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The Basics Series is focused on recipes for kitchen staples that are explained in more detail and with simpler (and sometimes more pre-prepared) ingredients than many of the recipes I post. This means that sometimes they are versions of family classics, but sometimes are recipes I have found from all sorts of sources. Miss L in particular, isn’t generally keen on multi-tasking with pots or pans on the stove, but really likes tray bakes, so I’ve been doing more than usual amounts of browsing for new oven recipes.

I have to say though, a TikTok recipe is still a first for me – I can’t remember where I saw it, but it was mentioned as the latest TikTok viral sensation, so I was prepared to be amused, appalled, or both – but it is in fact a fantastic and very simple pasta recipe that has quickly become a favourite. And to be entirely accurate, it originates with a Finnish blogger, so I’ve credited her below.

As you can see from the pictures, it’s quite variable – you can use different types of tomato ( the green ones are homegrown), different herbs, different pasta (orecchiette pictured at bottom, fusilli just below), optional olives. The only thing I would say not to vary is the feta. We have tried with the firm Greek style, and it goes rubbery and doesn’t form a sauce. I haven’t tried yet, but I imagine you could also change with the seasons by substituting the tomatoes for cubes of zucchini or pumpkin, mushrooms, or even asparagus spears.

So for anyone who likes quick recipes without much chopping on a weeknight, or is trying to interest children in cooking, this is almost a perfect recipe – I think even a five year old could easily arrange the cherry tomatoes and feta and later smash them into a sauce, with you just handling the oven transfers and pasta cooking. What’s your favourite beginner cook recipe?

Cherry tomato and feta pasta

Adapted slightly from the Finnish original

  • 500g (2 punnets) cherry tomatoes
  • 200g Danish style (smooth) feta
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 3 Tbs olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano and/or chilli flakes (optional)
  • large handful fresh basil (optional)
  • 100g Kalamata olives (optional)
  • 400g pasta (either spaghetti or your preferred short pasta)

Rinse the tomatoes and tip into a large baking dish (big enough to hold the pasta later as well). Peel and halve the garlic cloves and add to the dish. Add 2 Tbs of the oil and shake to coat. Put the block of feta in the middle, top with the oregano/chilli if using, and drizzle with the remaining Tbs of oil.

Heat oven to 200C (with fan), and bake for 20 min on the middle shelf. Check dish and give the tomatoes a shake. If they are starting to soften and collapse/split a bit, switch oven to grill setting and cook for another 10 minutes until browning, and even starting to blacken in places. (If not, cook for another five minutes before grilling)

While the tomatoes are browning, cook pasta in a large pot of salted water. When done, scoop out a cup of the water before draining. Take the dish out of the oven, and break up the feta and crush the tomatoes and garlic. Add half the water, using it to stir the pan contents into a rough sauce, adding more water if needed. Add basil and/or olives if using. Add pasta, and toss through, adding some of remaining water if needed.

Serves 4