Fava is a much loved Greek dip, made from yellow split peas (lentils) but is not to be confused with dried broad beans, which is known as fava in other parts of the world. Fava is usually served with other dishes as part of a meal but can also be served as mezethes, which are small plates designed to have with drinks like ouzo or raki – in a similar fashion to Spanish tapas.
‘Protected designation of origin’ status has been provided to the Greek fava grown on the spectacular island of Santorini. It has been grown there for over 3,500 years in the volcanic soil and has properties that make it a totally unique product with an distinctive flavour and texture.
For a product to have PDO status awarded, it must be have unique qualities and be traditionally and totally produced within the specific region. Some other examples of Greek PDO products include Kalamata olives and mastic from Chios.
Interestingly, researching this, I discovered that feta cheese also has PDO status, and that it must be made of a combination of sheep and goats milk, and be made in Greece to be called feta. Hello Denmark, Australia and Bulgaria, you might like to take note. Clearly no-one is policing this one! There currently isn’t a PDO on Greek yogurt – I wish there was, it should be illegal to call that awful stuff made elsewhere “Greek yogurt”.
Santorini fava differs from normal yellow split peas in the following ways:
- Firstly doesn’t need to be soaked overnight.
- Secondly cooks quicker (around 30mins vs 60mins).
- Thirdly upon cooking, breaks down completely, so doesn’t need to be blended.
- Lastly, cost is much more expensive than normal fava (6 Euro vs 1.50 Euro) for 250g.
If the Santorini fava you buy doesn’t comply with these points, then I’m afraid it isn’t Santorini fava. It should also have a PDO stamp on the packaging.
If you aren’t in Greece, you will probably have zero chance of getting your hands on Santorini Fava, so you can easily make this with normal yellow split peas. Either way, it will taste great, as normal split peas is what most Greeks use anyway. Just make sure you soak overnight and you will need to remove the onion and blend it.
The Santorini fava recipe below is straight off the packet and can be found online here.
1 cup fava (yellow split peas)
4 cups water
1 peeled onion
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1 shallot, finely diced
1 tblspn extra virgin olive oil
1 tlbspn red wine vinegar
2 sprigs fresh thyme
If using normal split peas, wash and soak overnight in cold water.
1. Wash and rinse the fava, place in a saucepan with cold water. Drop in the peeled whole onion, add salt and pepper.
2. Bring the boil and cook for around 30 mins (for Santorini fava) or 45-60mins (for normal yellow split peas). During cooking continually skim off the white foam with a spoon and remove.
3. While the fava is cooking make the topping and set aside for the flavours to blend.
4. Once the Santorini fava is cooked it will break down become creamy and smooth. The normal fava will look soften and start to break down but still be lumpy and look like porridge. You may need to add more water during cooking for the normal kind of fava.
5. When cooked remove the onion and allow the fava to cool slightly. The normal fava will need to be blended with a stick blender so that it is smooth. The Santorini fava will be perfect as is.
6. Serve on a plate and spoon the topping over just before serving.
Best served slightly warm or at room temperature.
Serves 4 as a side dish, or 6 or more as a dip.