What works in Greece does not work for me here in my New England kitchen. The yellow lentils I buy do not contain a summer’s worth of sunlight in each bite as do the greek. Our pale lemons are stingy with their vapid juice. I have cooked the lentils in carrots (an old trick I learned in Israel to flavour garbanzos) to add depth. There is also the addition of a splash of orange juice to bring the flavours closer to the island lemons I am used to tasting.
If my island were a pallette of paint cans, laid on a dusty shelf in a hardware store, their soft glow would draw customers from all departments.
People would absently crumble their lists as they gazed at Goat-bell yellow and Retsina gold.
Baskets filled with hammers and nails would fall to the floor as busy men forgot their projects and stared longingly at shades of Spring Rain green and Sea Urchin mauve.
Women would slip off their shoes and stand soft footed on the cold cement, as they contemplated Almond Blossom pink and Sea-glass blue.
Hairpins would fall like pine needles in front of the Meltemi Grey.
At the sight of Widow’s black, a wild yearning would rise in them. A yearning to feel polished stones beneath their feet, to walk the sea road and taste the dust that rises with each foot fall.
They would note how the drips of Dawn white tinted to rose at sun-set, lavender at dusk and finally shaded to an indigo night sky that sparkled with all the lights of the Peloponnese.
Fava spread is nothing more than a puree of yellow lentils topped with diced sharp red onion.
― Nikos Kazantzakis, Zorba the Greek
Mashed yellow lentils topped with red onion and a generous splash of olive oil make a wonderful appetizer. Fava was meant to be shared with a friend. A loaf of crusty bread, a bowl of faba and a bottle of retsina makes for a romantic lunch.
- 1 1/2 cup yellow lentils or yellow split-peas
- 3 -4 cups water
- 1/4 cup yellow onion cut in 2 -3 large chunks
- 1/2 cup carrot in 2-3 pieces
- 2 tbsp basic olive oil
- 2 tsp oregano
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 pinch turmeric for color if needed
- 1/4 cup fine olive oil garnish
- 1/2 cup finely chopped red onion for garnish
- 1 lemon
- 1/2 orange
- 4 slices rustic bread
- salt to taste
Simmer lentils on low with water, oregano, turmeric, carrot, yellow onion, salt, mashed garlic cloves, oregano and turmeric, till ridiculously mushy.
Keep adding water as necessary. You want a porridge like texture. Mine took 1 1/2 hours.
Remove from the heat. Fish out the carrot and onion. It is okay if a bit of carrot remains it will add color.
Mash in pot with a spoon or in food processor until it still retains a shadow of split pea shapes but is mainly mash (like a well cooked oatmeal porridge).
Scoop into shallow bowl, squeeze lemon and orange over the top, splash on a mediterranean amount of golden olive oil, a little salt, a little pepper and you are ready to dive in.
Serve room temperature.
The book in photos #1 #2 and #3 is Greek Style by Suzanne Slesin