This past week I headed to Whole Foods and asked the cheese guy if they carried Xynomyzithra Cheese? He looked back at me and said, “xyno wha?”
I repeated myself and let him know it was a creamy, Greek cheese from the island of Crete.
He then responded, “Honey, the only Greek cheese I have is Feta and Kasseri.”
And then I thought, if Whole Foods doesn't carry Xynomyzithra Cheese, I’d have to go to a Greek bakery or a specialty Cheese store to find it.
Well, as you all know it, that didn't happen. Instead I improvised Xynomyzithra Cheese with full-fat Fage Greek Yogurt which is lower in fat and high in protein. I can assure you this pasta dish won’t taste “weird” or “tart” with the addition of yogurt, in fact it tastes creamy and delicious.
My inspiration for this dish comes to you from the island of Paros, the Greek Spaghetti I devoured at the Saint Andrea Seaside Resort.
The Parian version of this dish was drenched in tomato sauce and made with kalamata olives, capers, onions, red & green peppers, and Xynomyzithra cheese.
My version turned out really good, but I’m warning you, if you aren’t a fan of olives, use very few or omit them all together. Enjoy!
NUTRITION: Greek Yogurt is an excellent source of Protein and Calcium. Whole Grain pasta and Crushed Tomatoes are a good source of Fiber and Protein, additionally tomatoes are a good source of Vitamins A and C. Bell Peppers are a great source of Vitamins A, B6, and C. Capers are a good source of Fiber. Olives are a good source of Fiber, Iron, and Vitamin E which promotes healthy skin.
- Pot of Water
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil – 2 tbsp
- Crushed Red Pepper Flakes – 1.5 tsp (use less if you can’t handle heat)
- Garlic – 2 cloves (chopped)
- Onion – 1 medium (sliced)
- Red Bell Pepper – 1 half (sliced in 1 inch pieces)
- Green Bell Pepper – 1 half (sliced in 1 inch pieces)
- Crushed Tomatoes w/basil – 1 (28 ounce) can
- Dried Oregano – 1 tsp
- Capers – 2 tbsp
- Kalamata Olives – 12 olives
- Fage Total Classic Greek Yogurt full-fat – 1 (7 ounce) tub (mascarpone will work really well too)
- Barilla Whole Grain Spaghetti – 1 pound box
- Black Pepper – 1/2 tsp
- Salt – to taste
- Feta Cheese – for garnish… I prefer mild Feta
1. Start by heating up a pot of water for the pasta.
2. Chop the garlic and thinly slice the onion.
3. Heat up a pan on medium heat, once hot, add the extra virgin olive oil and crushed red pepper.
4. Once it begins to sizzle throw in the garlic and onion. Season with salt. Stir and let it saute for about 3 minutes or until the onions are translucent.
5. In the meantime, slice half of a red & green bell pepper.
6. Back to the onions, this is what you should have.
7. Add the bell pepper and season with salt. Stir. Allow the ingredients to cook for about 4-5 minutes.
8. Once done, add a can of crushed tomatoes.
9. Season with a little salt, 1/2 tsp of black pepper, and 1 1/2 tsp of oregano crushed in the palm of your hand. Stir.
10. Add the capers and olives.
NOTE: these ingredients are already high in sodium, so don’t go overboard with salt.
11. Add a tub of Fage Greek Yogurt.
12. Swirl until everything is mixed thru.
13. This is what you should have.
14. Cover with a lid and let it simmer for about 10 minutes on low heat. The heat will extract the flavor of the olives.
15. Season the boiling hot water with salt. Add the spaghetti. Cook until al dente – about 7 to 8 minutes.
16. After 10 minutes, this is what your sauce should look like. Taste and season with more salt, black pepper, or oregano as need be.
17. Add the spaghetti to the sauce. RESERVE A CUP OF STARCHY PASTA WATER!!!
18. Toss all the ingredients. Add about 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup of starchy pasta water to help thin out the sauce, this will also help bind the pasta to the sauce.
19. Top with some feta cheese. A bowl of Greek Goodness!
TELL ME: Have you tried Xynomyzithra cheese? Have you ever made Greek Pasta? If so, what do you add to your Greek pasta?