Fava is a puree or spread made from yellow split peas, not Fava Beans (Dried Broad Beans). The naming of these Mediterranean dishes is a mine field! A puree made from dried Broad Beans is known as koukofava.
There are many versions of Fava, some with cumin and sumac, but this one is made from split peas which are topped with capers and caramelised onion, eaten warm and served as a starter dip. Ottolenghi, whose recipe this is, says the dish is soothing yet exciting. It is indeed. It is a delight to see Ottolenghi use white pepper in several of his recipes – a rare thing these days but an exquisite taste.
3 large onions, peeled
300g yellow split peas
2 bay leaves
0.25 tspn ground turmeric
100ml olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 Tblspn lemon juice
35g capers, roughly chopped
10g chives, finely chopped
sea salt and white pepper
Cut one of the onions in quarters and place in a medium saucepan with the split peas, bay leaves and turmeric. Cover generously with water, bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Cook for 50 – 60 mins until the split peas are soft but holding their shape. Add more water as they cook, if necessary.
Strain the split peas, keeping the cooking water. Discard the bay leaves but retain the onion. Leave to cool a little.
Meanwhile, slice the remaining onions in 0.5 cm slices. Cook the onions in 1 Tblspn oil for 15 – 20 mins until golden brown, sweet and caramelised. Remove from the heat and set aside.
Remove 100g of the split peas and set aside. Blend the rest with the garlic, lemon juice, remaining olive oil, sea salt, a pinch of white pepper and 3 Tblspn of the cooking water. Blitz until almost smooth. Taste and adjust salt, lemon juice and garlic if needed. Then fold through the reserved split peas, half of the chives and half of the caramelised onions.
Place the Fava in a shallow bowl and smooth the top into a swirl. Top with the rest of the onions, the capers and the remaining chives, and finish with a drizzle of olive oil.
recipe notes and alternatives
Channa Dal can be used in place of the split peas. The smaller dried fava beans are also a good substitute.