Mizithra Cheese Pasta Recipe with Garlic Infused Olive Oil
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Mizithra Cheese and Pasta with Olive Oil & Garlic
The first time I had Mizithra (mee-ZEERH-ruh) Cheese was at the Olde Spaghetti Factory restaurant. It was served saturated and running with sweet butter, plenty of shredded Mizithra cheese on top and garlic bread. It was great, if not exactly heart healthy! We loved this dish and I decided to come up with a healthier version. After all, pasta is good for you! However, I do highly recommend this dish at Olde Spaghetti Factory ‘once in a while.’
Below is a healthier but still tasty version. And here is just a bit about this dish.
Mizithra Cheese is a Greek cheese traditionally made from unpasteurized goat’s milk. However, even the Greeks make an imitation of Mizithra from cow’s milk.
Mizithra is made from the whey of Feta and Kefalortiri cheese. The aged cheese is drier, pungent, and most excellent as a stand alone pasta topping. The fresh Mizithra Cheese is milder and softer. The fresh Mizithra is much like cheese curds or string cheese.
You may also use it in salads and as an ingredient for salad dressings. It makes great Greek lasagna too! The soft un-aged Mizithra is used much like a ricotta in many recipes.
Cheese is considered ‘food of the gods’ in Greece.
When I was young our neighbors were Greeks. So, I grew up dining regularly on Greek specialties. The Greek Mom was embarrassed to practice her English in front of adults but had no problem learning from a 6 year old girl. That was me!
Here are some of my favorite foods from Mrs. Spoonias’ kitchen. I have no idea if this is how you spelled their name, I was only six, you know!
~ A farina cake made with 13 egg whites! This cake is extremely moist and rich. No need for icing here!
~ Almonds coated in sugar (for a wedding) You could nab a couple of these after she made them and left them to dry on her dining room table. Why is stolen candy best?
~ Fried smelts (I wonder if I would have tried these unattractive little fishes later in life?) These are still a big favorite of mine.
~ Noodles, these she made in huge batches. Her dining room table, kitchen table, and beds (covered with clean sheets) would be filled with noodles that were drying. These noodles doubled and tripled when boiled. A small handful could feed an army or a large family.
~ Greek lasagna
~ Spanakopita, a Greek spinach pie that Mrs. Spoonias made using fresh Dandelion leaves. I use to go out in the yard and help her harvest these.
My Mom, a Midwestern lady, often complained that I came home smelling like (in her words) ‘a garlic factory.’
One thing that will aid in making most foods turn towards Greek flavors is a seasoning that we found at Konrico® when we toured the rice milling factory in New Iberia, LA. The main ingredients are salt, garlic, black pepper, corn starch, oregano, sage and ‘other spices.” It does not contain MSG. Just adding the Konrico® spice and a squeeze of fresh lemon to canned chicken and rice soup approximates a nice Avgolemono Soup.
Greek foods are wonderful!
Do try this easy and healthy recipe of Mizithra Cheese Pasta Dish. Note that heart healthy olive oil is used rather than the pound of butter. I also used whole wheat pasta. The rotini shape of the pasta also provides multiple surfaces for the oil and cheese to cling to; therefore you don’t need as much oil and cheese to achieve maximum taste.
Serve the Mizithra cheese on the top of each dish. Don’t try to put the cheese on the dish and mix before serving as the cheese is likely to gum and ball-up. Do add some parmesan cheese on the table as a contrasting flavor. We like some fresh ground pepper on the dish too.
Here is the salad recipe link. http://nmlady.hubpages.com/hub/Tomatoes-from-the-Store-Go-Tasty
The slight acidic lightness of the tomatoes and the richness of the pasta make a very complementary meal. Dining and life are both about balance.
This is a very satisfying dish and one that my husband really likes.
- 4 C. Rotini Pasta, boiled per instructions (see below)
- 1/4 C. Olive Oil
- 3 cloves Garlic, Minced
- 1 1/2 C Mizithra Cheese, grated
- 1/4 t. Pepper, adjust per taste
- 1/4 C. Parmesan Cheese, grated and served at table
- Gently sauté the minced garlic in the olive oil on the stove, making sure the garlic does not burn. If the garlic burns throw this out and start again. A bit of brown is okay just not burned! It takes about five minutes to infuse the garlic flavor into the olive oil, so start this first. Grate the Mizithra Cheese. For easier grating place the cheese in the freezer a couple of hours before you grate it. Tip: You may also add some butter to this recipe. Boil the pasta in water per the instructions. I prefer to add a pinch of salt and a drizzle of olive oil in my pasta water as I think it adds a flavor layer to the pasta. Drain the pasta and immediately mix the garlic infused olive oil and toss.
- Serving Instructions: Toss the drained pasta with the garlic infused olive oil. Place the garlic olive oil coated pasta in individual pasta serving dishes and top with the Mizithra Cheese. Grind on some pepper and (at your choice) sprinkle a bit of parmesan cheese on top. The parmesan is an excellent accompaniment.
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