How Beans Can Take Your Baked Feta Pasta To The Next Level

If you spent any time online in the early months of 2021, you likely encountered one of the year's most viral, iconic dishes: The baked feta pasta. Over a year later, the simple, adaptable, and delicious dish is still wildly popular — but that doesn't mean it's not due for an upgrade.

According to The New York Times, the recipe first gained popularity in 2018, in Finland, after food blogger Jenni Häyrinen shared her recipe for uunifetapasta, which translates to "oven-baked feta pasta." Though Häyrinen popularized the dish, its origins trace back to another Finnish food blogger, Tiiu Piret, whose earlier recipe for Prosecco spaghetti and oven tomatoes used a similar technique. Per HuffPost, chef and cookbook author Mackenzie Smith is responsible for showing the dish to a U.S. audience. From there, it blew up on TikTok, sparking countless variations from home cooks and chefs alike.

Adding beans to baked feta pasta

Per The New York Times, the TikTok-famous baked pasta dish consists of a block of feta nestled in a bed of cherry tomatoes, garlic, and olive oil, plus any additional herbs or seasonings one might desire. Once baked and mixed with pasta, the confit tomatoes and creamy feta form a luscious sauce. Since its rise to stardom, the recipe has sparked countless adaptations, featuring additions like mushrooms, spinach, shrimp, or olives. However, there is one highly affordable, accessible ingredient that can effortlessly improve your final dish: beans.

According to MyRecipes, beans are a fantastic addition to baked feta pasta for a couple of reasons. The beans will drastically increase the dish's protein content, making it more satisfying and filling (but still vegetarian-friendly). They'll also provide a creamy texture and earthy taste, which contrasts with the tangy feta and sweet tomatoes. That being said, not all bean varieties will do the trick: MyRecipes specifically recommends using either white beans (like cannellini, navy, or great northern beans) or chickpeas to add a tasty crunch to your next feta pasta dish.