I’m nervous about TikTok. It makes me feel old … and also confused. Why whip coffee? Or use teeny tiny pancakes for cereal? Occasionally, a trending TikTok recipe builds up such a cult following, it reverberates across even the media platforms which this Millennial is capable of using.
Baked Feta Pasta became a ‘thing’ back in 2018 – when it actually started out as ‘uunifetapasta’ (Finnish for ‘oven-baked feta pasta’, as named by its creator, blogger Jenni Hayrinen). Momentum started to build and it became such a hit, national papers reported a global spike in feta sales. Now, #fetapasta has more than 600 million views on TikTok – and that’s not counting the spill over into Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. But what is it worth the hype?
In short: “yes”.
Lots of online food ‘hacks’ are pure gimmicks (‘omelette in a bag’ or the ‘tortilla wrap hack’ being two particularly aggravating ones which spring to mind). However, baking feta with tomatoes really is a sensible way of cooking both ingredients. The tomatoes become beautifully hot and sweet, while the salty feta melts into something of a sauce. The cooking times are almost exactly the same as it takes to cook pasta – again, very sensible.
Then, the crowning glory of the dish: the chilli. Hayrinen uses sliced red chilli, but thin slices of fresh chilli dries out when baked, and doesn’t diffuse a lovely chilli heat throughout the dish. Other iterations have used plain chilli flakes which are an improvement but, again, are often dry and can be quite bland.
In my mind there’s no doubt that it’s Aleppo Chilli Pepper’s time to shine. This Turkish chilli pepper has a beautiful oiliness which allows it to mix throughout the sauce, giving it a chilli kick. Nothing too strong, but a lovely fruity heat. What’s more—unlike fresh chilli – Aleppo pepper has a long shelf life and, if you’re canny enough to have a tin in your spice rack, that’s one less fresh ingredient to buy for this super quick, delicious and easy mid-week meal.