I still have never been to The Old Spaghetti Factory so I can’t vouch for the likeness, but Spaghetti with Browned Butter and Mizithra is another copycat (Creamy Pesto Salad Dressing is also featured at the restaurant). With only a few ingredients, it comes together quickly and makes a wonderful side dish (or small meal).
I definitely recommend taking the step to brown the butter. As the butter darkens, it takes on a nutty flavor and aroma, giving this dish an extra boost of flavor. This is actually the first time I have tried browning butter and now I am hooked. I recommend using a stainless steel pan so you can see the butter change colors as it cooks to avoid it becoming too dark. Watch how much salt you add to taste. I personally did not add any to the pasta due to the saltiness of the Mizithra cheese.
Mizithra is a Greek cheese widely used in Crete. It is traditionally unpasteurized and created from the milk and whey of sheep and goats. There are a few types of Mizithra. Fresh Mizithra is mild and similar in texture to ricotta. Xynomizithra is Mizithra rubbed with salt and aged. It has a sour flavor and strong aroma. Anthotyro xero (Anthotyros) is Mizithra that has been aged until it becomes hard with a crumbly texture. This type grates well and is what I used for Spaghetti with Browned Butter and Mizithra. Mizithra can be found in some import cheese sections of grocery stores or European specialty markets. I found it at my local specialty cheese shop. If you cannot find Mizithra you can substitute with grated Parmesan and Romano, but the flavor won’t be the same.
More information on Mizithra.
Spaghetti with Browned Butter and Mizithra
Adapted from Life’s Ambrosia
1 pound uncooked spaghetti
1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 cup grated Mizithra cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
Chopped fresh parsley for garnish
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook noodles until al dente, just tender. Drain and set aside.
In a small skillet or saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Stir often as brown flecks for at the bottom of the pan. Remove from heat once the butter becomes tan.
Toss the pasta with the browned butter and grated Mizithra. Season with salt and pepper.
Sprinkle with parsley and serve immediately.