roasted tomato, herb and feta pasta

This roasted tomato, herb and feta pasta is so easy and has become a regular in so many of my students houses since I taught it last year. I love it because it is so simple, has very few ingredients and is packed full of flavour and goodness. It has a ton of variations so once you’ve got this recipe down, you’ll make it without even looking at the recipe.

And, although this goes against my beliefs, it works with out of season tomatoes as well as in-season ones. The roasting concentrates the flavour and sweetens up sub-par toms.

Use the recipe to make different dinners on another night:

  • Use this baked tomato and cheese as a dip for crusty bread instead of pasta.
  • If pasta isn’t your bag, use the tomato and feta sauce to serve alongside chicken
  • Roast double the tomato and cheese and use it to spread on flatbread before baking it for an easy homemade pizza night.
  • Top the pasta and sauce (in the pan you roasted the tomatoes in) with fresh breadcrumbs and grated cheese and bake until the crumbs are golden. If doing this, omit the rocket and serve it as a dressed salad on the side.

Choose the right pasta and cook it perfectly

Use whatever pasta you like. This gutsy sauce works well with a robust wholegrain pasta. Be sure to use a shape rather than spaghetti so that it holds onto the sauce.

The water you cook pasta in should be as salty as the Mediterranean sea. That way your pasta has some flavor before you add the sauce – so you need to work less hard to make everything taste amazing. A larger quantity of water gives the pasta more space to move around (to prevent sticking) and will return to a boil more quickly after the pasta is added.

Active prep time: 5 minutes. Cooking time: 30-40 minutes

roasted tomato, herb and feta pasta ingredients (serves 4):

Around a tablespoon of olive or rapeseed oil

3-4 stems of fresh thyme, rosemary or marjoram

4 cloves of garlic

½–1 fresh red chilli, thinly sliced, or a pinch of red chilli flakes

450g (1lb) cherry tomatoes

200g (7 oz) best-quality Feta (keep some back to crumble raw at the end)

350-450g (12-16oz) dried wholegrain pasta shape of your choice (see note above)

4 big handfuls of rocket (arugula)

½ to 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

To make…

  1. Preheat the oven to 200C (400F)
  2. Tumble the tomatoes, whole, into a Pyrex or ceramic roasting pan – around 20cm square.
  3. Squish the cloves of garlic, unpeeled with the side of your knife and add those to the tomatoes along with the herbs and the sliced chili.
  4. Break about 10% off the top of the block of feta and set aside. Lay the bigger piece, left whole, in the tray so that the cheese is touching the bottom of the pan and the tomatoes and garlic are surrounding it (we’ll keep that 10% bit back to crumble, raw, over the finished pasta).
  5. Poke half the stems of herbs under the cheese and the rest on top before drizzling the olive oil over everything. Grind black pepper and scatter around a teaspoon of sea salt over everything then give the pan a shake.
  6. Put it in the oven for around 30-40 minutes, check after 30 minutes and take out of the oven when the tomatoes are soft and golden and the cheese is golden too. Discard the herb stems and squish the garlic out of its skins then discard the skins.
  7. While the tomatoes and cheese cook, boil a large pan of water, add a couple of teaspoons of grain sea salt and cook the pasta according to the package instructions.
  8. Use the back of a spatula to scrape the crusty bits from the bottom of the pan and gently squash the tomatoes and cheese so you have a rough sauce. Taste and add more salt, pepper and some red wine vinegar. The vinegar really lifts things. Add it gradually, tasting as you go.
  9. Use a slotted spoon to scoop pasta straight into the pan of tomatoes and cheese. If some water is clinging to the pasta that is great as it will help make the sauce more creamy (trust me). Stir everything together so that the sauce coats the pasta. Taste again and add salt and pepper and vinegar as needed.
  10. Stir some rocket through the pasta and serve with a sprinkle of the raw cheese on top.

I’d love to see what you end up with, so remember to share this with your friends and on my Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or Pinterest when you make it. Tag it #ystcook so I can see!