Thursday, May 11, 2006

Santorini fava or dreaming about summer, sun and sand

After 2 days in burningly hot Athens back in July 2002, I finally caught an overnight ferry from Piraeus to Santorini to spend almost a week on the island. Having been born and bred up in the North, I found the scorching 'n' bright Greek sun very difficult to deal with. But what can you do, life as an academic can be tough, and conferences need to be attended, papers need to be given :-)

To compensate, I relaxed on the beach in the evenings and familiarised myself with various delicacies on offer. And Santorini has many. The fertile volcanic soil grows wonderful aromatic tomatina or tiny cherry tomatoes which are renown for their distinct flavour. They often find their way into tomatokeftedes or meatless ‘meat balls’, made with tomatoes, herbs and butter and no meat. One can also find small white eggplants on the island, known as the apple of love. Santorini has also got some distinct desserts, among them koufeto – a spoonsweet prepared with honey-soaked almonds and is served at weddings, and melitinia cheese pies popular during Easter.

I must admit though, that I found it very difficult to eat anything in the scorching 40˚Celsius, and survived mainly on water and frappes during the day, and modest amounts of food in the evenings. Luckily, I will have another chance this summer to enjoy these culinary gems, as some Edinburgh friends are getting married on the island at the end of June. I will make an effort to chase down some Chloro fresh cheese and to sample some Santorinian wines. Meanwhile, I satisfy my craving for sun and sea with some fava spread. Fava is a puree made with special fava lentils native to the island. If you cannot get hold of them, then dried yellow split peas come closest, and I’ve used them for the recipe below. Note that Greek fava is distinct from a Turkish dish with a similar name. Whereas the Greek fava is often served lukewarm as a main dish or light meal, then the Turks prefer it cold as part of a meze table, and it is made of fava broad beans - and not lentils - there (I owe it to Tülin of the Domestic Cat for pointing this important difference out to me, she also provides recipe for the Turkish fava).

Santorini fava puré
(Santorini hernepüree)
Makes two bowlfuls

500 grams dried Santorini fava lentils or small yellow split peas
2 medium onions -quarter one, chop the other finely
125 ml extra virgin olive oil, preferably Greek
crushed black pepper
a generous handful of finely chopped flat leaf parsley
one lemon

Rinse the split peas under running cold water, put into a large saucepan and cover with double the amount of fresh cold water. Bring slowly to the boil, removing any impurities and foam that occur.
Add the onion quarters, a pinch of salt and half of the olive oil. Simmer on a low heat for 40-60 minutes, until the peas have softened and become mushy.
Push the peas through a fine sieve or purée with a blender.
Add the rest of the olive oil, lemon juice, minced onion, chopped parsley and season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir and serve.
Fava is great as a small meal with some crusty bread, or as a dip for vegetables.


Kalyn Denny said...

I love the sound of this. I think it would taste great on pita bread. Your trip sounds like it was fun, lucky you to be going there again. I've been to Greece, but not to any of the islands, and I'd love to go there.

Journal Actif said...

Fava beans are my favorites. I grow them every year in the vegetable garden. But I guess canadian soil and sun surely makes them less flavourfull than the ones you tasted under the sun.
I'll keep this recipe for fava beans season anyway. It sounds so good!

Anonymous said...

Pille, can i go with you?

Those Santorini eggplant looks so similar to the ones you get in the 'African shops'. If they're the ones, then i've tried it mashed and stewed, cooked with tomatoes, onions, chillies and some dried cod...[a Ghanaian delicacy]it was delicious!

Mmmmm i bet the Fava would go great with some toasted and buttered soldiers.

amyjames said...

OK. I was fine with the little bit of sunshine that we've recently been blessed with.

Until I read this post and now I'm craving that hot Mediterrannean sun. And feta cheese and olives, and warm thyme picked straight off the hillside.


I'll have to indulge in Fava Bean puree until my equilibrium is restored.

Clivia said...

Oh lucky, lucky you! Santorini is wonderful, we were there just a year ago and totally fell in love with the island. I have some good tips for you - drop me an e-mail if you like!

Valentina said...

What a lovely post. it has also touched me because I had a very close friend who loved Greece and Santorini in special.That's where her ashes were spread.

Leisus said...

Some very nice food


any veggie dishes

Federico Perazzoni said...


What is??

Anonymous said...

Ahhh! Santorini... one of my favorite places! Thanks for this recipe.

Take plenty of photos to share with us when you return. ;-)


Anonymous said...

The fava bean puree looks splendid. I grew them this year and shelled at least 60 pounds of the little devils--almost got tendonitis in my wrist from it.

Pille said...

Kalyn - I am very much looking forward to visit the Greek islands again, and this time I'll go an extra mile to try the local delicacies!

Zoubida - you better check out Tülin's recipe if you're using fava beans! This Santorini dish uses special lentils, though yellow split peas are a good substitute.

Mae - I'm travelling on my own, so if you come along to Jeanne&Johanna's foodblog party, we can head to Greece together;) I haven't seen white eggplants in any shops here in Edinburgh, but will look more carefully next time!

Amy - what happened to the lovely spring we had here?! I went to Paris for 4 days, and have just returned to a very cold and wet Edinburgh. Sulk:(

Clivia - thanks! Will do!

Valentina - sorry to hear about your friend. But Santorini is a lovely resting place indeed..

Dr l.a savage, nyc taxi shots, federico - thank you.

Paz - if I don't get a bad case of heat- and sunstroke again, I'll try to take many lovely photos! Have you been to Santorini?

Sher - thanks. Hope your tendonitis is gone now:)

ksg said...

Sounds like we had some similar experiences! I couldn't believe how delicious the food in Santorini was. Great post!