Posts Tagged ‘Greece’

They call it fava, but it’s not the bean we usually associate with that name. Originally, broad beans were used in this dish, but quickly it changed to a type of yellow shelled lentil that is much smaller and flavorful than its American counterpart, the yellow split pea, no doubt due in part to the dry, volcanic Santorini soil it grows in. The lentil is smaller and the art of turning this simple gem into a sublime porridge is worth learning.
The fava at Dimitris Amoudi Taverna

The fava at Dimitris Amoudi Taverna

As common in Santorini as pasta is in Italy, grains of fava have been found in archaeological sites in the ancient city of Akrotiri (on the southern side of Santorini) dating as far back as 3500 years ago. Every taverna on the island offers their own version of fava, and though the differences are subtle, they can be significant.
Most recipes start with the dried lentils, which are washed thoroughly. They are added to a pot of fresh water and then boiled until the water reduces and the lentils slowly absorb the liquid and soften into a porridge. Often chopped onion is added to the pot of water in the very beginning, so that it completely dissolves and flavors the fava. Some recipes call for a subtle mixture of local dried herbs, similar to oregano and thyme, to be wrapped in cheesecloth and added to the pot to infuse flavor.
Like making a great Italian tomato sauce, cooking fava is a labor love. It requires low heat and constant stirring to make it perfectly smooth. Often it is pureed in a blender at the end.
When the fava is ready to serve, the toppings can vary. Thin slices of red onion and a liberal drizzle of Greek olive oil are common. Sometimes it is topped with locally harvested and brined caper berries or caper berry leaves, or a few kalamata olives.
Proud of his fava

Proud of his fava

On our recent trip to Santorini, our most memorable fava dishes were a simple, rustic version with onion, capers, olive oil and a side of lemon at Dimitris in Amoudi, and a light-as-a-cloud creamy fava topped with caper berry leaves and olive oil at Roka in Oia.
Finding real Santorini fava can be difficult and expensive on line, but it is possible. You can easily find dried yellow split peas in local US supermarkets, but it’s not quite the same.
My personal touch–no surprise here–bacon! I finely chop and then fry a small amount of bacon and sauté it with the chopped onion, then add it (with the bacon fat) to the boiling pot of fava and water in the beginning.


Posted: August 26, 2013 in Food, Santorini, travel, Uncategorized
Tags: , ,

santorini1 santorini2 santorini3Back for our third visit on this incredible legendary island. Though many things have changed in the last five years–larger crowds, more humungous tour buses squeezing through very narrow streets, more high-end hotel construction–the essence of the this island, and of the magical town of Oia, where we always stay, (pronounced Ee-yah) has remained intact. The people are as friendly as ever, and more than happy to share their heritage with you.

As I write this, I can hear the jingling of the bells on the donkeys that carry people up the long and steep winding stairway that connects the waterfront town of Amoudi below to the cliffside village of Oia above.

In future posts, I’ll discuss where to go, what to do, where to eat, and what to avoid.

No elevators here. Get your sturdiest walking shoes on and get ready to rock!


The original cucumber soup recipe comes from Ikies Traditional Houses, a wonderful hotel in the beautiful town of Oia in Santorini, Greece. After a long, hot day of exploring this beautiful island, we settled down to a refreshing bowl of cucumber soup. They were nice enough to share the recipe with us, and a few tweaks later, it’s my definition of perfect.

cuke soup




3 English cucumbers or 5 regular cucumbers, peeled, seeded and roughly chopped

1 clove garlic, crushed

1 cup vegetable stock, preferably home made

4 cups plain full- fat yogurt, preferably Fage Greek yogurt

1/2 cup fresh mint leaves

Juice of 1 lemon

Fleur de Sel and pepper


Peel, seed and chop the cucumbers and place in a blender with garlic, stock, 2 cups of the yogurt, mint leaves, lemon juice, 2 teaspoons Fleur de Sel, and a grating of fresh black pepper.

Turn on blender and mix well. Stop blender and then add remaining 2 cups of yogurt and mix by hand.

Pour cucumber soup in bowls. Garnish with diced cucumber or radish.


To make the vegetable stock, boil chopped carrots, celery and onion in a large pot of water for an hour, reducing by half. Strain the veggies before using the stock. You can roast the veggies on a sheet pan in a hot oven for a bit before adding to the water for an even richer flavor.