2 pints (20 ounces) cherry tomatoes
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
One 8-ounce block feta cheese, drained
10 ounces mezze rigatoni
1 garlic clove, finely grated
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced
Flaky sea salt, for servin
lg pinch of thyme
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Toss the cherry tomatoes and olive oil with 1/4 teaspoon of salt and several grinds of black pepper in a medium bowl until combined. Pour into a 2 1/2 to 3-quart baking dish. Place the feta in the center of the tomatoes, then season with a pinch of black pepper, lg pinch of thyme and bury garlic under tomatoes. Bake until the tomatoes have burst and the feta has softened, about 30 minutes. Increase the heat to 425 degrees F, then continue to cook until the tomatoes and feta are golden brown, 10 to 15 minutes more.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until al dente, about 13 minutes. Reserve 1/2 cup of cooking water, then drain well.
Right as the tomatoes and feta come out of the oven, stir in the garlic. Use the back of a spoon to smash the tomatoes and feta into a smooth and creamy sauce (it’s OK if some of the oil isn’t fully integrated and combined). Toss in the pasta and half of the basil until evenly coated. Add some pasta water, a couple tablespoons at a time, if the sauce becomes too thick. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper. Top with the remaining basil and a pinch of flaky sea salt for serving.
Note: since I used a dutch oven my tomatoes did not brown as they were not spread out. Added thyme too.