My take on baked tomato and feta pasta, with a spin! If you love pasta with roasted cherry tomatoes, you'll really like this one. Dried pasta, cherry tomatoes and a block of feta all cook and roast in the oven together with herbs and spices for an easy one-pan meal everyone will love!Print
My take on baked tomato and feta pasta, with a spin! If you love pasta with roasted cherry tomatoes, you'll really like this one. Dried pasta, cherry tomatoes and a block of feta all cook and roast in the oven together with herbs and spices for an easy one-pan meal everyone will love!
- 1 lb small pasta (mini penne, mini bowtie or orzo work great!)
- 2 pints cherry tomatoes
- 6 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 ½ teaspoons salt
- ⅓ cup olive oil, divided
- 8 oz feta (the block works best for this, but crumbled is fine too)
- 6 thyme sprigs
- 2 oz basil
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 2 teaspoons black pepper
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 3 cups water
- 1 cup milk or half and half
- 2 cups baby spinach, chopped
- Zest from 1 lemon
- Preheat oven to 350.
- In a 9x13 pan, add 1 lb pasta, 2 pints of cherry tomatoes, 6 minced garlic cloves and 1 ½ teaspoons salt. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and toss to combine, making sure the pasta is coated in oil.
- Make a little room in the middle and add a 8oz block of feta (or make a mound of the crumbled stuff if that's all you have!). Scatter 6 thyme sprigs, 2oz whole basil leaves, 2 teaspoons black pepper and 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes.
- Drizzle over 2 tablespoons honey and remaining olive oil. Pour 3 cups water and 1 cup milk or half and half over the pasta (don't pour over feta). Gently move things around to make sure all the pasta is submerged.
- Bake for 30 minutes. Increase heat to 400 and bake for another 20-25 minutes until the pasta is cooked through and the feta is brown around the edges.
- Remove pan from oven and immediately add 2 cups chopped baby spinach and the zest of 1 lemon. Mix everything together, smashing feta and tomatoes to create the sauce. It will take a few minutes, but everything will eventually come together! Taste and season with salt as needed.
- Serve with lemon wedges to squeeze over if desired, as well as additional basil.
- This recipe makes A LOT of pasta, but I wanted to share the recipe using a full block of feta. With that said, you can easily halve the recipe and make it in an 8x8 or even 9x9 pan. If you do this, do the initial bake at 350 for 20 minutes and then increase the heat and bake for another 15 minutes before checking.
A fun fact about me is that I will always ALWAYS be late to the party. Not an actual party - those I am awkwardly early to - but the type of party where everyone is super into something and talks about it all the time. I will always be behind when it comes to those kinds of parties.
Case in point: I just started watching The Sopranos. Assuming I'll make it to Breaking Bad by 2032. Or not. We'll see.
With food I'm a little better because I generally just want to eat all the things all the time, but seeing as how this is maybe the last of feta and tomato pasta to hit the internet since it blew up on Tik Tok, I'm clearly late to THIS party.
To be fair, I'm pretty sure you all saw this coming anway after the buffalo chickpea wrap, huh?
Seriously, it's a ONE pan pasta bake!
The good news about doing something AFTER everyone else is that you have all the information needed to make it different, maybe even a little easier? YES.
While you'll notice this recipe has a slightly longer ingredient list than others, you will also notice that literally everything is going in ONE pan. It's a no boil baked pasta - aka no boiling a separate pot of water because we are cooking the pasta right in the oven!
I tried this with a couple of different pasta shapes and found that the smaller variety definitely work best for a one pan pasta bake like this. I love these mini penne I used for these photos, but a regular penne will work too! Mini bowtie or orzo are also great. I didn't test any long pasta (spaghetti, linguine, etc.) so can't say for sure if that will work. If you do try it, reach out and let me know how it goes!
The key to no boil baked pasta is 1. making sure you have enough liquid/the pasta is submerged before it goes in the oven and 2. Layering in a way so any extra juices make their way into the pasta. In this dish, you mix the tomatoes and pasta so that the tomato juices seep into the pasta as it bakes away.
When the dish first comes out of the oven the pasta on the top might look a little dry, but just trust the process. As you start to mix everything together you'll see that it's all cooked perfectly. The feta might take a little time to coat everything, but take the time to make sure it's all evenly distributed. You want every bite to be perfect!
A little more than just feta and tomatoes
This recipe was first shared years ago by Finnish blogger Liemessa. Then MacKenzie from Grilled Cheese Social shared it on her blog and THEN it found its way to Tik Tok...and the rest is (viral) history.
Most versions of this pasta use just a few ingredients - feta, tomatoes, olive oil, garlic and basil (plus salt and pepper and stuff). And while that makes a perfectly adequate pasta, it just wasn't enough for me. I don't want to be that person that's all "it needed more depth of flavor," but um, it needed more depth of flavor!!
Feta is SO delicious but it can be a bit overpowering as a main flavor agent, especially in a pasta bake like this, and definitely needs something to balance it. I played around with a few things, but finally settled on a version that I think is just as easy to throw together but amps up the flavor.
So here's what you need to make this one pan baked tomato and feta pasta:
Pasta: Like I said before, I love using small shapes for this. Smaller pastas always work great when it comes to one pan pasta bakes & no boil pasta dishes!
Cherry tomatoes: Perfect because you can make this dish year-round! I especially love cherry tomatoes when I want roasted tomatoes with my pasta because they get so sweet and juicy.
Olive oil: You'll use a decent amount, so pick a good one.
Garlic: The original recipe adds a little raw garlic at the end after everything is cooked. I prefer to add more and let it cook along with everything else.
Feta: The block is best for this, but crumbled will work! Just make sure you keep it in a "mound" in the middle so it kind of stays together while baking.
Honey: Just a little bit adds a touch of sweetness and balances out the acidity from the tomatoes and lemon. It's one of those ingredients you won't know is there, but you'll kind of miss if it's not? If you don't have honey, just sprinkle on 2 teaspoons of sugar.
Half and half/Milk: A little creamy half and half mixed in with the water makes this pasta unbelievably creamy. Even a little decadent! You can totally use just water, but if you happen to have some half and half or milk hanging around, I'd definitely pour it in.
Herbs: The original adds fresh basil at the end, but I like to cook a couple of sprigs of thyme and even some basil right from the get go. Add more fresh herbs when serving as desired!
Seasonings: Salt, pepper and red pepper flakes. Feel free to play around with other dried herbs if you'd like!
Baby spinach: Because this giant pan of creamy pasta just needed a little extra green. Just stir it in at the end to wilt.
Lemon: Again, another balancing ingredient. Lemon zest (and juice if you like) cuts the creaminess of this pasta perfectly.
Scaling + Storing
This recipe makes A LOT of pasta, but I wanted to share the recipe using a full block of feta. With that said, you can easily halve the recipe and make it in an 8x8 or even 9x9 pan. If you do this, do the initial bake at 350 for 20 minutes and then increase the heat and bake for another 15 minutes before checking.
This pasta is best the day it's made, but leftovers will stay in the fridge for up to 5 days. As the pasta can tend to dry out over time, add a little water or half and half/milk when you reheat it to keep everything creamy.
If you love pastas with roasted tomatoes, I think you'll like these too!
One pan pasta (cooking for one!)
Need ideas for leftover ingredients?
With this recipe, you'll likely have leftover thyme, half and half (or milk) and feta (if you halve the recipe). Here are some ideas to use those ingredients up!
Half and half or milk
- Creamed spinach chicken skillet
- Creamy poblano chicken and roasted corn enchiladas
- Or try one of my pumpkin tahini or iced cherry mint lattes!