Fáva is a velvety, smooth dip very popular in the taverns and homes of Greece. Not to be confused with the fava bean or broad bean, it is usually made with yellow split peas. Occasionally it is also made with dried and broken fava beans (κουκιά) but that dish has a light, green colour instead of its usual pale, mustard-yellow. It is usually served cold with chopped onion, lemon juice and a generous drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. But mother often fed us warm fava for a filling and nutritious meal – and we loved it. My favourite fáva flavour has a Cretan inspiration. Toasted cumin seeds and fried onion flavour my fáva recipe whilst roasted tomatoes and often caramelised onions are also paired or ‘married’ with it, as the Cretans say. Fáva can be paired beautifully with lamb but also octopus. It is nutritious and filling, and an impressive alternative to Hummus.
- 1 cup (around 250g) yellow split peas
- 500ml vegetable stock
- 1 small onion, quartered
- 1 garlic clove, peeled
- 1 bay leaf
- ½ tsp cumin seeds
- 1 – 2 tbsp. lemon juice
- Olive oil
- Salt (optional)
- Pepper (optional)
- Rinse the yellow split peas well and place in a sieve.
- Add enough oil to coat the base of a medium pot (2 to 3 tablespoons).
- Add the onion, garlic clove, bay leaf and cumin seeds, and stir fry for around 5 minutes till the onion slightly softens.
- Toss in the yellow split peas and coat well in the oil and flavours.
- Add the boiling hot stock and bring to a low simmer for up to 40 minutes.
- At the beginning the mixture might froth. If this happens remove the froth with a slotted spoon.
- Half an hour into cooking check whether the dish requires additional water so that it does not stick to the pan.
- When cooked the peas should be getting mushy when mixed and should not have a bite.
- Take off the heat, remove the bay leaf, add the lemon juice and cream the mixture with a hand blender.
- You can serve mixed in with roasted tomatoes and topped with caramelised onions.
- Yellow split peas are not the same as chana daal (yellow split lentils) commonly used in Indian cooking. You can source great quality, British grown, organic peas online through hodmedods.co.uk.
- Good quality ingredients make a great dip, so as well as using Hodmedods yellow split peas, I recommend you source use good quality extra virgin olive oil for this dip. Some of my choices include Oliveology, the Olive Press in Ludlow and The Greek Secret olive oils.
Fasolakia is one of the ultimate summer Greek dishes. The combination of new potato crops, the abundance of parsley, the tender freshness of the fasolakia (french or runner beans) is delightful in a summer stew. When I walked past the farmer market stalls last week I just knew this dish had to return. This meal is fully inspired and sourced at the Roath Farmers’ Market. So for the rest of the Saturdays and Sundays in July, do yourself a favour and head over to Blaencamel Farm’s stall or order their box online. At the moment everything at their stall has an extra special scent and flavour – the flavour of sunshine and summer.
You can make a vegan or vegetarian version of this dish but this time I have included one of my favourite, top quality meats too – dexter beef from Cig Lodor West Walian farm. Like many Greek dishes it is enjoyed in room temperature or even cold straight out of the fridge to cool you down. Get some Riverside Sourdough bread (Malted Wheat & Seeds) or some of Nata’s corn bread with this and you might be having one of your best summer meals yet. Trust me.
Ingredients (for 4 people)
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 1 pack of Cig Lodor cubed beef (400-500g)
- 2 bunches of French or runner beans (fasolakia), stringed, ends chopped off and halved
- 4 small to medium potatoes, peeled and chunky cubed
- 1 large or 2 small courgettes, large cubes so the don’t fall apart when stewed
- 1 bunch of parsley, roughly chopped
- 1 Tbsp. tomato paste or one large tomato grated
- 1.5-2 tsp. sea salt
- 0.5 tsp. ground black pepper
- Olive oil or extra virgin olive oil
Preparation ( 60 min)
- Coat the base of a wide pot with enough olive oil to cover it and a bit more.
- When the oil is hot add the beef and sauté until browned on both sides.
- Then add the onion, one tsp sea salt and sauté until the onion softens.
- Add the tomato paste or grated tomato and pepper and fry for a couple of minutes stirring well.
- Add the chunky cubed potatoes and beans of your choice. Stir fry for a couple of minutes until they are well coated in tomato paste and oil.
- Finally add the cubed courgettes, chopped parsley and stir well.
- Add half to one tsp of sea salt and enough boiling water to almost cover the veg and meat (but don’t submerge them).
- Stir well but before you place the lid on the pot to simmer for around 45 minutes, try to push the meat and potatoes to the bottom of the pot and the beans and courgettes closer to the top so that they steam.
- This is the biggest secret for this dish! From this point on do not stir so that your vegetable does not fall apart when cooked.
- Cook on low flame or heat for at forty-five minutes or until the water has reduced but not fully evaporated.
- The dish is ready when the meat is really easily cut with a fork (almost falling apart).
- Set aside for 20-30 minutes. Or for a real Greek meal enjoy (cold or in room temperature) the next day.