“Another bite” is a series of occasional posts about food, presenting the delicious local products, tasty dishes and other gastronomic delights we encounter on our tours and cruises.

The classic fava, as served in tavernas throughout Greece.

The classic fava, as served in tavernas throughout Greece.

After our recent posts on Assyrtiko wine and on tomatinia (cherry tomatoes), here’s our third instalment on the specialities of Santorini – our guests on Cruising to the Cyclades got to taste all three of them when we visited the island in May…

Santorini fava (Fava Santorinis) is one of the most significant products of that very famous island, along with the aforementioned wine and tomatoes, as well as the local capers. Fava is made from the plant lathurus clymenum, a local variety of yellow pea (not to be confused with what English-speakers know as fava beans). According to archaeological finds from the Bronze Age city of Akrotiri, the fava plant has grown consistently and exclusively on the island for more than 3,500 years.

This unique raw material is processed according to traditional methods: ground with stone mills, matured in kanaves (the island’s typical underground storerooms, cut into the volcanic rock), and dried in the Aegean sun, resulting in a highly distinctive flavour. Today, about 200 growers cultivate fava fields on the island. The low yield per hectare, but also the labour-intensive method of threshing as well as the processing and conservation mentioned above, elevate its costs. Nevertheless, each year a good harvest is produced. Many imitating products grown elsewhere are available in the Greek market, but the fava of the Union of Santorini Cooperatives (SantoWines) is the only type that adheres to guaranteed standards. Like Santorini Assyrtiko and tomatinia, it is recognised by the EU as a PDO (Protected Designation of Origin).

The smooth and velvety texture of Santorini Fava makes a great basis for various tasty experiments. It is traditionally eaten warm, as an appetizer or as a purée accompanying a main course of meat or fish.

Fava – Yellow split peas purée

A more elaborate version of the dish, served in a restaurant on Santorini, topped with caramelised onions and slices of octopus.

A more elaborate version of the dish, served in a restaurant on Santorini, topped with caramelised onions and slices of octopus.

Ingredients

400 grams (14oz) of fava (preferably real Santorini fava – NB: you need to use actual Greek fava, made of yellow split peas, NOT fava beans)

3-4 twigs of fennel

1 onion

Salt

For the garnish:

Olive oil

1 onion

2 twigs of fennel or dill

(Optionally you can add 2 twigs of oregano)

Preparation

Wash the yellow split peas and place them in a pot with boiling water (enough to cover the peas). While boiling, skim the foam off the surface. Add the whole onion, the twigs of fennel, and a tablespoon of sea salt. Then, simmer for about 1 hour, until the mixture thickens.

 When ready, squeeze the fava with a fork or just blend it in a mixer, until it takes on the texture of a purée.

Serve it on a plate, drizzle with olive oil, and dress it with lemon and finely chopped onion.

Variations

Optionally, you can add fennel, oregano, thyme and capers. Alternatively, you can also sauté some onions in olive oil, until they turn a dark golden colour, pour them over the hot fava and serve immediately.

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If you want to taste the authentic Santorini Fava on the island itself, join us on Cruising to the Cyclades next year!

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