Zest for Food: Marie Cassady --Viral recipes that are worth a try

  • This baked feta pasta recipe was so popular, it caused a shortage of feta cheese. COURTESY PHOTO

  • Pesto eggs are one way to use some of the feta you’ve collected in your freezer. COURTESY PHOTO

Published: 4/18/2022 12:37:59 PM
Modified: 4/18/2022 12:36:41 PM

With all the apps, social media and bloggers out there, it’s easy to get buried with new recipes and cooking tips and hacks.

So my online file of recipes is huge, and I just keep adding them, knowing I will never use the vast majority. Some are just too crazy for me (Kool-Aid pickles), but every now and then a recipe goes viral and there is so much hype that I just must try it. So here are a few viral recipes that broke the internet.

Baked feta pasta

This recipe was so popular that it caused a countrywide shortage of feta cheese. This easy, tasty dish went viral for a reason. One of my favorite hacks is to keep a bag of peeled garlic cloves in the freezer.No need to thaw, just pull out what you need and you are ready to go.

2 pints grape tomatoes

½ cup extra virgin olive oil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

7 oz. block of feta cheese (crumbles will not work)

10 oz. dry pasta such as rotini or ziti

5 medium cloves of garlic, peeled and halved

8 oz. spinach, roughly chopped

¼ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes

¼ cup thinly sliced fresh basil

2 tbsp. minced fresh parsley

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Add the tomatoes and garlic to a three-quart baking dish. Toss with the oil and season with salt and pepper. Add the feta to the center of the dish and turn to coat with oil. Bake in the center of the preheated oven for 30 minutes, then remove the baking dish and raise the oven rack to upper third of the oven. Place dish on upper rack and increase heat to 450 degrees. Bake an additional 10 minutes or until tomatoes and cheese are starting to brown.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to package instructions. When done, save a half-cup of the pasta water, add the spinach to the pasta and submerge to wilt. Drain the pasta and spinach mixture. Smash the tomatoes, garlic and feta with the back of a wooden spoon and stir to combine. Add the pasta and herbs and toss to combine. Thin with reserved pasta water if needed. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste.

Pesto eggs

If you fill your freezer with pesto in the summertime like I do, you are always looking for new ways to use it. This is now one of my favorites. You can eat it as is or play with toppings. Use red pesto, mozzarella instead of ricotta, add sliced avocado, sprinkle with fresh grated parmesan or drizzle with a teaspoon of honey.

2 tbsp. pesto

2 eggs

2 slices of sourdough bread

1 tbsp. ricotta cheese

Pinch of red pepper flakes

In a nonstick frying pan over medium heat, add the pesto and cook a minute or so, until its warm and you can see the oil starting to separate. Add the eggs, cover the pan with a lid and cook for three minutes or until desired doneness. Meanwhile, toast the sourdough and spread with the ricotta. Add avocado if using. Place eggs on the toasts and season with salt, pepper and red pepper flakes to taste.

Flourless peanut butter chocolate chip cookies

Besides being an easy gluten-free treat, I love that it only makes a dozen cookies, so it is perfect for smaller households. Since you probably have the ingredients on hand, you can quickly make a batch when a sweet craving hits.

1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed

1 cup peanut butter, smooth or chunky

1 egg

1 tsp. baking soda

½ cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease two baking sheets, or line with parchment paper. In a medium bowl, stir together sugar, peanut butter, egg and baking soda until combined. Fold in chocolate chips.

Divide the dough into 12 balls on prepared baking sheets. Freeze or refrigerate for 10 minutes to keep the dough from spreading. Bake until golden brown, about 10 to 12 minutes. Cool on baking sheets for five minutes. Transfer to wire racks and let cool completely.

Ranch water

This lighter version of a margarita caused a shortage of Topo Chico. Although this Mexican mineral water is preferred, you can substitute any brand. It’s a super easy, light and refreshing cocktail.

3 oz. blanco tequila

1 ½ oz fresh lime juice

Topo Chico, chilled (preferably a bottle, not canned)

Fresh lime wedge for garnish

Fill a highball glass with ice. Add tequila and fresh lime juice. Top with Topo Chico. Garnish with a lime wedge. You can use any size glass, just adjust the ingredients to a ratio of two parts tequila, one part lime juice and mineral water to taste.

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