Let’s clear up the linguistic confusion first.
In English, fava refers to Vicia faba, large beans in long green pods that are also known as broad beans or horse beans in English (in Greek, they're called koukia). This article is not about Vicia faba.
Today I’m writing about Greek fava, Lathyrus clymenum L., a variety of yellow split pea that has been grown on the Aegean island of Santorini for at least 3500 years. In Greek, the word “fava” can refer to either the dried split peas or the appetizer spread that is made from them.
Although fava is grown across Greece, Santorini fava are slightly sweeter than those grown elsewhere and are widely considered to have superior flavor. Santorini is also famous for its “waterless” tomatoes and its capers; Santorini Fava Pie uses all three ingredients.
The crust for the pie is made from puréed fava, and is a good way to use up leftovers. To make the crust, cooked fava is mixed with semolina flour, pressed into a tart pan, and baked until it’s slightly crispy. Baked fava develops a wonderfully nutty flavor that enhances the filling ingredients. Because it doesn’t need to be rolled out, fava crust is simple to make.
Puréed fava is also the base of Fava Pantremeni, or “Married” Fava. The name refers to the wedding of fava and capers, two very compatible ingredients, in a single dish. The below recipe for Fava Pantremeni is based on a dish we ate last summer at Logia tis Ploris, an Athenian fish taverna.
Although it's difficult to find fava outside of Greece, yellow split peas are a fine substitute.Santorini Fava Pies with Tomatoes, Capers, and Eggs (Σαντορίνη Φάβα Πίτες με Ντομάτες, Κάπαρης και Αυγά)
Serves 6 as an appetizer
Adapted from Simply Plated 2
1 1/2 cups fava purée (see recipe below)
6 – 10 Tbsp. semolina flour
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 1/2 cups thinly sliced onions, cut in quarter moon slices
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp. Aleppo pepper (optional)
1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes, or 1 1/2 cups fresh, with juices
1/4 cup water
1 bay leaf
2 tsp. oregano
3 Tbsp. minced sun-dried tomatoes in oil or 1 1/2 Tbsp. tomato paste
2 Tbsp. capers, preferably salted, rinsed and soaked
Make the Crust: Taste the fava purée and add salt, pepper, or oregano, as needed; the crust should be well-seasoned or the pie will be bland. Stir in 6 Tbsp. of semolina flour, and additional flour as needed to make dough that is the texture of thick mashed potatoes; the amount of flour depends on the moisture level of the fava purée. Taste again to make sure the seasoning is correct. (This can be made ahead.)
Make the Filling: Sauté the onions, lightly seasoned with salt and freshly ground black pepper, in the olive oil until the onions soften and start to turn golden. Stir in the Aleppo pepper and cook for 1 minute. Stir in the tomatoes, water, bay leaves, and oregano. Bring to a boil, turn down the heat, and simmer for 45 – 60 minutes, or until the sauce is thick and most of the liquid has evaporated. Turn off the heat and stir in the sun-dried tomatoes and capers. Taste and add salt or freshly ground black pepper, as needed. (This can be made ahead.)
Make the Pie: Preheat the oven to 425°F.
Light grease 6 small tart pans (I prefer 4.5” tart pans with removable bottoms). Divide the fava dough between the pans. Press out the dough to completely cover the bottom and sides of the pan. Bake for 10 – 15 minutes, or until the crusts are lightly browned and crispy around the edges. Turn down the oven to 350°F.
Fill each baked crust with tomato filling, making an indentation in the filling that is deep enough to hold an egg. Crack an egg into a small bowl and carefully pour it into the indentation. Repeat until all the eggs are used. Sprinkle with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Bake for 12 – 15 minutes, or just until the eggs are set; the yolks should be runny and the whites soft. Remove pies from the tart pans and serve immediately.
Fava Pantremeni (Φάβα Παντρεμένη)
If you don’t have access to Greek fava, yellow split peas are the best substitute I’ve found.
1/2 cup Santorini fava or yellow split peas
6 Tbsp. olive oil
1 cup diced onion, 1/4” dice
Freshly ground black pepper
3 cups water
1 tsp. oregano
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1/2 cup diced onion, 1/8” dice
3 Tbsp. lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil, plus more for drizzling
4 tsp. oregano
1/4 cup capers, rinsed and dried
1/4 cup diced tomatoes, 1/8” dice (optional)
Make the Fava Purée: Put the fava in a strainer and rinse under cold running water. Sauté the onions, lightly seasoned with salt and freshly ground black pepper, in 1/4 cup olive oil until the onions soften and start to turn golden. Stir in the rinsed fava and water, bring to a boil, turn down the heat, and simmer for 1 1/2 to 2 hours until the fava turns into a thick purée. Stir the fava regularly to make sure it isn’t sticking to the bottom of the pan, particularly towards the end of the cooking time.
When the fava is the thickness you desire, turn off the heat and stir in the oregano, lemon juice, and remaining 2 Tbsp. olive oil. Taste and add salt, as needed. Cover with a dish towel and let cool to room temperature. (At this stage, the purée is ready to be used in Santorini Fava Pie, above.)
Make the Fava Pantremeni: Stir the diced onion, lemon juice, and olive oil into the Fava Purée. Spread the purée out on a plate. Drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle the oregano over the purée, then the capers, and then the tomatoes (if using).
Serve with a bowl of olives and crusty bread, or as part of an appetizer spread.
This is my entry for My Legume Love Affair – 9th Edition (MLLA9), created by Susan of The Well-Seasoned Cook, which I am hosting in March 2009.