Santorini Fava with Two Toppings

Today Santorini Fava is served as a meze at taverns throughout Greece, often dressed simply with fruity olive oil, topped with sliced onions and dried Greek oregano. I like to top it with braised onions and capers, but also with chopped scallions, herbs, and bitter greens.

MORE about the legume’s history. 


A variation of this second version we prepared for the 2019 Oxford Symposium Dinner, we cooked with chef Michael Costa. He preferred a perfectly smooth fava puree, and added some basil leaves which made it perfect!   


Serves 8-10 as meze      



3            tablespoons olive oil


1            medium onion, finely chopped


2            teaspoons salt


2            cups yellow split peas (preferably split lathyrus, if available), picked over and rinsed


2            bay leaves


1            tablespoon turmeric




1            cup good-quality medium or large capers, preferably salt-packed


1/2 – 2/3 cup olive oil    


3            cups halved and thinly sliced purple onions 


1            cup sweet red wine, such as Mavrodaphne or sweet Marsala    


2–3        tablespoons good red wine vinegar (optional if using brine-packed capers)


Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling


Maraş pepper or freshly ground black pepper, to taste




One bunch green onions –white and most green part thinly sliced


1 medium radicchio thinly sliced


1 ½-2 cups capers


2-3 tablespoons juice from the capers


1-3 teaspoons lemon juice (to taste)


½ cup EVO or more, and extra fruity EVO to drizzle


Freshly ground pepper, preferably Aleppo/Maras Pepper


Borage or rosemary flowers (blue) to decorate (optional)


Basil sprigs (optional)



Cook the split peas:  Heat the olive oil in a skillet, add the onion, sprinkle with salt and sauté for about 5  minutes, until just soft.  Place the split peas in a large pot, add the sautéed onions with their oil, cover with water by 4 inches and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, skimming often, for 5 minutes.


Add the turmeric and bay leaves, simmer for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add a little warm water, if needed, to keep the peas covered as they cook. The peas are done when they are very soft and almost dry . Puree with an immersion blender or transfer to a food processor and process. Let the puree cool completely; it will thicken considerably.


(Can be prepared to this point up to 3 days in advance. Store covered in the refrigerator and bring to room temperature before serving.)


Make the braised Onion-Caper Toping: If using salt-packed capers, place them in a colander and rinse under lukewarm running water for 2-3 minutes, or until they lose their excessive saltiness. If using brine-packed capers, rinse them well to remove most of their tartness. Dry the capers on paper towels.


In a deep skillet heat 1/4 cup of the oil and sauté the onions over medium heat, tossing often until soft, about 8  minutes. Add the capers and the remaining oil and cook for 2-3 minutes or until the capers start to sizzle. Pour in the wine and cook for 1 minute. Add a ½ cup of water, reduce the heat to low and cook for 8 minutes.


Turn the heat to high and cook, stirring, until the water has evaporated and the onions start to caramelize.  Remove from the heat and add vinegar and pepper to taste; you may not need to add vinegar if using capers that were packed in brine. Let cool before serving.


(The capers and onions can be made up to 3 days in advance, covered and refrigerated; bring to room temperature before serving.)


Make the Scallion-Herb Topping: Toss together the scallions, capers and juice, herbs, radicchio and other ingredients, minus the flowers, if using, at least 30 minutes before serving, and/or refrigerate for  up to 3 hours.  



Transfer the cooled split pea purée to a shallow bowl and spread it with a spoon, leaving about a 1 inch space all around from the edge of the bowl and the purée.  Use the spoon to create a well in the center of the purée.  Spread the onion-caper topping in and around the well. Drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil and sprinkle with Maraş or black pepper, if you like. 


If you serve with the Scallion-Herb Topping, add it in the center of the cooled split pea purée, drizzle with fruity olive oil, and sprinkle with the blue flowers and/or the basil leaves, if using.







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