My son and I were grocery shopping last weekend. We both love to try new foods. At the cheese counter they had some aged mizithra cheese on sale. We’d never heard of it. The employee said it was a Greek cheese. An eight ounce container was only $0.99 so I bought two and figured we would give it a try. I looked for recipes and most were about eating it with pasta and browned butter and not much else. Really! That’s all you got. Oh, I don’t think so.
I decided to experiment a bit (nothing new there). Let me say upfront that I did not fully “brown” the butter. But what if you add some other flavors to the butter?? How about garlic, oregano, lemon, and a good fruity olive oil? I like my pasta to be a meal, so I also added some grilled chicken and peas. I used the mizithra and a little bit of aged parmesan. My husband kept coming in the kitchen asking what smelled so good. My 14 year old son ate two big platefuls and informed me I must make this again and soon. I think the experiment was a success!
1/2 cup (one stick) unsalted butter
4 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
1/2 tsp dry oregano
2 tbs fresh lemon juice
1 package of pasta, your favorite, cooked al dente
2 cups grilled chicken chunks (see my recipe on how to keep some on hand for meals like this)
1 pkg frozen green peas or other vegetable of your choosing
1/2 cup good olive oil
1 cup aged mizithra cheese, grated
1/2 cup aged parmesan, grated
salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
Put a large pot of water onto boil for the pasta, salt water if desired. Cook pasta according to package directions, when the pasta has one minute left to cook, add the peas. Drain pasta and peas. Return to pot.
While your waiting for the water to boil….
In a cast iron skillet or similar vessel, over medium heat melt stick of butter and add garlic. Slowly saute garlic while butter foams and begins to clarify (I’m sure I’m breaking some cardinal culinary rule by doing it this way…oh well). This process should take close to ten minutes, if it is going faster than that…turn down the heat! The idea is to infuse the garlic flavor into the butter without burning the garlic. Once the garlic begins to brown, turn off the heat. Using a small heatproof bowl, pour the garlic butter through a wire sieve into the bowl, this will remove the garlic pieces but leave the garlic flavor in the butter. Return butter to pan and continue to heat until butter begins to color, stir regularly. Once it starts turning light brown, go ahead and turn off the heat and let stand. (By now your water should be boiling and you have added your pasta.) Heat up your grilled chicken in the microwave until hot. Add chicken to cooked, drained pasta. Pour your garlic butter over this (ovoid adding the particulates at the bottom of the pan) and stir. Add the olive oil, lemon juice, and oregano and stir again. Now add first the mizithra and then the parmasan, stirring after each addition. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve with additional cheese on top if desired. Enjoy!