Blistered grape & feta pasta from The Joy of Better Cooking

Recipe appears in 

Serves 4-6

Had I suggested that you bake a block of feta a decade ago, you might’ve thought it a typo. Make feta is what you mean, right, Alice? Yet since baked feta pasta went viral a few years back, the idea of coaxing flavours out of cheese and tomatoes by baking them together and serving them for dinner is now a thing. And the beauty of trends is that they can evolve and shape-shift into all manner of things — a bit of same-same-but-different-ness. As grapes bake, they transform into something surprisingly savoury, while baking the feta mellows its saltiness somewhat. The dish can be served hot, warm or cold — and I prefer it as more of a pasta salad than a pasta pasta.


500 g assorted seedless grapes, washed and taken off the vine

100 g smaller grapes such as currants or muscatels, kept as small bunches

5 tarragon sprigs, leaves picked, reserving the stalks

1/4 cup (60 ml) olive oil, plus extra for finishing

200 g block good-quality feta, halved

1 garlic bulb, halved

500 g orecchiette

½ bunch of chervil (optional, but excellent)

small nasturtium leaves, to garnish (optional)


Preheat the oven to 200°C .


Cut some larger grapes in half and keep the rest whole. Toss them all in your largest baking dish with the tarragon stalks, half the olive oil and a pinch of salt flakes. Push the grapes to one side and add the feta and garlic, then drizzle the rest of the olive oil over. Roast for 30–40 minutes, until the feta is golden brown, and the grapes have wrinkled and started yielding their juices into the pan.


Bring a large saucepan of well-salted water to the boil. About 10 minutes before the feta has finished baking, cook the orecchiette for 1 minute less than recommended by the packet instructions. Drain, reserving a mugful of the pasta water, and toss a glug of olive oil through the pasta to stop it sticking.


When the grapes and feta are ready, pull out the tarragon stalks and garlic. Pour the pasta into the dish, squeeze the garlic cloves out of their skin and gently stir to combine, splashing in the reserved pasta water to loosen if needed. Season to taste, drizzle with more olive oil, and finish with snipped tarragon and chervil, and some small nasturtium leaves, if you have them.


This can be served hot like a pasta, or warm like a pasta salad.


Grapes are seasonal, so check their origin; if they’re being flung halfway around the world, look for ones from closer to home instead.


To make this plant-based, use a planty cheese that bakes well (it’ll say so on the pack).


No time to bake or boil? No biggie! Leave the grapes raw and crumble the feta through plenty of fresh herbs to make a zippy autumn salad. A splash of verjuice, vincotto or even caramelised balsamic vinegar will unite the lot. If you have a spare 5 minutes, make a cheat’s caramelised balsamic by heating equal parts balsamic vinegar and maple syrup in a pan until it thickens. Toss the grapes into the pan once the heat’s off to warm them through.

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