Each year with the approach of Lent, Greeks all over the world prepare for the Easter celebration by fasting for a forty day period. The greater part of this fast consists in abstaining from meats and animal by-products including dairy foodstuffs like eggs, milk and butter. Coincidentally, this fasting period (called Sarakosti or ‘forty days’) arrives at just the right time to help us shed some of the extra weight we have put on during the winter months! Of course, it is always a challenge to come up with appropriate foods that are both tasty and varied, but thanks to the wide range of Greek gastronomic specialties this period can be anything but monotonous.
Fava is essentially a yellow split-pea purée and it is especially popular on the Greek islands, particularly Santorini (or Thera) and Crete. On Santorini, fava is an important element in that island’s cookery, and it is eaten year round as an accompaniment to the most varied meals. Fava is an excellent vegetarian source of protein, and also contains significant amounts of thiamin, pantothenic acid, folate and iron.
½ kg. yellow split pea
1 onion, finely diced
250ml. (1 cup) extra virgin olive oil
1. Wash the split peas well in a basin with lots of water.
2. Put split peas in a pot and add water to cover the split peas by about ½ an inch or so.
3. Add onion and extra virgin olive oil.
4. Bring pot to a boil and then simmer for approximately 40 minutes, stirring occasionally.
5. As the split peas start to soften, add salt to taste and stir more frequently. (Note: You may need to add some more water to the pot if the split peas soak it up before they are fully cooked, but don’t add too much.)
6. When the split peas have thickened and are fully cooked, remove from heat and purée until smooth with a wand blender or other food processor.
Refrigerate or let stand for several hours so the fava congeals. Serve with some lemon juice, olive oil, and a generous dose of oregano overtop.