In the latest food trend on TikTok, home chefs are adding a big block of feta cheese to a sheet pan and roasting it in their oven with tomatoes — and sometimes other vegetables — then mixing it all with pasta. The result is a creamy, cheesy, salty dish that users of the app are swooning over.
But the recipe isn't exactly new: Finnish food blogger Jenni Häyrinen created the dish in 2019, calling it "Uunifetapasta," the Finnish word for oven-baked feta pasta.
"Immediately after it was shown in my Instagram stories, I noticed followers' strong reaction to it," Häyrinen, who lives in Helsinki, told TODAY Food in an email. "I organized an #uunifetapasta live on my Instagram stories where I reposted followers' creations three days in a row night and day. Other influencers and newspapers picked it up, and in a couple of weeks everybody in Finland was cooking it!"
"The stores actually ran out of feta cheese here," said Häyrinen, whose original blog post about the dish has over three million views. "#Uunifetapasta was awarded as the phenomenon of the year in 2019 in Finland. I'm not surprised it's going viral elsewhere too, I know it has the potential to do so."
Now that Häyrinen's creation is circulating on TikTok, the baked feta pasta dish is seeing another round of viral acclaim. After hearing the story behind the dish's popularity, I decided to try making Uunifetapasta for my family for dinner.
The dish is incredibly simple: Add some olive oil to the bottom of a pan then place a block of feta in the center and surround it with tomatoes. Toss in some garlic, red chilies, salt and pepper and roast the whole thing on 400 F for 15 minutes. Next, turn the heat up to 440 F and roast until you get some golden-brown coloring on the cheese and tomatoes.
Häyrinen suggests finishing the roasting process with a few minutes under a broiler, writing in her blog post, "This might cause the fire alarm to go off, mine does that every time."
To keep things as authentic as possible, I roasted my feta and tomatoes until our smoke detector began to protest. Then it was time to mix up the pan and add some cooked pasta.
The result? Heavenly, salty, cheesy goodness. I've seen TikTokers add additional vegetables to the mix, but truly, Häyrinen's version was perfect in its simplicity.
But what does Häyrinen think of the changes to her recipe she's seen on the app?
"I love seeing different variations," she said. "The whole point of why I do this is to inspire others to cook and share ideas."
Seeing so many different takes on her dish inspired Häyrinen to create a different version with asparagus, which she says was also pretty popular among her Finnish followers.
"The original recipe was created because I needed a quick and easy lunch," Häyrinen shared. "I was getting hungry and started craving some oven baked feta. I decided to turn it into a meal, adding tomatoes to create a sauce and combining it with pasta. It's easy, super delicious and it doesn't hurt that it's vegetarian and Instagrammable when the feta comes out of the oven."