Is the TikTok Baked Feta Cheese Pasta Worth the Hype?
I’ll admit it, at 30 years of age TikTok is my guilty pleasure. I don’t actually have an account but anyone who downloads the app can view videos. At first, I used TikTok to wind down in the evening by watching hilarious videos that only take up fifteen to sixty seconds of my time each. Shortly after came the cute animal videos, and now the algorithm has caught onto my addiction to life hacks. Do you know how to clean those stubborn tomato sauce stains off of Tupperware? I do— thanks TikTok!
Recently I came across the newly famous TikTok baked feta cheese pasta and being unable to avoid the rave reviews that were shoved in my face every second video, I was convinced to try it for myself. The originator is a Finnish food blogger and artist named Jenni Häyrinen, who first posted the recipe on her Instagram account back in 2019. Häyrinen has seen her dish go viral on social media multiple times since then, most recently on TikTok. In 2020 Häyrinen launched National Uunifetapasta (baked feta pasta) Day in Finland, urging the entire population to try the recipe. According to Häyrinen’s blog feta cheese sales went up 300% in Finland, with shops running out of the baked feta pasta’s ingredients.
Could the baked feta pasta really be worth the hype? As a self-proclaimed pasta connoisseur, I put it to the test.
The Original Finnish Recipe
The below recipe has been taken directly from Jenni Häyrinen’s blog Liemessä where she posted it for Anglophone fans. One thing Häyrinen isn’t happy about is how one of the key ingredients that give the dish its “extra spark” has been left out of the recipe in most of the viral videos — the chili pepper!
1lb / 450g Italian durum wheat pasta
1 block (7oz / 200g) greek feta cheese
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 red chili pepper
500g cherry tomatoes
(4 garlic cloves if you wish)
Bunch of fresh basil leaves
- Pour some olive on the bottom of the baking dish. Place the whole feta block on top. Chop the red chili pepper and add on top of feta cheese. Pour more olive oil on top. Place the cherry tomatoes on the sides and roll around in the oil. Grind some pepper and season with a pinch of salt.
- Bake in 400 F / 200 C for 15 minutes in the middle rack. Turn the heat to 440 F / 225 C, move the dish to the upper rack and use the grilling mode for another 10 minutes. Caution! This might cause the fire alarm to go off, mine does that every time
- Cook the pasta al dente according to cooking instructions. If you used cherry tomatoes with stems, remove them. The stems are there merely for the instagrammable look, so plain cherry tomatoes will do fine.
- Break the feta a bit and mix with tomatoes. Mix the sauce with pasta and add plenty of basil leaves.
- Tip! Garlic goes well with baked feta pasta. To add garlic cut four garlic cloves in half lengthwise, toss them at the same time as the tomatoes, and roll in olive oil.
The recipe is very straightforward, requiring minimal ingredients so you can immediately see why it has gained so much popularity. I for one appreciate anyone who can entice me with quick and original vegetarian recipes that won’t take up half of my evening to make.
So does the baked feta pasta live up to the hype? Does it actually taste nice? My fiancé’s response is “it has a whole block of cheese in it — of course, it tastes nice”. His response is accurate. Yes, the dish is tasty but I wouldn’t rave about it quite as much as the standard TikToker is doing. I found it to be very salty given feta is already a salty cheese and I’d rather eat a small portion of it along with some protein and vegetables than devour a bowl of it on its own — it is predominantly pasta, feta cheese, and olive oil after all.
Rather than adding it to the best pasta recipes list, I think it is fairer to put it on the “pasta dishes that taste nicer than they deserve to for the zero effort it takes to make them” list. There is also very little cleaning required after which is a big thumbs up from me.
The recipe makes for a satisfying dinner with the added bonus of being able to take care of a load of laundry and feed the dog while it bakes. It would be difficult for even the most amateur chef to go wrong so if you’re looking for a new easy dish to try midweek then this is the one for you. Just don’t count on having it every day.