I had this pasta for the first time at a wonderful Greek restaurant in Seattle. The owner told us how to make it, and I follow his instructions to the letter. It's totally unlike any other pasta I've ever had--the strands are coated with golden shards of mizithra cheese and garlic, giving the pasta a deep nutty flavor and an almost prickly texture. The secret here is the mizithra, an aged Greek cheese that doesn't melt when heated, and will brown and caramelize if you cook it in a hot pan. The whole dish comes together in minutes, and it actually tastes better at room temperature than it does warm. —ieatthepeach
4 as a side dish, 2 as an entree
spaghetti, linguine, or bucatini
extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling the pasta
Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil. Salt the water generously, then add pasta and cook until al dente. Drain the pasta, reserving about 1/2 cup of the cooking water (you may or may not need it). Toss the hot pasta with a drizzle of olive oil, and set aside.
Place a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat. When the pan is hot, add oil and wait just until it barely starts to smoke. Add garlic and cheese and cook, stirring constantly, until the cheese is deeply browned and crisp. Don't be afraid to really let the cheese brown; the more color it gets, the more flavorful the pasta will be.
Add the pasta and use tongs to toss until each strand is coated in the cheese mixture. If the cheese starts sticking to the bottom of the pan, add a splash of the cooking water and use your tongs to scrape up any stuck bits.
Remove the pasta from the heat and drizzle with olive oil. Serve just warm or at room temperature.