and a few words on Santorini’s culinary heritage
I had mail yesterday! Snail mail to be precise but what a lovely surprise this was: a postcard from Santorini! Fava dish is in order.
I can’t help but feel a bit nostalgic when I received this postcard. Such bliss in such a small card. It was sent by Nicoletta from One Quarter Greek who has moved permanently to the beautiful island. I enjoy wholeheartedly seeing her adventures and if you would like to get a glimpse of Santorini everyday life, definitely check out her blog.
Santorini is famous for its caldera and the awesome sunsets. In recent years, even more so for the insane amount of tourists & honeymooners that flood the island every year. Hardly surprising as the views of the caldera are breathtaking and even the most difficult visitor will instantly fall in love with its wonderful views and the delicious food. But what can grow on bare rock? I hear you! And you will be amazed with how much Santorini has to offer. Both in the dry and liquid section.
This arid Cycladic island has a unique microclimate that helped its wines become world-famous. All around Santorini you can see low-laying vines stretching down the hillsides. The vines are round, crown-shaped and pruned purposefully short for protection from the strong winds. The volcanic soil is excellent for water retention in a place where rain is scarce. Soil minerals boost crop’s growth, and so is the night fog that rises from the sea and brings to the vines the much needed moisture in the dry summer weather.
The most well known indigenous variety is Santorini Assyrtiko, an excellent dry white with Protected Denomination of Origin (PDO). There is also Vinsanto. Assyrtiko is mixed together with the aromatic Aidani and Athiri variety of grapes to produce the unique, naturally sweet wine, known since the Byzantine times.
As for food, the cuisine has an abundance of seafood to offer, as with any Greek island, but also some gems that are impossible to find anywhere else: fava, yellow split peas; the dry grown cherry tomatoes and the famous tomato fritters, capers & caper leaves. It’s the fava puree I have been longing for!
In order to make fava, you boil the yellow split peas into a mash, very similar to hummus in texture. It is a simple, everyday but very filling and comforting dish. Most will have it as a side laid around many other delicacies on a table of mezze. Traditionally, however, fava is also served as a main, topped with thinly chopped purple onions and a few capers.
The simplicity of cooking the yellow split peas is an embodiment to the island itself and the simple way of living. You need nothing but a few ingredients: dried fava beans, onions and lots of extra virgin olive oil.
Fava, yellow split peas puree
- 300 gr fava
- 1 onion halved
- 2 medium garlic cloves minced
- 1 small carrot roughly chopped
- 1 bay leaf
- 3-4 sprigs of thyme
- 100 ml extra virgin Olive oil plus extra for drizzling
- To serve:
- Thinly sliced purple onion capers, caper leaves
- Lemon wedges
- Put the split peas in a fine colander and wash under cold water.
- Place in a deep pot the fava, onion, garlic, herbs and cover with water.
- Bring to the boil and skim off any froth that comes up.
- Once the water evaporates, the peas should be mushy. Traditionally the puree was mushed together with a fork. If you have a handheld blender it is much quicker. Remove the onion and herbs and mush all the ingredients together. Add the olive oil bit by bit as you are mushing.
- Season with sea salt and freshly ground pepper to your taste.
- To serve, you can garnish with finely chopped red onions, capers, and a few caper leaves.
There are a couple of more wonderful yellow split peas dishes, I will share them with you soon.
From London with love,
PS: this dish was firstly photographed for Greek Biostore. If you are looking for yellow split peas, check out their store!by