Spaghetti with olive oil and mizithra

Spaghetti with Olive oil and Greek mizithra (cheese)

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This is a weird recipe, but it’s one which is perfect to have available when you 1) haven’t done your groceries and so have nothing else to cook, 2) have about 10 minutes to throw dinner on the table, 3) have a houseful of hungry kids to feed, 4) are alone and just need something delicious to fill your belly so you can get on with your day or, 5) would rather be knitting.

Growing up this was a favourite dish.  Actually, every spaghetti dish was welcomed with much enthusiasm.  Part of the reason was because in order to test the pasta for doneness, our mother wouldn’t throw it against the wall to see if it would stick (how barbaric). Instead, she would take a little plate, pluck 2 – 3 spaghettis from the boiling water and mix them with a generous sprinkling of mizithra.

Spaghetti with Olive oil and Greek mizithra (cheese)

She would then get us to taste them, and WE would be the ones to decide if the spaghetti was done or not.  As soon as we said they were cooked enough, the pot was turned off and the pasta drained.  She still does this, sometimes with our daughters, but sometimes with us, and each time she does we are transported back to our childhood.  Looking back now, this small act spoke volumes.  It represented such caring, such love, such a clear message that we mattered, and that our opinion was valuable. She was cooking primarily for us, her children.  That, or she didn’t want pasta water dripping down her walls.

 

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Spaghetti with Olive oil and Greek mizithra (cheese)

Helpful hints

In other recipes we have suggested that if you cannot find mizithra you can substitute grated parmesan or romano cheese.  Unfortunately, that really isn’t the case here.  Given that there are so few ingredients, keeping to the ones actually called for is pretty important.  The good news is that you can find mizithra in most Greek or Mediterranean grocery stores, and you can order it on-line.  Once grated, it will keep fresh in the freezer for a very long time. You can also freeze it whole of course.

The two other star ingredients are the pasta and olive oil.  Although not essential, we use Greek spaghetti.  As for the olive oil, use the best quality Greek olive oil you can find.  Try your best to order or purchase it directly from an olive oil producer or certified distributor.  You will have a better chance of getting pure olive oil and not one of the impostor, adulterated oils which have been uncovered in recent years.

This meal, although delicious, does not contain any vegetables.  If you are concerned about ensuring that all major food groups are represented at each meal, you are a better parent than us.  So, we suggest that you set out a plate of olives (remember they are drupes, and drupes are fruit!), carrots or a simple salad.

Ugh…we can’t in good conscience go on without confessing. We lied.  You of course CAN substitute the mizithra for either grated parmesan or romano cheese if you prefer.  You can even try a different type of pasta, like a penne or linguine.  You could even go so far as to use an Italian olive oil (gasp!).  If you do any of those things however, it won’t be our parents’ recipe.  But it will be your recipe…and it will probably be delicious.

Spaghetti with Olive oil and Greek mizithra (cheese)

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Mia Kouppa: Spaghetti with olive oil and mizithra

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients

  • Spaghetti, 500 grams
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 4 heaping tablespoons mizithra cheese
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Directions

  • Add salt to a large pot of water and bring to a boil. Once water is boiling, add your spaghetti. We have been taught to break the spaghetti in half prior to cooking it, but of course you don’t have to. Reduce heat to a low boil and cook the pasta as directed on the packaging, but truly, it is ready when you (or your child) says that it is.
  • Drain your pasta and once fully drained, return it to the pot it boiled in.
  • Take a few strands of pasta and dry them completely by rolling them with a paper towel. Set aside.
  • Heat olive oil in a small saucepan over medium high heat. Heat the oil for approximately 2 – 3 minutes. Drop a strand of dried spaghetti into the oil. When the spaghetti starts to sizzle vigorously, your oil is hot enough.
  • Carefully pour the oil over the cooked spaghetti and mix well to coat all of the pasta. Add the mizithra and mix well. Serve with additional mizithra for people to add as they like.
  • Enjoy.

20 thoughts on “Spaghetti with olive oil and mizithra

  1. I cannot seem to find Mzithra anywhere in London (UK). I’ve checked in a few Cypriot owned Green Grocers and they don’t even know what Mzithra is! If anyone knows or where I can order online, I would be so appreciative thanks !

    1. Hi Phyllis! Thanks for your comment. We really want you to find mizithra so we did a quick search to see where you might be able to order it from. It seems that there are a few ways to get mizithra, including through Amazon and a company called Ideal Cheese. We can’t vouch for the quality or company, but a quick review of customer feedback seems positive. The important thing would be to ensure that you are ordering hard mizithra; there is a cretan cheese called mizithra which is soft (not to be grated) and which resembles ricotta. It is delicious, but not what we would use in this recipe. Hope that helps!

  2. I checked both Amazon and Ideal Cheese, but neither are available in the UK unfortunately (Amazon UK did not have Mzithra listed )

    1. 🙁 That’s disappointing! Give it a try with equal parts grated romano and parmesan in place of the mizithra. It won’t be the same…but it will still be delicious 😉

  3. My father made our Mizithra. He used milk, then mixed it with something (maybe lemon juice or vinegar) to separate it. He then put the separated thicker milk in a cheesecloth to drain the liquid. After the liquid was drained, it became a softball sized ball. He salted the outside of the “ball” to draw out even more liquid. It took a couple of days. It looked easy, but I cannot remember the complete recipe / process.

    Does anyone know how to make Mizithra?

    1. Hi Tina, that sounds amazing! And in fact, we think we remember our parents doing something similar when we were younger. We’re going to ask them, and if indeed they used to (and still remember how) to make mizithra, we will share their technique. Have a great day!

  4. the directions are not correct. you serve the pasta you sprinkle the cheese (far more than 3 tbs for a pound) and pour the hot oil over the pasta and cheese. The idea is that the hot oil (which actually should be Fitini, since it can be heated more than oil) will melt and almost slightly burn the cheese. The almost burned cheese gives a characteristic taste to the pasta.

    1. Thank you George for your comment. We would not say that the directions are incorrect, just different than how you prepare this dish (which also sounds lovely). As for the Nea Fytini, we also have a post using that product instead of olive oil. You can find it on our Recipe List. 🙂

  5. Not weird at all. My mom made it and I loved it. I finally found that the Spaghetti warehouse restaurant actually serves this dish and I ordered it and really loved it. Brought back some nice memories.

    1. Hi Gregory! So glad to bring back happy memories with this dish. We hear that there is a restaurant called Spaghetti Factory that serves it (or something similar); I guess they too realize how great it is, just like all of our parents did 🙂 Thanks for stopping by! Helen & Billie

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