Colorful Baked Feta Pasta
The TikTok food trend sensation was originally created by the Finnish food blogger and artist Jenni Häyrinen and it was written in Finnish. After the recipe was filmed and went viral on TikTok, so many people hurried to buy feta cheese blocks that it caused a shortage of feta in Finnish grocery stores.
Usually I would disregard a recipe that tries to imitate and make shortcuts of Italian cuisine. It's already perfect in all its simplicity. For example, you will never see me make a one-pot pasta dish. Please don't be lazy and cook your pasta in a separate pot, respect your food and its origins.
That being said, the original recipe does show a lot of respect for Italian cuisine and builds on it. It even tells you to cook the pasta al dente. If you think about it, it features all the classic and fundamental ingredients that you would expect in an authentic Italian pasta dish: ✔️roasted tomatoes, ✔️garlic, ✔️olive oil. Only the feta cheese is a Greek foreigner, but it has an Italian name and it's not a blasphemy to use it with pasta.
Watch this cute video of an Italian chef expressing his opinion on this particular trend. He's got a point, but still doesn't thrash the recipe.
As if the world needs another feta pasta recipe, I decided to jump on the trend train, add color to it and of course make it more Italian. So I went to my local supermarket and swept every variety of cherry tomatoes off the shelves.
The full list of ingredients:
500 g durum wheat pasta of your choice
1 block (300 g) feta cheese
1/2 cup olive oil
500 g cherry tomatoes
cloves from 1 garlic head
1 red onion sliced in wedges
Place all the ingredients in the tray. The feta block in the center, surrounded by a sea of cherry tomatoes and olive oil, garlic and onion wedges swimming in there too, all seasoned by salt, pepper and oregano.
The tray goes into the oven, preheated to 400 F / 200 C, for 40-50 minutes. The tomatoes will roast, caramelize, burst and flood the tray with their juices.
Ten minutes before you feel the feta and the tomatoes are going to be ready, boil water in a pot, salt it generously and cook the pasta in it until it's al dente. Remember that the pasta should never wait for the sauce to be ready, so cook it as close to the final step as possible.
Take the tomatoes tray out of the oven and mix all the ingredients with a spoon. The feta should be very soft at this point and it will fall apart as you stir the contents of the tray. The mixture is very watery now because of all the burst tomato juices. The nice Italian chef in the video asked "where is the pasta water?". Well, now is the time for the pasta water to shine. Add the pasta and a couple of ladles of the magical pasta water to the tomatoes-feta mixture. The pasta water will thicken it thanks to the starch released by the pasta during cooking.
Now it's ready to serve with lots of parmesan on top and basil leaves for garnish.
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