Baked Feta Pasta with Broccoli, Lemon, and Minty Kale Pesto

When I saw that TikTok pasta trend with the baked feta and tomatoes, I knew I had to try it (and try to do it better). I think I succeeded with this delicious take on the viral dish, but I’ll let you be the judge of that. I swapped tomatoes for broccoli for a little green veggie overhaul (and because tomatoes aren’t in season for me right now), then added fresh lemon to brighten the dish. The pasta is finished off with a quick pesto made with fresh mint, kale, olive oil, lemon juice, and spices and it really takes this pasta over the edge in terms of fresh flavor.

Ingredients needed to make Baked Feta Pasta with Broccoli, Lemon, and Minty Kale Pesto

If you’ve seen the viral video of this pasta, you probably know the majority of the ingredients you need. This recipe will not work with store-bought crumbled feta, so be sure to get an 8oz block. Here’s the full list:

  • Pasta
  • Broccoli
  • Feta cheese block
  • Olive oil
  • Crushed red pepper flakes
  • Lemon juice and zest
  • Fresh kale
  • Fresh mint
  • Fresh garlic
  • Honey
  • Salt

Tools used to make Baked Feta Pasta with Broccoli, Lemon, and Minty Kale Pesto

To make this recipe, you’ll need a few kitchen tools. First, a large pot to boil the pasta, as well as a 9x13in baking dish. Additionally, you’ll want to have a large cutting board, sharp knife, food processor or high speed blender, a microplane or cheese grater (for zesting), and measuring cups. That’s it!

How to make Baked Feta Pasta with Broccoli, Lemon, and Minty Kale Pesto

You’ll begin by preheating your oven and bring a pot of water to a boil. Chop the broccoli into small florets and arrange in a baking dish around a block of feta cheese. Drizzle with olive oil and bake for 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, you’ll cook the pasta according to package directions, making sure to reserve 1/2 cup of the cooking water just before draining.

To make the pesto, combine all the ingredients into a food processor or high speed blender, then blitz until a pesto forms. You may need to add more olive oil to achieve desired consistency, as well as additional honey and/or salt to taste.

Once the feta and broccoli have baked, toss the feta with the broccoli and pasta water in the baking dish to create a creamy mixture. Add the pasta and a couple tablespoons of the pesto and gently toss again, coating the pasta in the sauce. Top with lemon zest, additional pesto if desired, and serve immediately!

Looking for other delicious pasta dishes?

Try these recipes from The Ardent Cook!

Wild Mushroom Farro with Parmesan and Microgreens

Creamy Green Goddess Pasta

Vegetarian Bolognese

Recipe Ingredients

For the pasta

1lb pasta

1 medium head broccoli, cut into small florets

1 8oz block feta 

½ cup olive oil, divided

¼ tsp crushed red pepper flakes

Zest of 1 lemon

½ cup pasta cooking water, reserved 

For the pesto

Juice of ½ lemon

¼ cup olive oil

¼ cup fresh kale, packed

⅛ cup fresh mint, packed 

1 small garlic clove

1 tsp honey

½ tsp salt

Recipe Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Arrange broccoli florets around feta block in a large glass baking dish. Drizzle all over with ½ cup olive oil, then season with crushed red pepper flakes. Bake for 25 minutes, or until broccoli is tender and beginning to crisp up. 
  2. Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package instructions, reserving ½ cup of the cooking liquid before draining. Set pasta and reserved water aside. 
  3. Combine lemon juice, olive oil, kale, mint, garlic, honey, and salt in a food processor or high speed blender. Pulse until a pesto forms. Additional olive oil may be needed to achieve desired texture. 
  4. Remove the baking dish from the oven and add pasta cooking water. Stir to combine immediately, mixing the feta with the water to create a cheesy sauce. Gently fold in the cooked pasta and approximately 2 tbsp of the minty kale pesto. Serve immediately, topped with fresh lemon zest and additional pesto, if desired. Leftover pasta can be reheated on the stovetop or in the microwave, and leftover pesto should be stored in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

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Curried Kale Salad with Crispy Chickpeas

Happy Memorial Day Weekend! While this MDW is looking much different than years prior, we can still celebrate the beautiful weather with delicious food and family (from a distance, of course).

This Curried Kale Salad with Crispy Chickpeas is the perfect addition to your weekend barbecue menu. The kale is hearty and can be made ahead, as it doesn’t go soggy like most other greens. Other bonus? The creamy dressing is completely vegan (thank you tahini), so it won’t be an issue if left out in the sun for a bit too long. If you don’t have tahini, any neutral nut butter will work in its place. I would recommend natural and unsweetened almond or cashew butter. If you do substitute the tahini, make sure whatever you’re using in its place is as runny as possible (i.e., from a newly opened jar with a good amount of oil content). If you use a nut butter that is too firm, your dressing will be difficult to whisk together. If this happens, try adding 1-2 TBSP hot water to loosen everything up!

The most difficult part of this salad is letting the chickpeas crisp in the oven without growing impatient. They do take a solid 25-30 minutes to get totally crisp, but they’re so worth it. The nice part about waiting for the chickpeas to roast is that you give the kale a chance to sit and tenderize in some of the creamy curry dressing, so it becomes silkier and less chewy!

You can top this salad with anything that sounds delicious to you, although I highly recommend the feta, scallions, and dried cranberries in addition to those chickpeas. Other great options would be olives, nuts, or additional veggies.

Regarding the dressing… it’s addictive. In addition to a salad dressing, you can use it as a dip for crudités, a sauce for grilled proteins, or in place of the mayonnaise in chicken or tuna salad.

I hope you keep this salad in mind when you’re planning that MDW menu. Get creative with the toppings and enjoy this low-stress, healthy side that doesn’t skimp on flavor. If you make this salad, don’t forget to share your photos and tag me @theardentcook on Instagram!

Ingredients

2 bunches kale, de-stemmed and leaves finely sliced

¼ cup tahini (see recipe notes above)

Juice of 3 lemons

2 tablespoons soy sauce 

2 tablespoons curry powder

1 tsp coconut sugar

½ tsp salt, plus more to taste

¼ tsp black pepper

Raisins or dried cranberries, for topping

Thinly sliced green onion, for topping

Feta, for topping

Crispy roasted chickpeas, for topping (see recipe below) 

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit
  2. Rinse and thoroughly dry a can of chickpeas. Toss with olive oil, and a pinch each of salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper flakes.
  3. Spread the chickpeas out into a single layer on a foil-lined, rimmed baking sheet. Bake until crispy, about 25-30 minutes.
  4. While the chickpeas bake, prepare the salad. Wash, dry, and remove the stems from 2 bunches of kale. I love to use a mix of lacinato (dinosaur) and curly kale.
  5. Using a very sharp knife, gather the leaves and thinly slice the kale into strips. The thinner you slice, the more tender the salad will taste overall. Add to a large salad bowl.
  6. Prepare the dressing. In a separate bowl, combine tahini, lemon juice, soy sauce, curry powder, coconut sugar, salt, and pepper and whisk until emulsified. Pour 1/2 of the dressing onto the kale and massage it into the leaves with your hands. Cover and let rest at room temperature while the chickpeas finish crisping.
  7. Assemble the salad. Thinly slice scallions and scatter on top of the salad, along with the crispy chickpeas, dried cranberries, and crumbled feta. Drizzle on the remaining dressing, or serve on the side. Enjoy!
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