A Dietitian Explains the Health Benefits of the Super-Popular TikTok Baked Feta Pasta

This quick and easy dinner packs in good-for-you nutrients.

February 16, 2021
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Description: Food Network Kitchen's Baked Feta Pasta. Keywords: Cherry Tomatoes, Feta Cheese, Mezze Rigatoni, Garlic, Basil, Red Pepper

Photo by: Matt

Matt

You've likely seen — and probably have made — this simple recipe created by Finnish food blogger Jenni Hayrinen, made famous via TikTok. While it may seem counterintuitive, TikTok-Inspired Baked Feta Pasta is simple, fun, tasty, pretty and (wait for it) healthy! Yup, a recipe containing pasta and a whole block of cheese can have plenty of health benefits thanks to reasonable measurements and the addition of some herbs and vegetables. We used this recipe developed by Amanda Neal for Food Network Kitchen in our own kitchens and here are some of the nutritional highlights.

Tomatoes

You don’t need a dietitian to tell you tomatoes are healthy eats but what many folks don’t know is cooking tomatoes enhances the availability of the antioxidant lycopene. Studies have also concluded that cooking tomatoes in olive oil further enhances this benefit. Baking the cherry tomatoes at high heat in this recipe concentrates them, allowing them to literally burst with flavor.

Pasta

One of the nicest things about this recipe is the appropriate portion of pasta –about 1 cup of cooked pasta per serving. The pasta is also added at the end of preparation so making substitutions is easy. Swap in a gluten-free pasta or use a bean-based pasta for an extra dose of protein. For a lower calorie and lower carb dish, omit the pasta and mix in some roasted spaghetti squash.

Olive Oil

Olive oil is a kitchen staple for good reason. (This bottle is a favorite among our test kitchen staff.) The addition of oil helps the tomatoes roast to perfection plus adds plenty of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats to the sauce.

Photo by: Amanda Neal

Amanda Neal

Feta

This tangy, low-lactose cheese contains 5 grams of protein per ounce. The creamy goodness also contributes to the calcium in this recipe, coming in at 15% of the daily recommendation.

Garlic

Garlic is always a good idea. This member of the allium family has been linked to several health benefits including cancer prevention and cardiovascular health.

Basil

Tomatoes and basil are a match made in pasta heaven. This green herb adds delightful color and floral flavor to finish this recipe, plus contributes a touch of vitamins A and C.

Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC, is a registered dietitian, certified athletic trainer and owner of Dana White Nutrition, Inc., which specializes in culinary and sports nutrition. She is the author of four cookbooks First Bites: Superfoods for Babies and Toddlers, The Healthy Air Fryer Cookbook, The Healthy Instant Pot Cookbook and Healthy Quick and Easy Smoothies.

*This article was written and/or reviewed by an independent registered dietitian nutritionist.

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