This summer I’ve been blessed with lots of traveling. After spending the first half of August in Italy with my family, I spent a few days on the wonderful Island of Santorini! The beautiful spots in Greece are countless, but there’s something really magic about this island.
When you reach Fira – the capital of the island – and you keep walking up through the narrow streets, suddenly you reach the cliff on the volcano side, and you won’t believe what you see: Right in front of you, a jaw-dropping, breathtaking view appears out of nowhere! I took countless pictures as expected, that you can find here.
Evgenia and her mom – the Greek best hosts you can imagine! – who run the hotel Milos Villas I stayed at, suggested I couldn’t leave that place without having eaten the local specialties at Aegialos. It’s a little restaurant right on the beach only a few minutes drive from Fira. She drove me there and introduced me to Antonis, the owner who runs this hidden treasure spot with his mom. She is the chef in the kitchen, and it’s her who prepares those delicious Santorini classics the way she cooks them at home. And on top of that the main ingredients they use come straight from the family owned farm that has been passed on for generations.
My last day in Santorini couldn’t have ended better! Evgenia told Antonis to arrange a mixed plate with a selection of the most popular dishes. The outcome was the result of the amazing Greek hospitality that that country is already known for. Enough food that could have fed at least two: fava (orange colored split peas), tomato keftedes (fried tomato and zucchini balls), cod fish and sardines.
While I kept wondering how on earth I could finish all that food by myself, the waiter asked me if I was ready for more food. Maybe a dessert? I smiled and said: ‘I wish I could..but that’s not gonna work..’ That was the time I learned that there is no ‘no, thank you’ in Greek terms. You need at least try it, even if you can’t eat all of it. That reminded me of back home in Italy ;) Shortly after he comes back with a dessert made of Greek yogurt and some kind of preserved grapes with a sweet syrup. And I mean real Greek yogurt! No fat-free imitation. I have no idea where I put all that food. All I remember is that a few minutes later the dessert plate was clean. No wonder, it was ohhh-so-gooood!
Ok, now let’s go to the recipe that I wanted to share with you. It’s called fava. So simple, and a few ingredients only. It looks like hummus, but it’s made with split peas that grow only on Santorini. What makes it so unique is the volcanic soil they grow on. Although you can find other varieties throughout Greece and even Turkey. You should be able to find them in international specialty stores, even if probably not the ones from the island.
I’m glad to share with you Antonis’ traditional family recipe. Again, a special thanks to him, Evgenia and their staff and the great hospitality that made me feel like home away from home!
Hope you enjoy this recipe, too. Don’t let the plain, simple look fool you.. Believe me, the intense taste will be even more surprising, and so worth it!
FAVA – YELLOW SPLIT PEAS PUREE
500 g / 17½ oz of dried fava (yellow split peas)
1 big onion
1 tbsp of salt
½ tsp of pepper
1 small glass of olive oil
* * * * *
Pour the split peas into a pot. Fill with water (approx. 2l / 67fl oz) and bring to a boil.
Turn the stove down to low heat and simmer. Stir once in a while.
In the meantime, pour some of the olive oil into a pan and add the chopped onion, salt and pepper. Brown at medium heat.
As soon as the peas start getting soft, add the onions. Let it boil for approx. 1h. Stir continuously during the last 20min.
Stir in the remaining olive oil, and sprinkle some on top after serving.