of you who are present on social media, especially Tik Tock, you are almost guaranteed this recipe will pop up on your feed a few times. It’s become widely popular, and rightfully so. I had seen so many of these videos all over social media so naturally I had to see for myself if it is worth the hype and if it would live up to its popularity. As you could guess, the main ingredient in this dish is feta cheese. Feta is a soft white Greek brined-aged white cheese made from sheep’s milk or a combination of sheep and goat’s milk. It ranges from a fairly light to sharp in flavor and crumbly in texture. For those of you who are lactose sensitive/intolerant, sheep and goat milk are typically low in lactose, which makes this a great way to enjoy cheese with minimal symptoms later.

This is an incredibly simple dish, both in ingredients and preparation. Perfect for you busy bees that don’t have a ton of time on your hands, but want a delicious home cooked dinner. Not only is it simple, but it’s also a clean and healthy meal.


Here’s what you’ll need:

- 30 oz. cherry tomatoes

- ½ cup olive oil

- 8 oz. block of feta cheese

- 4-5 cloves crushed garlic

- 1 handful of fresh basil leaves

- 1-2 tsp. red pepper flakes

- Salt and pepper to taste

- 1 lb. your favorite pasta noodles

That’s it? You feta believe it! But this is a guideline recipe. Meaning, feel free to add more or do less depending on your taste and preferences. Personally, I love cherry tomatoes, garlic and basil so I added extra of all those items when assembling this dish. This dish works best with pasta that small so anything like rigatoni, penne, farfalle or fusilli will all work well. This is a very forgiving recipe so don’t be afraid to play around with it a bit! The only tricky item on the list is the block of feta cheese. Most stores sell it as already crumbled cheese; this will not work for this recipe. You can purchase this at either a Whole Foods, Gelson’s Market or you can always look up where it is being sold in your area. Once you’ve got everything, it’s time to get cookin’.


Instructions:

- Preheat the oven to 400°

- In a large casserole dish (about 13”x9”) add the tomatoes, olive oil, salt and pepper and toss to coat everything

- Place block of feta cheese in the middle of the dish and add a splash more of olive oil on top of the cheese and sprinkle on the red pepper flakes

- In the meantime, cook 1 lb. of pasta noodles

- After the first 30 minutes have past, turn up the oven to 450° and continue to bake for another 5-10 minutes or until the cheese and tomatoes have slightly browned

- Remove the baking dish from the oven and immediately add garlic and fresh basil and stir all together

- Finally, add in cooked pasta and stir again until thoroughly combined

**In the un-likely event your sauce seems a tad dry, you can add a ladle-full or two of pasta water to loosen up the sauce!

You can use any casserole dish; but I would recommend something large, since it does make a lot and you will need to stir everything thoroughly. When adding in the tomatoes I like to do some halved and some whole, but you can choose to do whichever you prefer. I also like to add in a little something extra to my pasta; one word, pesto. The pesto shakes things up a bit more and adds a little extra flavor that compliments the feta and tomatoes well.

I like to make my own pesto from scratch (another very simple recipe),

pictured to the right. However, if you choose to buy pre-made pesto, there's no shame in that, then I highly recommend you visit Costco and snag their pre-made pesto sauce. It's actually quite good and since it's a fairly good amount, you can save the sauce for another time or use it to make a pesto pasta or a chicken pesto sandwich etc.


Once everything is cooked and combined, you are ready to chow down. This pasta dish pairs well with either some baked brussel sprouts, a light green salad, sautéed asparagus and of course a nice glass of white wine.

Voila! Life doesn’t get feta than this!

And that's the dirt!

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