Clearly, Greece has been on my mind lately. One of my last posts was a fabulous Hellenic black-eyed pea salad and I’m back with an equally terrific dip. Actually, when I’ve had this in Greece it’s always been described as a salad on the menu even though it is also served as a dip. And, although it’s called fava, there are only split peas in the dish… no fava at all. Whatever you want to call it, it fits the bill. Satisfying, savory and comforting are three adjectives which describe fava perfectly. It can be served as a side dish or as a dip with bread. Fava pairs beautifully with grilled seafood and grilled bread or pita. Think of it as a pea hummus.
It’s incredibly healthful especially with the olive oil called for and topped with crunchy, chopped red onion and a spritz of fresh lemon juice. Sometimes a few capers are thrown on or a handful of fresh borage leaves to round out the plate. I find Greek fava delightful served hot, warm or even cool. It’s incredibly inexpensive to prepare, high in protein and, since it’s peas and not beans, easy to digest. A total win-win. Greek fava is always served with bread but, like hummus, is great with raw vegetables also. Sometimes I toss a chicken bouillon cube in the cooking water but if I’d like to keep the dish vegetarian I simply leave it out. It is served both chunky or smooth depending on your taste. If you’d like to serve it smooth, process it prior to pouring it into your serving dish. This is a super-popular dish in Greece and totally authentic. We always seemed to enjoy fava seaside, sitting on wooden straight back chairs, surrounded by family. Small blue and white wooden boats bobbed at our feet while a neighborhood cat or two kept a sharp eye out for any morsel which might happen to land on the ground. I hope you’ll try Greek fava out for a taste of the “real” Greece!
Greek Fava Dip
- 1 14-ounce bag yellow or green split peas, rinsed
- 3/4 cup good olive oil, preferably Greek, divided
- 1 good-sized onion, about 8 ounces, peeled and cut in a cross hatch down to the root but not all the way through
- 1-2 dried bay leaves or 3-4 fresh
- 1 chicken bouillon cube, optional
- salt to taste
- red onion, finely chopped to garnish
- Greek oregano, to garnish
- capers, to garnish
- 1 lemon, cut in wedges
- In a heavy bottom pot, heat several tablespoons of the olive oil and sweat the whole onion for 3-4 minutes.
- Add the split peas and stir to coat with oil. Add water to cover 1-inch above the peas.
- Bring to a boil and drop the heat down to simmer.
- Stirring occasionally to avoid the peas from sticking to the bottom of the pot, continue simmering until there is very little water left in the pot and the peas have broken down and are much smoother. Taste for doneness. If the peas are soft and tender, remove from heat. If they need a bit more time, add 1/4 cup of water, stir and continue simmering until done.
- Add 1/2 of remaining olive oil and stir into peas until completely absorbed. Taste for salt and adjust accordingly.
- To serve as an appetizer, pour fava into a large, shallow dish with sides, cover with a clean linen towel and let sit for 15-20 minutes to further thicken. Drizzle remaining olive oil over dish and garnish with onion, oregano and capers. Serve with crusty bread and lemon wedges alongside with a cruet of good olive oil if you wish.