Fava is a legume that is not made from fava beans as the name may suggest, but from yellow split peas. Due to its fertile dry volcanic soil, the best is produced on the island of Santorini (Greece) and it is a legume that grows without water (hence the “anydro” appellation). Fava beans and seeds where discovered in the excavation of the ancient settlement of Akrotiri, which proves that the cultivation of fava on the island dates back more than 3500 years.
Fava dip is a regular staple on the Greek taverna menu and it is not only tasty, but also an excellent source of protein, cholesterol lowering fibre, contains vitamins and minerals with virtually no fat. An excellent example of how healthy the Mediterranean Diet is.
Even if you are far away from Santorini, and you cannot find this local Fava (which is a Protected Designation of Origin (PDH) product), I am sure you can find yellow split peas to make this delicious “hors d’ oeuvre”.
Hands on: 5 minutes
Cooking Time: 30-40 minutes
4 tbsps olive oil 1 medium onion (chopped) 1 carrot (grated) 250 gr (8.8 oz) yellow split peas (fava)
1,5-1,7 lt (1.3 -1,5 quart) boiling water
2 medium onions 3 tbsps. balsamic vinegar glaze 6 tbsps olive oil 2 tbsps pine nuts
1 tbsp fresh thyme or oregano (finely chopped)
6 cherry tomatoes (cut in four)
How to do it
Pour the olive oil into a deep non-stick saucepan on a medium heat. Once the oil is hot, add the onion and the carrot and sauté for 4-5 minutes.
Add the yellow split peas (fava).
Sauté together with the onion and carrot for 2 minutes.
Add about 1.5 lt (1.6 quart) of the boiling water.
Simmer the split pea mixture for 20 minutes.
Leave the lid off the saucepan and stir every so often.
Check to make sure the fava doesn’t stick as the liquid reduces.
Add salt and pepper.
When the bubbles that come up to the surface of the fava start spitting (this happens after about 40 minutes), taste it and check if the yellow split peas have softened.
If not and most of the water is gone, add some hot water (1/2 cup), stir well and let it simmer for another 5 minutes. The consistency of your fava should be the one of a coarse purée.
Remove the pot from the heat and purée with a hand mixer until it becomes totally smooth and velvety.
Add salt and pepper to taste.
Take a non-stick frying pan and toast the pine nuts on low heat without adding any oil.
Remove them from heat and place them in a small bowl.
Place again the same pan on a medium to low heat, add the olive oil and when it’s hot sauté the onions for a few minutes until they begin to caramelize.
Add to the pan the cherry tomatoes and the balsamic vinegar glaze.
Stir well and continue sautéing for another ten minutes until most of the liquid has been absorbed.
Add the fresh thyme/oregano and the pine nuts.
Mix well so that all the ingredients are perfectly incorporated.
To serve place the fava dip in a deep dish, add the caramelized onion mixture and drizzle 1-2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil over it.
Fava split peas are traditionally served with freshly chopped raw onion atop, a generous drizzle of extra virgin olive oil (preferably Greek), a squeeze of lemon juice and fresh oregano leaves as a final touch (or dry if fresh is not available). So you can skip the “How to Do it” steps 13 to 20. This traditional fava is called “single”. The one we made above is called “married” because you marry the fava split peas with other ingredients atop.