Some of my most favorite meals don’t require recipes. They just come together with simple, quality ingredients, making them easy to commit to memory and open for future improvisation.
So, when I was scrolling through TikTok, a pasta dish that’s gone viral piqued my attention and tempted my tastebuds: A block of feta is placed in a baking dish, surrounded by cherry tomatoes and given a generous bath of olive oil and garlic. When it’s pulled out of the oven, it’s mashed and stirred together creating a creamy tomato sauce for your pasta. Easy-peasy, and a very visually satisfying process.
Here’s the video from TikTok user CookingWithAyeh that’s amassed more than 1 million likes:
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My question: Can you crave something you’ve never tasted before? I’d say yes, because that’s how I ended up at the grocery store an hour after seeing the video, clutching a block of feta, heirloom tomatoes and rotini pasta. Interestingly, Ayeh, in her video says she’s heard that this pasta dish is so popular in Finland it caused a feta cheese shortage. TikTok tall tale or truth? I might just buy it, because I nabbed the last block of feta at my local grocery store, and when I made it to the check out lane, the store clerk said everyone was buying feta and tomatoes recently.
Would this pasta that’s gone viral change my life? Or would it be as cringe-worthy as the last time I — an elder millennial — tried to hop on a TikTok trend, squinting at my phone screen as I floundered about my living room trying to nail the choreography of a dance the kids these days made up and that had gone viral?
I’m here to report that unlike my dancing skills, this pasta recipe is absolutely phenomenal. It’s far easier than making a bechamel. The sauce was complex, with bright and zesty tomatoes pairing perfectly with the salty, tangy feta. Crumbly feta is versatile enough, I learned, to turn into a creamy sauce.
Here’s how I made the TikTok feta and tomato pasta, but really, you can adjust as you see fit:
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and position an oven rack on the top rack.
- Place a block of feta cheese to the center of a baking dish, and add in two pints of tomatoes (1 pint of cherry tomatoes, 1 pint of heirloom tomatoes). I also added in some asparagus to bulk it up with some more veggies.
- The TikTok recipe uses fresh, unpeeled garlic cloves, but for simplicity sake, I used diced garlic from a jar. You could also chop fresh garlic or use a garlic press.
- Drizzle with olive oil.
- Season with dried oregano, pepper and just a couple pinches of salt (the feta is already pretty salty).
- Add fresh herbs. I used basil and oregano.
- Pop it in the oven for about 25 minutes. Meanwhile, boil your pasta. I used rotini and highly recommend using a dense noodle like this because the sauce binds to it well. The original recipe used orecchiette, which would also be great for holding lots of the sauce.
- Drain your pasta.
- Pull your tomato-feta dish out of the oven and mash it up.
Toss in your pasta and enjoy!
I made this for a friend, and we both went wild over it. I’ll be making it again in the future, and here are a few ways I’ll improvise:
- Sauté some mushrooms to add in to the pasta
- Add in chicken or shrimp
- Make it with burrata or mozzarella instead of feta
My take: This pasta is worth the hype!