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This Greek Yellow Split Pea Dip called Fava is creamy, nutritious, and full of protein. A great change of pace from everyday chickpea hummus.
Fava, a dish found in restaurants all over Greece, is not made with the conventional fava bean as the name would suggest. It’s actually a purée of yellow split peas, sometimes also labelled as yellow pigeon peas, that is eaten as a spread or dip with bread. This dish is a vegan’s best friend while traveling in Greece because it is filling, nutritious, and widely available.
When I was in Greece, I ordered it for dinner nearly every night, along with other mezze dishes like eggplant salad, tomato fritters, and roasted mushrooms. Each restaurant has a different twist but the fundamentals are all the same: yellow split peas cooked down with onion, olive oil, and sometimes herbs then blended smooth and topped with garnishes.
I’ve kept my recipe close to the classic, but there are some tweaks that I make when preparing Fava. The best Fava of all the ones I tried in Greece was simmered with plenty of bay leaves, so I think the flavor of bay is essential. Otherwise, herbs are optional while simmering the peas, but a sprig of thyme or oregano is never a bad idea.
Also, I’m not the biggest fan of raw onion and, in Greece, it is traditional to garnish the dish with them. I’ve done it here in these pictures to give you the idea, but, honestly, I almost always garnish with less harsh green onions or sweet caramelized onions. Finally, spices are not typically added to the peas, but I find that a light dusting of cumin, zaatar, dukka, or just simply black pepper on top before serving really makes this Fava shine.
- 2½ cups (500g) yellow split peas
- 7 cups water
- 1 medium/large onion roughly chopped
- 1 clove garlic, sliced
- 2 bay leaves
- a few sprigs of thyme or oregano
- 1¾ teaspoons sea salt
- 3 Tablespoons olive oil
- finely chopped onion (or green onion)
- chopped sun-dried tomatoes
- lemon wedges/lemon juice
- fresh or dried herbs (parsley, thyme, oregano)
- spices (cumin, coriander, black pepper)
- extra virgin olive oil
- First, pick through your split peas and wash them well in running water 2 or 3 times. Drain, then add them to a large pot with the 7 cups of water. Put it on high heat until it comes to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low. At this point, you may notice some foam accumulating on the surface of the water. Just use a large spoon to skim this foam off and discard it.
- Add in the chopped onion, garlic, bay leaves, sprigs of thyme/oregano, and salt. Allow the peas to simmer on medium-low for around 30-35 minutes while stirring every so often. You will notice that the peas will swell and start to break down. Do a taste test to check for doneness. When the peas are cooked and tender, remove the bay leaves and herb sprigs.
- Now transfer the peas and liquid to a food processor or blender and add the 3 Tablespoons of olive oil. Blend until smooth and creamy. If you are having trouble blending, add a few splashes of water to get things moving. Return the blended spread to the pot and remove it from the heat. Taste for seasoning and adjust accordingly. You can leave it in the pot until you are ready to serve, just cover the pot with a tight lid to ensure that the fava spread doesn't dry out. If you notice that it does dry out, stir in a splash or two of water.
- To serve, spoon out some of the fava into a bowl or dish and garnish it with more olive oil, capers, herbs, onions, spices, and a good squeeze of lemon juice. Serve with bread.