While many of TikTok’s finest food trends involve a laundry list of saccharine-sweet ingredients or require professional pastry chef-level decorating skills, the latest viral recipe is as easy as can be. Meet #bakedfetapasta, a fuss-free feta and noodle dish that’s likely responsible for the absence of full blocks of feta cheese available in your grocery store right now.
The viral recipe, which appears to date back to a 2019 video by Finnish food blogger Jenni Häyrinen, involves plopping tomatoes seasoned with olive oil, salt and pepper in a baking dish with a full block of feta cheese in the middle, covering it and cooking it until the feta melts. Next, add garlic, basil, red-pepper flakes, mix it with pasta and voila — you’ve baked TikTok’s hottest new trend.
Google searches for the savory cheesy dish, known as “uunifetapasta” in Finnish, have skyrocketed over the past few days as more and more food hounds try out the delicacy for themselves.
The dish has been such a hit in Finland that it’s become a running reference in the TikTok videos, not to mention that Finnish grocery stores are selling out of a feta as a result of the craze.
While the network has inspired countless less than tasty and downright dangerous trends over the years, this one is actually quite good.
- Tomatoes: Opt for cherry or grape tomatoes for this recipe, their small size means optimal flavor, and the presentation of the tomatoes when they burst is just stunning.
- Feta Cheese: Use a block of feta cheese for best results. The block is less processed and will give a more melty consistency when baked, yes, it will still work with crumbled feta, just make sure to keep the feta stacked in the middle so that it creates a melty consistency together.
- Pasta: You can use any pasta you’d like, or try it with a gluten-free pasta. We have seen this made with penne, spaghetti, bow-tie noodles, and they work. There’s no wrong shape of pasta to use. However, something with curves or edges could be better so that the sauce can cling on to more of the pasta.
- Fresh Herbs and Seasonings: You’ll definitely need olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic, and fresh basil. But beyond that, zhuzh as much as you’d like. Try adding some fresh oregano, fresh thyme, or switching the fresh garlic for roasted garlic.
The Method, Step-by-Step:
- Using an oven-safe baking dish, toss in your cherry or grape tomatoes, and shower them with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Then mix to combine.
- Add a full block of feta cheese to the center of the baking dish. It’s key to either flip it around a couple times so that it gets coated with the olive oil and seasoning, or just add a touch more olive oil and a couple cracks of fresh black pepper on top.
- Bake it in the oven until the tomatoes burst and the feta looks melted.
- As soon as it comes out of the oven, add some fresh minced garlic and fresh basil leaves.
- Mix it around immediately so that the garlic softens from the heat in the dish.
- Add cooked pasta on top and give everything a good stir. The melty feta and bursted tomatoes will essentially create a sauce for the pasta. Serve right out of the baking dish.
Use the freshest ingredients possible. With such minimal ingredients, we highly recommend using fresh cherry tomatoes (not canned diced tomatoes), fresh basil, and fresh minced garlic. Extra virgin olive oil makes all the difference here—it’s essentially what makes up the sauce.
Save the pasta water. Save a half cup of pasta water just in case the pasta dish comes out dry, you can certainly add it if you feel the baked feta pasta needs more sauce.
Crowd the baking dish with the cherry tomatoes. If you want your roasted cherry tomatoes to be saucy, you need to crowd the pan. (Even though we’d never recommend this if you were roasting potatoes or sautéing mushrooms.) That being said, if you prefer them dry roasted, place your tomatoes in a single layer to allow for air circulation.
Increase the heat for blistered tomatoes. You can set the oven to broil for two minutes at the end, or turn the temperature to 230°C during the last five minutes of cooking.
P.S. If you want to make it even easier, skip the oven and use your stovetop instead.