Big Little Recipes

Don't Put This Baked Feta on Pasta

May 18, 2021

A Big Little Recipe has the smallest-possible ingredient list and big everything else: flavor, creativity, wow factor. That means five ingredients or fewer—not including water, salt, black pepper, and certain fats (like oil and butter), since we're guessing you have those covered. Psst, did you hear we’re coming out with a cookbook? We’re coming out with a cookbook!

Though it’s one of the world’s oldest cheeses—“a primitive form is even mentioned in the Odyssey,” according to the European Commission—feta has never been trendier.

In 2019, food blogger and artist Jenni Häyrinen shared a recipe for baked feta pasta. Tiny tomatoes, chopped chiles, a lot of olive oil. Roast until the cheese relaxes from uptight to loosey-goosey, soft enough to hug spaghetti or rigatoni or whatever else your pantry has in store.

Fast-forward to this February, which marked what Häyrinen dubbed the “third wave” of the baked feta whirlwind, sparking adaptations everywhere from The New York Times to The Washington Post. And yes, we wrote about it, too.

Photo by Mark Weinberg. Prop Stylist: Ali Slagle Food Stylist: Sam Seneviratne

So perhaps you’re wondering why I’m showing up to the party late, months late, musing about baked feta in May. A couple reasons: First, because molten cheese never goes out of style. Second, and most importantly, because I was waiting for berry season.

Indeed, this is baked feta, but not The Baked Feta, not like that. There is no pasta. There are no tomatoes. Instead? An armload of plump strawberries.

Like tomatoes, these are red. Also like tomatoes, with enough time in the oven, their structure collapses and their flavor concentrates, going from great to greater to greatest. A little honey and olive oil, plus salt and pepper, are all you need to yield a sauce that’s halfway between sweet and savory, begging to be spooned atop salty, custardy cheese.

This blurriness between appetizer and dinner and dessert is the best part. That freedom to take the dish wherever you want to go.

My favorite destination is a crusty baguette, torn into hunks. But don’t stop there: Try Triscuits or Ritz. Or plop alongside a simple protein, from grilled chicken to fried pork chops to seared duck. Or put toward a peppery salad, say arugula or radicchio. Or what else, what else? You tell me.

How are you planning to use strawberries this season? Let us know in the comments.
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Emma was the food editor at Food52. She created the award-winning column, Big Little Recipes, and turned it into a cookbook in 2021. These days, she's a senior editor at Bon Appétit, leading digital cooking coverage. Say hello on Instagram at @emmalaperruque.