Fava Skordalia

Yellow Split Peas with Garlic

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THIS VERSATILE variation on the traditional garlicky dip, which comes from Cyprus, uses yellow split peas instead of the usual potatoes. It can be served as a dip, spread on crudités or Savory Barley and Wheat Biscuits or used as a sauce for fried or grilled fish, poultry or meat, steamed or grilled vegetables or even pasta.

Instead of yellow split peas, you can also make this with dried peeled fava beans or with the same amount of cooked mashed chickpeas or white beans, such as cannellini.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups yellow split peas, picked over and rinsed
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 4–6 garlic cloves
  • ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3–4 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 3–4 tablespoons dry white wine
  • 2 tablespoons dried oregano, crumbled, plus more for garnish
  • freshly ground black pepper

All or a few of the following Toppings

  • 1 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2–3 tablespoons pitted and chopped Kalamata olives
  • 4–5 oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained and coarsely chopped
  • 1 medium tomato, cored, peeled, seeded, diced and drained
  • 2–3 green garlic bulbs or ramps (white plus most of the green parts), thinly sliced
  • A few sprigs of arugula, coarsely chopped
  • A few sprigs of purslane or fresh flat-leaf parsley, coarsely chopped
  • Extra-virgin olive oil

Method

Place the split peas in a large pot, add water to cover by 4 inches and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, skimming often, for 5 minutes. Add the bay leaves and simmer for 40 minutes more, stirring occasionally and adding a little warm water as needed to keep the peas covered as they cook. Add 1 teaspoon of the salt and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes more, or until the peas are soft and almost dry.

Puree the peas with a stick (immersion) blender, or transfer to a food processor and puree. Let the puree cool completely; it will thicken considerably.

In a large mortar, grind the garlic with the remaining 1 teaspoon salt into a smooth paste. Add 2 cups or so of the puree and continue grinding to incorporate the garlic. Or use a blender or a small food processor.

In a large bowl, combine the garlic mixture, the remaining pea puree, the oil, 3 tablespoons each vinegar and wine, the oregano and pepper to taste, stirring vigorously to incorporate. Taste and adjust the seasonings as necessary. Cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours, or overnight.

If the skordalia seems too thick, add a little vinegar, wine or water to thin. Spread on a large plate, sprinkle with oregano, garnish with toppings of your choice and serve.

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