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Friday, 23 November 2007

Fava (Φάβα)

Greece's favourite bean puree is made from crushed dry yellow beans, which look like a cross between a pea and a lentil (but they're not green or brown). Not to be confused with the American meaning of fava, yellow split peas are commonly used to make this puree in Greece, although fava can also be made from the puree of dry broad beans (which is known as foulia in Greek), but it is not as tasty as the yellow split pea. This meal resebles Indian dhal in texture, so it can be used as a tasty dip for vegetables. Although it is extremely easy to cook, it does take a long time. It is not a freezer dish, but it can be stored in the fridge for a few days if it isn't eaten on the same day as it is cooked. And for such a tasty meal, it is economical in terms of cost and time.

You need:
250g split dried yellow peas
1 cup olive oil
3 large onions
salt and pepper
Pour the packet of fava into a pot and cover it with water. Boil the fava for thirty minutes, then drain the water away and let the fava stand for half an hour for the peas to swell a little. Drain them once again, and toss in the roughly chopped onions, oil and seasonings (it's that simple). Cover the ingredients with water, to level up to 1-2cm above the peas. Bring the pot to the boil, place a lid on the pot, turn down the heat to a low simmering point and let the fava boil away until all the water has evaporated and the peas have gone soft and mushy.

At this stage, you can put the mixture into a blender and turn it into a smooth paste, or leave as it is for a crunchier texture (I prefer the latter). Pour the mixture into individual plates, and have ready some thinly sliced onions, olives and and finely chopped parsley. You can also make some carrot and celery sticks to go with this meal, or use any other crunchy vegetable. Most people add more olive oil to their own dish, but that depends on how fanatically devoted to the liquid you are... The best protein to serve with fava is shrimps or calamari, but a good-quality grilled sausage also does the trick. We ate it with fresh whitebait, fried till crisp.

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MORE BEAN RECIPES:
Chili con carne
Lentil stew
Bean soup
String bean stew
Black-eyed beans
Pulses
Ginat butter beans