2020 might have had delgona coffee, banana bread and sourdough starters. But in 2021 this baked feta and tomato recipe by food blogger and artist Jenni Häyrine not only broke the internet, but supposedly caused a feta shortage in Finland! So naturally with nothing but socially distanced time on my hands I had to see for myself whether something so simple is really worth all the hoo-ha. And in short yes. Yes it is. It’s easy. It’s cheap. It’s meat free. And like a French toast omelette it is infinitely better than the sum of its parts.
Just a few notes:
- The original recipe calls for cocktail tomatoes. I couldn’t find at the only shop I could bother to go to that day, but they had some perfectly ripened, impossibly red beefsteak tomatoes so I just chopped those up.
- I used traditional Greek style feta. This resulted in a caramelised, crumbly texture that was just gorgeous and still made for a creaminess to every bite. Danish feta would give you a creamier consistency overall.
- The secret to success here (for my taste at least) is confiting the tomatoes till they’re gorgeously jammy. So don’t be scared to push your scarlet beauties to the edge of their endurance and don’t skimp on the olive oil!
- The original recipe calls for 500g pasta, which I found a bit much for the tomatoes. I reduced it by 40%. Like with all good pastas, adding some of the cooking liquid to the sauce will bring the whole thing together, so remember that before you strain the lot!
- You can add grated or chopped garlic to the recipe, but I love the subtle and sweet flavour that roasting whole cloves of garlic imparts.
Baked feta and tomato pasta
- 200g feta
- 125ml olive oil
- ½ red chilli (optional and to taste)
- 500g tomatoes (cherry or beefsteak, cut into chunks)
- 4 whole garlic cloves, skin on
- freshly ground black pepper
- salt to taste
- bunch of freshly torn basil leaves
- 300g pasta (I used cavatappi, but penne or fusili would work just as well)
- Preheat your oven to 180˚C.
- Place feta, garlic cloves, chopped chilli and tomatoes in an ovenproof dish. Glug over the oil and season with black pepper.
- Bake for 30 minutes or until the tomatoes are gorgeously jammy. If your feta does not yet have a caramel hue, blast it under the grill for a couple of minutes.
- Get your pasta on the boil in some salted water and cook till al dente. (Reserve 125ml of the cooking liquid when straining.)
- Squeeze the garlic out of its skin. and smoosh a bit till it’s a paste. Break the feta up with a fork.
- Now combine the pasta, the whole baked tomato lot, the cooking liquid reserved from your pasta and torn fresh basil. Season to taste (wait till the end as the feta is almost salty enough) and enjoy!