Ok, ok, I know I’m not much for following food trends, nor watching much from TikTok (though there’s been some awesomely fun stuff on there lately!), but this particular recipe just caught my attention. It seems that everyone and their Mums are recreating this recipe on YouTube right now, from Brit sensations SORTEDFood and Barry Lewis to a multitude of relatively anonymous YouTubers that were as inspired as I am right now (as a relatively anonymous food blog writer).
I think that this recipe has caught on so well because of its kind of *lack* of a recipe; hear me out. This dish (which happens to be vegetarian) takes a bunch of fresh ingredients that colourfully contrast beautifully in a baking dish, and then the oven does most of the work for you. Your next and final step is to mix it with some cooked pasta, and you have a completely different-looking, yet super-fancy pasta dish that looks like you worked on it all day, yet its prep time is less than 10 minutes.
The best thing about this dish is its propensity for substitution…and you know how substituting ingredients in recipes gets my creative heart racing. Never be a recipe zombie; emancipate yourself from strictly following “the rules” and break out of your creative rut!
Ahem…I’m back now.
According the the non-recipe, the minimum ingredients you need are baby tomatoes like cherry or grape tomatoes or those baby tomatoes on the vine (so cute!), some olive oil, salt and pepper, a block of feta and pasta of your choice. But this is where you can add and substitute to your heart’s content: add any herbs, spices and seasonings you fancy, such as garlic, fresh herbs, crushed red pepper flakes, or lemon zest. As for veggies, try including marinated artichokes, capers, olives, sliced peppers, shallots, red onions, broccoli, even peas; if it sounds yummy to you and you have some handy, toss it in! And there’s no reason you can’t make this a more carnivorously protein-packed meal as well; anchovies, boneless skinless chicken or pork chunks, even seafood like shrimp or crab would be the.bomb.dot.com. Just remember if your protein is not pre-cooked to adjust the baking time upwards and the temperature downwards to accommodate.
I’ve written out the “un-recipe” I ended up making below; you are welcome and encouraged to decide what you want to add or subtract from there. The ingredient quantities can vary based on the size of your baking dish, or the baking dish size can vary based on the quantity of ingredients you add. Regardless, I would recommend a properly-sized ceramic casserole dish for this one – see my previous post about choosing the right baking dish for your recipe here, so just use your best judgment…especially if you’re adding more toys to the pool, if you get my drift.
Makes a kick-ass pasta salad, too!
Baked Feta Pasta
YIELD: 6-? servings | PREP: 5-10 mins | BAKE: 25-35 mins
- Baby tomatoes
- Olive oil
- Fresh garlic, whole, crushed or Microplaned (I used 4 whole garlic cloves)
- Thinly sliced fresh vegetables of your choice (optional)
- Salt and pepper
- Sprinkle dried oregano
- Sprinkle dried thyme
- Sprinkle lemon pepper (optional)
- 1 block/round feta cheese
- Cooked pasta
- Preheat oven to 400°F/300°C. Ensure rack is in middle of oven.
- Add the tomatoes, garlic, and any other vegetables you are using to a baking dish of your choice.
- Drizzle all with a light coating of olive oil, then sprinkle herbs, seasonings, salt and pepper evenly overtop. Mix together thoroughly.
- Scoop an opening in the centre of the baking dish large enough to fit your cheese block, and place the feta in the center of the dish, with the veggies surrounding it. Drizzle a final bit of olive oil on the feta.
- Place baking dish on a sheet pan and bake on the middle rack for 25-35 minutes, until the tomatoes are roasted and the feta is soft, looking a bit melted along the edges, and starting to brown. it’s OK to leave it in a little longer if it’s taking a while to get to that point.
- Meanwhile, 10 minutes before your feta should be done, boil a large pot of salted water and cook a suitable amount of pasta of your choice according to package directions. The amount will depend on how much extra you have added to your baking dish. Drain pasta and keep warm, drizzling a small amount of olive oil overtop and mixing through to prevent sticking.
- Remove dish from the oven. Break up the cheese gently with a large spoon and stir everything together to create a sauce.
- Add the cooked, drained pasta and mix until evenly coated. Serve hot.