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There’s a reason the internet loves baked feta pasta: It’s easy, fast and tasty

Baked feta pasta (Photo by Julia O'Malley)

Baked feta pasta is triple fire emoji hot in the social media world right now, and it makes sense. It’s really easy — so easy you can make the whole thing in a TikTok video — and makes a great weeknight dinner. And, all the main ingredients can also be purchased at Costco. So for Alaskans who love the bulk buying, that’s another convenient bonus.

The basic idea is to bake feta with tomatoes until it’s melty and then mix it into a sauce, but there are many, many versions out there. Some use more tomatoes, some use a little less. Some skip the lemon and the basil. Some go much harder on dried thyme, and a few call for pasta water to thin the sauce.

Many don’t use a shallot, but to me that flavor is key. In fact, I have made it without garlic at all. Shallot works magic with the background heat of red pepper flakes and the brightness of the lemon. One thing about a number of the recipes online is that they make a LOT. In my opinion, the pasta isn’t that awesome once it cools, so it’s not an ideal leftover food. I slimmed down the recipe to feed four to five.

I almost added a cup of pitted kalamata olives to my official recipe, but I realize olives can be controversial in some circles, especially ones involving children. I recommend them as a briny add-in if you come from pro-olive people, though. Just toss them right in there with the tomatoes before you put it in the oven. I also like to drizzle my pasta with aged balsamic for extra tang. If you’ve got some of that, give it a go.

Baked feta pasta

Serves 4 generously

1 8-ounce brick of Greek feta

1 1/2 pints cherry tomatoes

1 shallot, very thinly sliced

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1/4 cup olive oil

1/8 tsp dried thyme

zest and juice of half a lemon

1/8-1/4 tsp red pepper flakes, depending on taste

Sea salt

Pepper

1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped into ribbons

14 ounces dry pasta shapes, like penne, gemelli or farfalle

Instructions: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Place the brick of feta in the center of a large pie dish or medium-sized rectangular baking pan. Dump tomatoes around it, toss in shallot and garlic. Pour olive oil over cheese and tomatoes. Sprinkle with thyme, zest, red pepper flakes, a generous pinch of sea salt. Bake for 35 minutes. Meanwhile, bring a pot of salted water to a boil, cook pasta according to package directions — set a timer! — and drain. Remove the feta from the oven. The top should be browned around the edges and it should be very soft. Stir the feta and the cooked tomatoes together to form a creamy sauce. Combine it with the hot pasta. (If desired, just pour the pasta into the baking dish and toss.) Add basil, a big squeeze of lemon, a few cracks of black pepper and adjust salt to taste. Serve immediately.

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