Veganizing Viral TikTok "Feta" Pasta | Healthy & Oil Free
Oops, we did it again. We tried another TikTok viral video trend, that is. You remember our first viral TikTok experience when we did the highly popular tortilla hack with our own homemade red lentil flatbread tortillas. This time it was the food hack taking over the world: Baked “Feta” Pasta. Inherently not vegan, we sought to not only veganize this viral trend in our own healthy way, but to add an exciting twist to it. Usually, our exciting twist is being able to make it in the Instant Pot or pressure cooker, and this time was no exception. We did the same thing for our New Year’s Hoppin John video with great success.
What we love about this recipe is it requires zero chopping, you can set it and forget it, and it is deliciously flavorful and fast. While it may be a little more calorie dense than some of our other recipes because of the tofu, it is a far cry from the other viral videos we’ve seen using feta cheese and olive oil. Our version of this recipe is truly healthy and perhaps easier and faster than the originals. It is even gluten-free if you use red lentil pasta like we did. We especially love using the lentil pasta in the pressure cooker because it holds its shape and stays more al dente during the cooking process.
If you haven’t been on TikTok to see this viral trend, I will explain it and save you from the addictive nature of this forsaken app. It consists of taking a baking dish, pasta, cherry tomatoes, and a block of poisonous feta cheese and baking it until the cheese melts and everything gets mixed together. Really the only magic performed here is the melting of the cheese which we don’t need to figure out anyway, since our dish is going to be plant-based and totally dairy free. So we figured the whole baking process needn’t occur and we could just use our beloved iPot.
There are so many foods I didn’t care for in my pre-vegan, or pregan days, mushrooms being one of them. I now LOVE mushrooms and regret not adding them to this dish. While my taste buds changed in a way to accommodate even more delicious plant foods, the one food I still can’t get behind is raw tomatoes. I loathe raw tomatoes in any variety. I’ll pick sliced tomatoes off of a sandwich, I’ll eat around cherry tomatoes in a salad, and even Dillon’s beloved pico doesn’t get a pass from me.
However, I continued to be baffled by the fact that as much as I loathe an uncooked tomato, a cooked tomato on the other hand is ONE OF MY FAVORITE FOODS. I absolutely love these sweet bursts of lycopene that a sauteed, baked, or steamed cherry tomato can bring. In one of our earliest, and perhaps first YouTube videos together, I had Dillon make me my favorite meal which was really just my own personal picks for a nourish bowl. It had wild rice, those aforementioned mushrooms, steamed spinach, and my beloved COOKED not RAW cherry tomatoes. I cannot get enough of them, and that’s why I was super excited to try this recipe.
I wish I could say that figuring out this recipe was a slam dunk on the first shot, but it sure wasn’t. On our first try we ended up getting the burn warning on our iPot during filming and had to scrap all of our footage and start anew. The problem was, we figured since the pasta needed water to cook, and our vegan cheese replacement, tofu, needed to be blended, that we would just blend the water with the tofu and pour that in and cook. Right? Wrong. It proved to be a flop the first couple of times we tried it.
To avoid the burn warning, we attempted a different method. This time we were going to pour the water at the bottom of the Instant Pot instead of in with the “cheese” mixture, put in the pasta and cherry tomatoes, and then plop our now more dense “cheese” mixture on top.. Closer to how they do it in the original video. That worked! It cooked the pasta in the bottom, heated the cherry tomatoes, and brought the cheesy mixture up to temperature in 4 minutes. Once the 4 minutes were up, we manual-released the pressure, and all that was left to do was give it a hearty mix and then serve. We decided to add in an entire bag of spinach to the pressure cooker upon opening it and stirred it in. It wilted down and went perfectly with this dish! We definitely want to try using basil too, as that would be perfect in this Italian inspired TikTok trend.
TikTok Italian Baked Pasta
You’ll love the fast and healthy version of this viral trend!
- 1 (8oz) box penne pasta (GF red lentil pasta recommended!)
- 2 pints cherry tomatoes
- 2.5 cups water
- 2 teaspoons onion powder
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
- 1 block firm tofu + ½ cup water
- ¼ cup Nooch
- 1 bag fresh spinach
Pour the pasta, cherry tomatoes, and water into the bottom of your pressure cooker.
To create the “feta cheese,” add the onion powder, garlic, apple cider vinegar, Italian seasoning, tofu + water, and Nooch to a high-speed blender and blend until smooth.
Pour the cheesy tofu mixture lovingly and carefully on top of the rest of the ingredients inside the pressure cooker and DO NOT STIR it! Set it to 4 minutes of high pressure, and manually release it.
Finally, add the bag of fresh spinach to the pot and mix well until wilted. Serve!