An easy, delicious pasta bake with a creamy tomato sauce, soft cubes of halloumi cheese, and sweet juicy cherry tomatoes – sure to be a crowd pleaser for the whole family! Halloumi is an ideal protein to make this vegetarian pasta bake extra hearty, and it is a flexible base recipe that you can add your family’s favorite veggies to.

I’ve been working on the idea of a halloumi pasta bake forever! I originally tried it with the halloumi as the topping, like with this halloumi bake recipe, but that was never quite right. I then noticed that plenty of halloumi recipes out there were baking halloumi in sauce, not afraid to embrace the softer side of this cheese rather than always wanting it fried and crispy. So I tried that, and I have been won over by the soft squishy halloumi.

This pasta bake can be as simple or as veggie packed as you wish!

This is a really flexible format, and you should feel free to add any veggies your family will enjoy. Clean out your fridge!

I’ve kept it as a simple base recipe, with the only fresh veggies added being cherry tomatoes. I developed this recipe with my 6 year old, who is tentatively starting to enjoy cherry tomatoes, so that was our focus. It is definitely a complete and satisfying recipe just as written, BUT there is plenty more you can do with it and it’s very “saucy” as written, which means that adding a little extra veg won’t cause any issues with sauce ratios.

Ingredient Notes

This recipe can be fairly budget friendly with ingredients you can source in the budget range of a supermarket or from Aldi.

  • Halloumi cheese: It’s going to be smothered in sauce so it doesn’t need to be the top shelf stuff. In the US, halloumi will be pricier, but feel free to try a cheaper local “halloumi style” alternative in this instance. Sometimes these imitation halloumis aren’t made quite the same, they can even melt (which true halloumi should never do) but this recipe will be very forgiving if that happens.
  • Pasta: Any short pasta works fine here, penne is my preference.
  • Fresh cherry tomatoes: These will go into the pasta bake raw and provide some nice juicy bursts of fresh flavor within it. You can also add some extra on top at the end for an additional hit of raw tomato, though this is only worth doing if you have really tasty tomatoes on hand. I actually love the Tesco baby plums – they have great flavor and at an unbeatable price.
  • Tomato passata: this is the base of the tomato sauce. (US readers will know passata as tomato puree). If you want to swap in canned tomatoes, feel free, you may just find that it needs a longer cook time for them to thicken up.
  • Garlic: Lots of garlic to add flavor to the sauce.
  • Mixed Italian herbs: add some great flavor to the sauce, if you don’t have a pre-made mix just throw in some dried basil and oregano.
  • Balsamic vinegar: to add depth of flavor.
  • Brown sugar: to add sweetness and combat acidity in the sauce.
  • Butter: is a great shortcut to good flavor since the sauce doesn’t cook for very long. Salted or unsalted will work but if you use unsalted, make sure to salt the sauce a little more.
  • Double or heavy cream: We add this to the sauce to make it thicker and give it a delightfully creamy finish.
  • Fresh basil: a lovely addition if you can manage it, but parsley or other summer herbs could work well.
  • Grated mozzarella: For the perfect crispy topping. You don’t have to buy the bagged stuff, you can use a block of low moisture mozzarella and grate it yourself. Sliced fresh mozzarella works well too though may need longer in the oven to get the nice crispy topping.

Suggested add-ins

Sauteed Veggies – added before Step 2 – saute them in the pan before adding the garlic and herbs and proceeding with the recipe:

  • Onion
  • Eggplant
  • Peppers
  • Zucchini
  • Mushrooms

Add-ins that don’t need to be precooked – added in Step 8 alongside the basil:

  • Leafy greens: Baby spinach or very finely chopped kale
  • Extra protein: A can of white beans or lentils
  • Frozen peas, corn or broccoli (I would recommend chopping the frozen broccoli into smaller pieces before adding)

Halloumi Pasta Bake with Cherry Tomatoes

An easy, delicious pasta bake with a creamy tomato sauce, soft cubes of halloumi cheese, and sweet juicy cherry tomatoes – sure to be a crowd pleaser for the whole family! Halloumi is an ideal protein to make this vegetarian pasta bake extra hearty, and it is a flexible base recipe that you can add your family's favorite veggies to.
5 from 1 rating

Ingredients

  • 250 g (9 oz) penne pasta, or another short pasta shape
  • 250 g (9 oz) halloumi, cubed
  • 150 g (5 oz) cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 500 g (2 cups) passata, see notes
  • 30 g (2 tbsp) butter
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 1 Tbsp mixed Italian herbs
  • 2 tsp brown sugar
  • 1-2 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • 60 ml (¼ cup) double / heavy cream
  • 1 handful basil, chopped
  • 200 g (2 cups) shredded mozzarella

Instructions 

  • Heat a little olive oil in a pan and saute the garlic until just softening. Add the herbs and mix through.
    6 cloves garlic, 1 Tbsp mixed Italian herbs
  • Add the passata, balsamic vinegar, sugar and butter. Stir through until the butter is all melted in. Now allow this to simmer, covered, while you prep the remaining ingredients.
    500 g passata, 2 tsp brown sugar, 1-2 tsp balsamic vinegar, 30 g butter
  • Boil the pasta according to package instructions, but drain it a couple of minutes before it's fully cooked (it will continue to cook in the sauce while it's baking, so this helps ensure it's not over-done). Drain and set aside briefly while you return to the sauce.
    250 g penne pasta
  • Start the oven preheating now to 180C / 360F.
  • Take the sauce off the heat and stir the cream through.
    60 ml double / heavy cream
  • Mix the pasta through the sauce and set aside.
  • Lightly fry the halloumi until slightly golden on each side (you don't need it too dark for this recipe).
    250 g halloumi
  • Add the halloumi and cherry tomatoes to the dish with the pasta and mix through.
    150 g cherry tomatoes
  • Finally, add the fresh basil (this is also where you would add spinach, frozen peas or kale, if you're adding any of these veggies)
    1 handful basil
  • Cover with mozzarella and bake for 20-30 minutes, until the cheese is browned and bubbling.
    200 g shredded mozzarella
  • Serve with additional fresh tomatoes on top, if desired.

Notes

Passata is generally known as tomato puree in the US. 
Calories: 505kcal, Carbohydrates: 44g, Protein: 24g, Fat: 26g, Saturated Fat: 17g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 7g, Trans Fat: 0.2g, Cholesterol: 48mg, Sodium: 774mg, Potassium: 576mg, Fiber: 4g, Sugar: 8g, Vitamin A: 1077IU, Vitamin C: 16mg, Calcium: 640mg, Iron: 3mg