Baked Feta Pasta (TikTok Inspired)
This TikTok feta pasta has become super famous because it combines the best of both worlds- low effort plus high reward - it’s one of the simplest pasta recipes you can make but emerges SO flavorful. The baked feta pasta recipe is made by literally baking a block of feta along with tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, pesto and olive to create an irresistible, cheesy, creamy, tangy, tomato sauce. Stir in some garlic, basil and cooked pasta and you have a super easy, gourmet tasting dinner that took less than 10 minutes of hands-on prep! This baked TikTok feta pasta is also incredibly versatile – add Parmesan, heavy cream, chicken, artichokes, olives, etc. or additional veggies – because it’s all about the sensation sauce!
Servings 6 servings
- 8-12 ounces medium pasta like gemilli, rotini, fusilli (see notes)
- 2 pints cherry tomatoes (20-25 ounces)
- ½ cup chopped sun dried tomatoes in oil (optional)
- ¼ cup basil pesto
- 2 tablespoons olive oil + more for drizzling
- ½ tsp EACH dried oregano, dried parsley
- ¼ tsp EACH dried thyme, red pepper flakes, salt, pepper
- 1 7-8 oz. block feta in brine, preferably French feta/100% sheep's milk (see notes)
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2-3 tablespoons chopped basil
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
Add the tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, pesto, olive oil, oregano, parsley, salt, pepper, thyme and red pepper flakes. Stir all of the ingredients together until evenly coated.
Make room in the center of the dish and add the feta. Drizzle the top of the feta with olive oil.
Bake uncovered for 35 minutes or until the until the feta is soft and tomatoes are bursting.
Meanwhile, chop the garlic and basil and cook the pasta in salted water according to the package directions (plan on adding the pasta to the boiling water 10 minutes before the feta and tomatoes are done). Before draining the pasta, reserve 1 cup of the pasta cooking water for later.
Remove the dish from the oven and immediately add the garlic and basil and stir for 30 seconds so the residual heat can cook the garlic.
Using a spatula, press down on the feta cheese to break it down and make it creamy; then stir everything together until completely combined to create the sauce. Add the pasta and toss to evenly coat with the sauce. For a creamier pasta (recommended), stir in desired amount of reserved pasta water ¼ cup at a time until it reaches desired consistency (I use 1/2 cup).
Taste and season with additional salt, pepper and/or red pepper flakes to taste (I like 1/4 tsp EACH more salt and pepper). For a less tangy pasta, stir in a couple teaspoons sugar or honey to taste (like you do in any tomatoes-based sauce).
Tips for Success
- Use the right feta: This is the number one cooking tip for success! Use a young feta (vs aged) packed in brine (so that it doesn’t dry out too much in the oven) made of sheep’s milk (the creamiest between sheep, goat and cow’s feta) OR has the highest percentage of sheep's milk to goat's milk. This is typically French or Israeli feta located with the specialty cheeses. Brined Greek feta will also work (part sheep’s milk, part goat’s milk) but will be tangier and not quite as creamy.
- Not a fan of feta cheese? If feta is too strong for you, try half feta and half cream cheese for a super creamy pasta. This pasta can also be made with 8 ounces of cream cheese, goat cheese, ricotta cheese, brie cheese or burrata cheese.
- Pasta: Almost any pasta works with this creamy tomato feta sauce. I am partial to medium-shaped pastas such as gemelli (pictured), casarecce, rotini, orecchiette, fusilli elbows, and farfalle, because they provide the best sauce to pasta ratio but larger tube pastas.
- Pasta weight will vary by type: Some pasta types are denser than others, meaning two pastas can weigh the same amount but vary in volume. For example, I used gemelli pasta which is dense and compact so I used 12 ounces of gemelli pasta in this recipe. If I used a less dense/compact pasta such cavatappi, for example, I would only want to use 8 ounces. You may want to cook 12 ounces of pasta and add as needed, realizing you may not use all of it.
- Tomatoes: The sweeter the better! Choose the ripest between cherry and grape tomatoes. If both the cherry and grape tomatoes are ripe, then go for cherry as they tend to be sweeter.
- Sun-dried tomatoes: If you are a sun-dried tomato fan, you will love them in this dish, if not, just skip them and add 1 extra tablespoon of olive oil. Don’t rinse the oil from the tomatoes; just remove the tomatoes, chop and add them straight to the dish.
- Make it gluten-free: The sauce is already gluten free, so to keep the recipe gluten free, serve it over gluten-free pasta (Tinkyada is great brand), sweet potato noodles, zoodles or spaghetti squash. The creamy garlic tomato sauce would also be delicious served over rice, risotto, lentils, farrow, or mashed potatoes. The sauce could also be served over chicken or fish!
- Don’t be afraid to make it your own! Don’t be afraid to add protein, veggies, or Mediterranean add-ins to make it your own. Be sure to refer to my “variations” in the post for all sorts of ideas.
HOW TO STORE AND REHEAT LEFTOVERS
- Storage: Let the pasta cool completely, then transfer to an airtight container; store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
- To reheat in the microwave: This baked feta pasta tends to dry out, so you may want to add a splash of milk before heating. Microwave small portions for 1 minute, stir, then continue to heat at 30-second intervals until warmed through.
- Stove: For larger portions, reheat pasta gently on the stove, stirring occasionally. Again, you may need to add a splash of milk or a drizzle of olive oil to make it ultra creamy again.