Baked Ricotta Salata & Veggie Pasta

Baked Ricotta Salata & Veggie Pasta

Yes, we are putting one foot on the bandwagon with this one. We know you’ve all seen, and are already tired of seeing, the viral baked feta cheese and pasta craze that has swept the internet. This recipe draws inspiration from that, with some unique twists that help make this a fresher and lighter tasting version than what you’ve been pummeled with over the past weeks. We are subbing out the feta cheese for ricotta salata cheese, which doesn’t melt, even after being in the oven for 20 minutes at 400°F. What you ultimately end up with are blistered tomatoes and hot cheese crumbles which give this version a pleasant texture that is absent in the baked feta recipes. We also decided to add fresh basil and use veggie rotini pasta which, while outside the norm, really added to the refreshing Mediterranean flavors that are packed into this dish. All in all, this is a healthy dinner option that masquerades as comfort food. If you're into the Mediterranean diet, then you’ll be into this recipe.

Pro Tip: Slice up and mix in some grilled chicken for a protein packed super meal. Some other items you could add are hot peppers, like serrano or fresno chilis, for some heat and an even more complex flavor profile. Finally, this dish would be a great vehicle for Caesar dressing if you’re as into that kind of thing as I am.

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The Ingredients

  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ block of ricotta salata cheese
  • 1 dry qt (approx. 4.5 cups) fresh cherry tomatoes
  • ½ tbsp salt
  • ½ tbsp ground black pepper
  • 12 oz box veggie rotini pasta
  • ¼ cup fresh basil, chopped

The Steps

  1. Preheat your oven to 400°F. Coat the bottom of your stargazer cast iron skillet with 3 tbsp of olive oil. Add the ricotta salata cheese in the middle of the cooking surface and pour the tomatoes in around the cheese block. Drizzle the remaining olive oil over the top of the cheese and tomatoes. Sprinkle with the sale and ground black pepper and move to the preheated oven and bake uncovered for 20 minutes at 400°F.
  2. On the stovetop, in a large pot, cook the box of veggie rotini pasta according to the directions on the box. We recommend al dente pasta.
  3. Carefully remove the skillet from the oven. Using a wooden spoon or spatula, crush the blistered tomatoes and break down the cheese block into small crumbled pieces. Add the cooked and drained pasta to the skillet and mix thoroughly until combined. Add the chopped basil to the skillet and mix until thoroughly combined.
  4. If desired, serve with salt, pepper, extra virgin olive oil and chopped basil on the side. Enjoy!

 

Prep Time: 10 min

Cook Time: 20 min

Serves: 4-6

 

 


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