Baked Feta Meets Chickpeas in This One-Pot Pasta

Two popular recipes combine to create one comforting weeknight dinner.
A skillet with ditalini pasta chickpeas feta lemons and fresh herbs.
Photo by Elizabeth Coetzee, Food styling by Rebecca Jurkevich

Welcome to Jesse Fixes Dinner, a series in which food editor Jesse Szewczyk shares his best tricks for effortless weeknight cooking.

Not all internet sensations live up to their hype. Whipped coffee, rainbow bagels, and a questionable concoction called vodka butter are just some of the viral trends I’ve been recently disappointed by. But some recipes go viral for a reason: Because they are genuinely delicious. Baked feta pasta—the delicious combination of (you guessed it) baked feta tossed with pasta—is a prime example. Other recipes, like the old-school Italian favorite pasta con ceci, have withstood the test of time and remained culinary classics.

So when thinking of ways to innovate my weeknight dinner routine I borrowed something old and something new, combining the best of baked feta pasta with the timeless beauty of pasta con ceci. Let’s welcome to the stage: baked feta pasta with chickpeas, a fuss-free weeknight meal that combines a new-age internet sensation with a culinary classic. Here’s what I borrowed (and changed) from both recipes to make the ultimate mash-up:

The base: pasta con ceci

Whether you’re making Smitten Kitchen’s infused-oil–topped version, or Victoria Granof’s six-ingredient interpretation, the constant always remains a trio of chickpeas, tomatoes, and pasta.

My version keeps things simple and fairly traditional, cooking ditalini pasta (the teeny tiny tubes) with chickpeas directly in a pan with tomato paste, garlic, and plenty of water—no separate boiling required. A hearty addition of grated Parmesan cheese adds a luscious creamy texture and additional pop of salty-savoriness that might not be traditional, but is certainly welcomed.

The topping: baked feta (plus a few fun garnishes)

Baked feta took off on TikTok in 2021 with seemingly every creator baking planks of feta nestled alongside tomatoes. What made it so successful was the combination of salty, sharp feta combined with sweet, jammy tomatoes cooked in an entirely hands-off way; you just throw it all into a baking dish and pop it in the oven. This recipe borrows those same flavors (and the one-pan sensibility), swapping out the tomatoes for the sweet, saucy pasta with chickpeas with equal success. Just top the pasta con ceci base with hefty planks of feta and let it bake.

The key to creating perfect pieces that hold up to the hearty pasta is to track down feta sold in large hunks that are at least an inch thick, not thin vacuum-sealed portions or crumbled varieties. This large block variety is usually sold in the fancy cheese section of most grocery stores. Nestle the feta on top of the pasta, bake until softened, then broil until deeply golden. (If all you can find is the thin planks, don’t fret: Thinner planks might not be as dramatic but will be equally as delicious.)

Once the feta is browned around the edges and slightly charred, top the skillet with a bushel of tender herbs (I prefer dill and parsley, but just about any would work) and serve with a scattering of lemon wedges. Rather than stirring the baked feta into the pasta, I like to keep mine separate, treating it more like a meaty sidekick. This makes for an impressive presentation fit for either a holiday or lazy Tuesday night. The resulting pasta is the best of both worlds that highlights the merits of two worthy internet sensations in a brand-new, easy-to-make package.