WARNING. If you’ve come here expecting some adulterated version of 2021’s TikTok pasta, then you have come to the wrong place.
I barely understand what TikTok is, let alone how to use it or steal recipe inspiration from it. Sorry, not sorry.
Rather, this spicy cherry tomato and feta pasta situation is what happens when you anticipate having the energy to make some sort of feta/tomato appetizer for family that is coming over for the first time in two years but actually can only peel yourself off the couch long enough to pour pita chips into a bowl and open a container of hummus, leaving you with a lot of cherry tomatoes and feta to figure out dinner with.
What is a girl to do other than make pasta?
The beauty in this is that it really is the easiest. The sauce cooks alongside the pasta, so dinner is basically ready in about 20 minutes.
First, you’ll set up a pot of salted water to boil for the pasta and cook the pasta according to package directions. In a separate pan, sliced garlic is bathed in a gluttonous (but necessary) amount of hot olive oil until it’s golden brown. Then cherry tomatoes are added to the pan along with Calabrian chili paste (my secret ingredient!), salt, pepper, and a pinch of sugar. The sauce is cooked until the tomatoes start to break down and release their juices into the oil. Finally, the feta cheese is stirred into the sauce and it’s all mixed together with the pasta. The flavors are really simple and no frills, but just work.
If you don’t already have Calabrian chili paste in your pantry (I found it at Whole Foods), then feel free to substitute harissa or just plain old red pepper flakes in its place. You will likely have to adjust the amount to taste since these are not exactly the same heat level as the chili paste (for instance, most red pepper flakes would be WAY spicier).
- 1 lb cavatappi pasta
- ½ cup olive oil
- 6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 1.5 lb cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1-2 tbsp calabrian chili paste
- salt and black pepper, to taste
- pinch of sugar
- 8 oz feta cheese, crumbled
- red pepper flakes, to garnish
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
- Meanwhile, In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until tender and lightly golden, 2-3 minutes.
- Stir in the tomatoes and chili paste. Season with salt, black pepper, and sugar. Cook until the tomatoes start to break down into a thick sauce, about 8-10 minutes. Remove from the heat and toss with the pasta, along with the crumbled feta.
- Serve topped with red pepper flakes, as desired.