Recently, I asked for my husband’s input regarding a “Greek-ified” Father’s Day recipe to write about. Father’s Day seems to be about BBQ and all the fixings. I knew I didn’t want to tamper with the BBQ tradition (mainly because backyard BBQ isn’t an option right now under my current living conditions!) but I was stumped as to what recipe I could contribute to the occasion.
Immediately he suggested Fava. Fava is something I had completely forgotten about until he said the word. When I asked him why, he said “because Fava reminds me of your dad.” He went on to explain memories of when we were first dating long-distance. He would travel to California from Oregon to visit and my dad would have Fava dip and an Ouzo waiting for him. They would play tavli (backgammon) or cribbage and listen to Greek music from the 1920’s. These are fond recollections etched in his mind and for some reason I had forgotten about them.
I am glad my husband reminded me of these memories. Fava is still one of my dad’s favorite appetizers. It’s been a while since I’ve made it and I’ve even forgotten how ridiculously simple it is. In addition, it brought back so many memories of eating Fava at a small kafeneion in Athens called Orea Ellas meaning ‘Beautiful Greece’. Orea Ellas is like walking into another era. Housed in a beautiful 100-year old building on Pandrossou Street within the modern marketplace area known as Plaka, the only way you will learn of this place is by word of mouth. Fancy signage and advertising is not there to entice you in. Orea Ellas is one of Athen’s best kept secrets! It is comfortable, quiet and relaxed with an incredible view of the Acropolis and the Ancient Agora. The simple appetizers-only menu includes Cretan cheese pies and meatballs from Smyrni and many other traditional plates, including warm Fava.
The ingredient list for Fava is not long and preparation is simple. Yellow split peas have a nutty scent and flavor and simply seasoned with salt, pepper, olive oil and lemon juice creates a mild yet incredibly tasty spread. The topping of chopped red onion lends a small bite to the already delicious appetizer.
Orea Ellas is where I was first introduced to Fava on a cold and wintery family business trip one January almost 20 years ago. From there, my dad would make it at home back in the states. And now, I’m excited to share it with you- in honor of my Father who first ordered this dish at Orea Ellas, my husband who brought back memories that should not be forgotten, and in celebration of Father’s Day.
1 pound yellow split-peas, rinsed
8-10 cups water
2-4 tablespoons olive oil
1-tablespoon kosher salt
1-teaspoon fresh ground pepper
Juice of ½ – 1 lemon
Chopped red onion
In a large pot cover rinsed split peas with cold water and season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then lower heat to a simmer. Cover and simmer for 45 minutes to 1 hour, stirring occasionally so the beans do not stick to the bottom of the pot. Add more water as necessary during cooking. When beans are soft, uncover and remove from heat. Cool slightly then mash peas with a potato masher to form a thick puree.
Place the mixture in a large flat bowl and top with olive oil, and chopped red onion. Serve warm with cut vegetables, pita wedges or crackers.
©2014 by Alexandra Salidas Roll, Figs & Feta, LLC.
Recipe and photos by Alexandra Salidas Roll of Figs & Feta, LLC. Please do not reprint this recipe without permission. If you would like to feature this recipe on your blog or site, please rewrite the method of preparation and link your post to this one as the original source. Thank you!