Fava, the Greek yellow split pea purée is a delicious, healthy powerhouse.
What makes the Greek and Mediterranean Diet so healthy? Legumes like the humble yellow split pea play a major part. That’s why I love having them on hand to make this delicious creamy (yet vegan) yellow split pea puree called Fava.
What is Fava
When we talk about fava outside Greece, most people would assume we mean fava beans. But they have nothing to do with Greek Fava. The dish is a simple puree of yellow split peas, a variety that people on the island of Santorini (and throughout the Cyclades and Crete) have been cultivating since 2000 B.C. The volcanic soil there creates a sweet yellow split pea that is rich in iron, magnesium, protein, and fiber — all essential nutrients we need. Traditionally, they are stone ground and more delicate than the ones we can commonly find in grocery stores int he U.S. They also have their own PDO.
Differences in yellow split peas
The size of the yellow split pea you’re working with is something to keep in mind for this recipe. If you can’t access yellow split peas from Santorini or Greece, you might come across the larger ones. When you’re making this recipe that means you will likely have to cook them longer. They will eventually break down. If they’re older and not breaking down, you can add a teaspoon of baking soda to the pot and that will help. Watch the step-by-step video below to see the difference between the two types of yellow split peas.
How to cook and serve Fava
This is a beautiful vegan purée. Throughout Greece, people commonly eat it as part of a mezze spread. I love serving it at my Greek pop-up dinners, and to my Los Angeles personal chef clients. It also is a beautiful accompaniment to seafood like octopus and roasted shrimp. You can also eat it polenta-like as a side to a heartier stew. I also love thinning it out a bit with a little broth to make a soup.
If you’re eating it as a spread/dip, traditional garnishes are capers or caper berries, chopped red onion, caramelized onions, tomatoes, and plenty of extra virgin olive oil. In my recipe, I also add onions, carrots, garlic, celery, and a bay leaf to the yellow split peas while they’re cooking for extra flavor, but traditionally, people keep it simple and just boil the split peas or just add in onion. It’s up to you and what you have on hand.
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