SPAGHETTI WITH ‘SITAKIA’ CHEESE
I have many recipes from different parts of Greece and this is one from my dear friend and fellow resident Panagiotis Moutsakis. A man who deeply loved this small island of Kasos and its inhabitants have embraced him too.
Initially I chose it because it's a food I love with simple ingredients; onions, spaghetti and this unique cheese, Sitaka.
Most do not know it and some confuse it with the Cretan ‘staka’ which has nothing to do with it. It is a soft creamy cheese with a light tart. It takes a long time to prepare. It is made from sheep's milk and after letting it sour in cauldrons, it is stirred continuously with a stick for 8-10 hours until all the liquid evaporates and only a creamy residue remains.
Another reason I chose this recipe is the island itself, which is just two hours by boat from on the east coast of Crete, and is a unique place untouched by mass tourism. It’s a rugged island but one that fascinates and deeply touches you. The people there are happy, kind and good-natured. They cook, play lyres and lutes and recite poetry. Two of my favorite locals are Nektarios and Eleni Stamatakis. Nektarios is a shepherd and one of the best lyricists on the island. Eleni is originally from Sitia but she gave up everything to follow her heart and live with Nektarios. They live there calm and loved. He plays her the lyre and writes her poetry and she listens and cooks. I don't know what this magic is with this island that makes you want to return again and again. I’m waiting with anticipation to see them again on my next trip!
“I asked God for beauty, and he smiled and showed me Kasos!”
500 g spaghetti (or penne)
3 white onions
2 tablespoons olive oil
Boil the spaghetti as written on the packaging instructions.
Put the sitaka (cheese) in a pan to warm it up and then add a little water from the pasta.
Finely chop the onion and put in a large frying pan along with the olive oil, stirring constantly to soften the onions. They need to get a light brown color, but not burn.
When the spaghetti is ready, transfer it with a slatted spoon to the pan with the sitaka and stir.
Finally add the onion. You can mix them all together or just leave the onion on top.