Greek fava is a bit of a misnomer because it isn’t actually made from fava beans, but rather yellow split peas. It is a simple dip using 5 ingredients that is both satisfying and delicious accompanied by bread, olives and cheese. This recipe is from the Stamatis family on the island of Ikaria which has also been called the “Island Where People Forget to Die” because it has the highest rate of people to live over 100 years of age in the world.
Ikaria is a beautiful Greek island about 60 miles from Turkey. My wife, Christine and I visited there a few years back and spent some time with Diane Kochilas, a cookbook author extraordinaire and host of the public television show My Greek Table. It is a rugged island where elders are not only healthy, but very well respected. It is an island where people spend a lot of time producing their own food and also much time relaxing.
Making fava only involves a few steps. To begin, rinse the fava beans and prepare the other ingredients. Pour fava beans and chopped onions into a saucepan, add water to a few inches above the beans and bring to a boil. Boil the beans until they are mushy adding more water if needed. Transfer the beans to a bowl and beat in the rest of the ingredients with a fork.
When I have eaten this dish in Greece, it is usually cold and served with other small plates (mezze). Sometimes, olive oil is drizzled on top along with smoked paprika and an olive in the middle.
Pick over the split peas to remove any discoloured ones, and rinse. Place them in a large saucepan with the onions and enough water to cover a few inches above the beans.
Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 30 to 45 minutes, adding more water if needed, until the split peas are thick and mushy. If there is still some water remaining at the end, drain it off before transferring the peas to a bowl.
Beat in the garlic, lemon juice and oil until thick and well blended. Leave to cool, then add salt and pepper to taste and garnish with paprika. Drizzle olive oil on top if desired.