I first heard about this spectacularly easy viral pasta dish from Deb Perelman of Smitten Kitchen. I think I was the last to know… My daughter has seen countless people make it on TikTok, of course. 😉 She was absolutely thrilled to make it with me!
The original recipe is called “Uunifetapasta,” created by the Finnish blogger Jenni Häyrinen. The foundation of the dish is a block of feta placed in the center of a baking dish surrounded by seasoned tomatoes. After being baked, the cheese and burst tomatoes are combined to create a creamy and delicious sauce to serve over pasta. Deb Perelman incorporated chickpeas in her version- nice.
This version from the Washington Post, contributed by Aaron Hutcherson, recommended using Greek sheep’s milk feta to maximize the creaminess. I used an enameled cast iron baking pan, modified the proportions and incorporated za’atar to the seasoning on the tomatoes prior to baking. It was super creamy and tasty- and as simple and easy to prepare as expected.
Yield: Serves 6
- 3 pints (750 to 800 g) grape or cherry tomatoes
- 5 large garlic cloves, halved lengthwise
- 8 T (1/2 cup) extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 block (10.5 oz) Greek feta cheese
- 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
- za’atar, to taste, optional
- 17 to 18 oz medium-length dried pasta, such as campanile, rigatoni, or rotini (I used Gigli)
- fresh basil leaves, for serving
- Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 400 degrees, preferably on convection roast.
- In a 9-by-13-inch baking dish, combine the tomatoes, garlic and 6 tablespoons of the olive oil. (I used an enameled cast iron baking pan.)
- Sprinkle the tomatoes with some salt and toss to coat. Sprinkle with za’atar, if using.
- Place the feta cheese in the center of the tomatoes and garlic, top with the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil, and sprinkle the entire dish with red pepper flakes and a little black pepper.
- Bake for about 40 minutes, until the garlic has softened and the tomatoes have burst their skins.
- Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta according to package directions until al dente. Reserve 1 cup of the pasta water and then drain the pasta.
- Remove the baking dish from the oven and stir the feta and tomatoes with a wooden spoon until evenly combined. Taste and adjust seasoning, as necessary.
- Mix the sauce with pasta, adding the reserved pasta water as needed if it looks a little dry. (I incorporated quite a bit of pasta water.)
- To serve, top with plenty of basil leaves.