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Santori Fava: Recipe Upgrade

Recipe Upgrade is a new series where I travel the world, eat the traditional foods; and like a true Ugly American: make them better. I’m not imprisoned by tradition or modesty, so, this won’t be Grandma’s recipe; this’ll be what you wish Grandma made. 

I was in Santorini, Greece last week, and it’s easily as beautiful as any photo I’d ever seen of the place. Two of the island’s most famous dishes were vegetarian: Fava and Tomato Croquettes. The Tomato balls were awesome, but there was something weird going on with the Fava. Much to my disappointment, there are no fava beans in fava; it’s made from yellow split peas, and served as a side dish. Think of it as a mashed potato substitute, or the starch of the meal. Anyway, it tasted like boring, dried out split pea soup, and that was consistent with every meal. I had the notion that fava would be a hell of a lot better if I made it with….fava. I was right. 


1 head of garlic

1/3 C olive oil

2 shallots, diced


1 C split fava beans (you can find them at a Middle Eastern grocery store, Amazon, or a fancy supermarket)

3 C water

1 bay leaf

¼ C green olives, plus more for garnishing

Juice of 1 large lemon

2 slices of toast (trust me, this makes the texture awesome)

2 T oregano

1 T turmeric

1 T smoked paprika

½ t cumin

1 T capers


  1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Slice the head of garlic in half across the equator (widthwise), dab the garlic with a drop of olive oil, put it back together, wrap in aluminum foil, and roast for 1 hour.

  2. Meanwhile, Pour the olive oil into a medium saucepan, over medium heat. Add the shallots and a punch of salt. Cook for 5 minutes. Add the split fava and fry that with the shallots for 2 minutes. Add the water and the bay leaf. cover the pot, bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook for 1 hour. Remove the leaf.

  3. Transfer the beans (any any cooking liquid left) to the bowl of a large food processor. Squeeze the roasted garlic into the processor bowl. Add the olives, lemon juice, toast (break it up into pieces), oregano, turmeric, paprika, and cumin. Process that until it’s a smooth puree. Check for seasoning and adjust.

  4. Garnish with olives and capers and serve as a side dish or appetizer along with some good bread. Drink a Santorini dry white wine with it. 

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© 2018 Eddie McNamara