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THAT Baked Feta & Tomato Pasta recipe...

For a period of time over February this year, it was impossible to get hold of feta cheese. Did you notice? I certainly did. I had seen a recipe online for baked feta pasta and wanted to give it a go. Turns out, so did the rest of London. The supermarket shelves had been stripped of blocks of feta cheese and the culprit was a viral recipe circulating on TikTok. It's funny how every now and then something captures the imagination - decadent Goose Fat for Nigella's domestic goddess-worthy roast potatoes, the novel use of liquid glucose for Delia's Chocolate Truffle Torte that cleared out Britain's chemists of glucose syrup, and now, the humble block of feta.

There's no smoke without fire, and there are a few reasons for the recipe's success. Creamy, salty, tangy and moreish, it is the perfect zero effort comfort food. It's so simple and pleasing to make it barely needs a recipe: cherry tomatoes are tumbled into a baking dish with a generous glug of olive oil, salt, pepper and sliced garlic. Then a whole block of feta is nestled in the middle, anointed with yet more olive oil and the whole thing is baked in the oven. 30 minutes later you have the simple, visceral pleasure of mashing the soft, creamy feta into the juicy roasted tomatoes. Aside from tasting delicious, this is surely the second reason for its success. It's up there with the exquisite moment of the first spoon into a fresh Nutella jar, or breaking into the gooey centre of a chocolate fondant or a perfectly poached egg on toast.

Freshly cooked pasta is added, a generous sprinkle of freshly torn basil and you have the most satisfyingly delicious dinner, shamelessly simple to prepare and yielding a gratifying moment of such squishy, sensorial pleasure, that there should really be a word for it.

And to drink? The acidity of the feta and tomatoes calls for a bright, fresh high acid, unoaked white: a dry citrusy Alsace Riesling, or any of the crisp summery whites in my 7 Days of Summer Case would be excellent matches.

Baked Feta & Tomato Pasta

500-600g Cherry tomatoes (i.e. 2 packs)

200g Block of Feta

Pasta, eg. Penne or Farfalle etc

Fresh Basil

Garlic to taste

Chilli flakes to taste

Dried herbs e.g. Oregano / Thyme to taste

Salt / Pepper

Olive Oil

  • Heat oven to 190 degrees.

  • Place the cherry tomatoes in a baking dish and coat with a generous glug of olive oil, add sliced garlic, dried herbs and chilli flakes to taste and season with salt and pepper, bearing in mind feta is already hella salty.

  • Nestle the block of feta in the middle and drizzle with a little more olive oil a touch more pepper, herbs/chilli flakes to taste.

  • Bake for 30 mins or until the tomatoes look nicely roasted and split, but not dried out, and the feta looks blistered and oozy.

  • With roughly 10 minutes to go, cook your penne pasta and drain, retaining a little bit of pasta cooking water.

  • With a fork, mash the tomatoes and soft feta together, then stir in your freshly cooked pasta. Add a little pasta water to loosen it up if it looks too claggy, which will depend how juicy your tomatoes are.

  • Add freshly torn basil and serve.

Here is the original viral post on Liemessa with suitably mouthwatering imagery:

Image: Liemessa


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