Preheat your oven to 400°F (roughly 204°C) and get your pasta water cooking on high heat. While your oven is getting nice and toasty, wash the tomatoes, summer squash, and basil. Be gentle washing basil. When you're done washing, it's time to break out your knife skills.
Cut, chiffonade, and mince
- Cut the kalamata olives in half
- Cut the summer squash into small, bite-sized pieces (The zucchini shouldn't be any bigger than the size of the cherry tomatoes)
- Chiffonade the basil so that you have nice, thin ribbons throughout your pasta (you will use the entire .75 oz package)
- Mince the garlic (or buy pre-minced garlic)
Don't chop or dice your cherry tomatoes. They are meant to be roasted whole.
How to Chiffonade Basil
Did you know chiffonade means ribbons in French?
I know chiffonade sounds really fancy and unnecessary (Why not just chop them like everything else, right?), but it's an easy method that results in lovely, peppery ribbons of basil throughout your dish. Once you've tried it, it really takes no more effort than the average chop.
Watch the video:
In your baking dish, combine:
- Summer squash
- Olive oil
- Salt and pepper
Give everything a nice stir so that the vegetables are coated in seasoning and oil. Then make a space in the center of the pan to place your feta block. On top of the feta block, drizzle a small amount of olive oil, more salt and pepper, and the crushed red pepper.
- Basil ribbons
- Kalamata olives
Save these two key ingredients to use for your final touches. Bake for 35 minutes.
Boil the farfalle according to package instructions. Keep in mind that it takes about 11-minutes for most farfalle (check the instructions for your pasta), and try to wait to cook your pasta towards the last 15-minutes of cooking time for the tomatoes and feta.
Before draining, reserve about 1/4 cup of pasta water to be added at the end.
When only 5-minutes are left on your timer, add your halved kalamata olives. Don't worry about stirring or disturbing the other ingredients; gently scatter them around on top of your tomatoes.
This is also a good time to reserve the pasta water needed for creating the creamy sauce this dish is known for!
Don't add the basil yet (save the chiffonade for the very end).
Don't just stir these ingredients. There's a bit more to it than that. Don't worry; it's not hard work. It's actually a lot of fun. Before stirring, we need to create the sauce. Here's how:
- Using the back of a wooden spoon or fork, gently mash the feta until it's soft.
- Using the same technique, mash the cherry tomatoes (everything is very hot, so be careful doing this).
Make sure to avoid mashing the summer squash or kalamata olives. You want to have lovely chunks of soft summer squash and bright, salty olives.
- Add in all of the basil (you can save a small amount for a garnish if you'd like)
- Add in the farfalle
- Add in the reserved pasta water (start small and add until you get the consistency you want)
Voila! Creamy baked feta pasta in 35-minutes that's absolutely worth the hype it's receiving online. Serve this crow pleaser up to your family or friends for a dinner party or date, or even just a simple night in by yourself with a good book or movie.
Here are a few more ideas to take this viral feta pasta to the next level:
- Add chopped red pepper- These should be added with the summer squash and tomatoes.
- Add chopped red onion- These should also be added with the summer squash and tomatoes.
- Add chopped artichoke hearts- These should be added with the olives during the last 5-minutes of baking.
- Add chopped fresh spinach- This should be added with the basil.
- Omit the olives and summer squash and use asparagus and mushrooms instead- These should be added with the tomatoes before baking, just as the summer squash is.
- Serve with a small dash of parmesan cheese and fresh cracked pepper.