This quarantine has brought us many food gifts. From dalgona coffee to ube pandesal, we all rode the food trends made popular in the kitchen by creativity and boredom.
Now, there’s the baked feta cheese pasta that’s all over the internet. It first trended on TikTok—as many things start in our collective boredom—weeks ago but this time it’s actually a useful trend for everyone.
According to Food52.com, this recipe goes back to 2019, before the pandemic made home cooks out of all of us. Remember that time in our lives when we were free to travel and go to restaurants without fear of catching a virus?
The site traces it back to food blogger and artist Jenni Häyrinen when she posted an “uunifeta pasta or oven baked feta pasta” on her Instagram.
“The dish’s preparation was simple: roast a block of feta, a smattering of cherry tomatoes, and a couple of chopped chilis on the same sheet tray. Once melty and blistered, remove, combine, and toss with freshly cooked spaghetti, or your pasta of choice. The result is a ridiculously easy and overwhelmingly flavorful pasta sauce (we know—we tried it!) that first took off in her native Finland.”
View this post on Instagram
Yes, Finland. The Italians must have said “Merda!” and the Greeks scratched their heads —but hey, good pasta is good pasta, as is cheese.
Feta cheese, as we all know, originates from Greece. It’s a brined white cheese from sheep's milk or from a mixture of sheep and goat's milk. Greeks use it all the time—in salads, spanakopita or traditional spinach pie and all sorts of pies. And sometimes all on its own with olives on the side, which is what they serve you as free appetizer in restaurants from Athens to Paros.
It’s so simple to make. You can bake it or make it as sauce in a pan if you don’t have an oven.
Put a block of feta cheese (or goat’s cheese as alternative—even quesong puti) on top of cherry tomatoes in a baking dish. Drizzle olive oil, salt and pepper and other seasonings like dried herbs.
Bake it until the cheese is soft and the tomatoes are roasted.
Then mash them together and add cooked pasta. Some people add a little tomato sauce as well, but it’s not necessary since you already have roasted cherry tomatoes. (For me, that’s just overdoing it—it’s simple and great as it is.)
Then top with fresh basil leaves.
The steps are the same if you’re cooking it in a pan instead of baking. Just sauté the cherry tomatoes in olive oil and add garlic, season, add the feta cheese until it’s soft. Mix in cooked pasta and fresh basil leaves.
Below is a non-bake pan version from @the_pastaqueen. (You have to do the hair toss like she did before cooking.)
View this post on Instagram
It’s a quick meal in itself or you can have it as a side dish with roasted chicken. Yummy!
Banner photos from the Instagram account @iamwellandgood