Grace’s hippie sister here, popping in with a quick, kid-friendly recipe.
Remember when you were little, and you hated spaghetti sauce, so you’d bug the crap out of your mom to get her to let you eat noodles with butter and Parmesan cheese instead? Yeah, our mom wouldn’t let us do that very often, either. Most of my adult life has revolved around doing crap Mom wouldn’t let me do when I was little.
The whole skip-the-sauce-and-go-straight-for-the-noodles thing gained an air of legitimacy about 10 years ago, when I had my first encounter with the Old Spaghetti Factory’s awesome spaghetti with browned butter and mizithra cheese, which — the menu assured us — was a great favorite of Homer (the blind poet from ancient Greece, not the fat guy from The Simpsons) while he was writing The Odyssey. As an English teacher, I considered this complete justification for eating as much of the stuff as I wanted.
I was pretty amped when the Old Spaghetti Factory decided to share its recipe for this awesomeness in the Riverfront Times’ annual cookbook. I was even more amped when I found out how ridiculously easy it was to make.
Start your pasta. I like capellini because it cooks fast and has a nice texture, but a fatter pasta will work just as well. While the pasta cooks, melt a stick of butter — realbutter, not margarine or “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Toxic Waste” or whatever else you’ve got — over low heat. Stirring constantly, bring the butter to a boil. It will froth and bubble and do all kinds of outrageous things. Just keep stirring until it settles down, takes on an amber color, and smells like heaven. At this point, remove it from the heat and pour it through a strainer to remove any scorched solids. (Have you ever eaten browned butter residue out of a strainer? If not, then, uh, I haven’t either.)
Drain your pasta, top with embarrassing amounts of grated cheese — the restaurant uses mizithra, a Greek cheese made from sheep’s milk that tastes better than anything else on the planet, but Parmesan will work just fine in a pinch — and drizzle with the browned butter. One stick of butter makes two servings. Unless you’re me, in which case, we’re going to need a bigger boat.