I LOVE the simplicity of this wonderful mix of dried peas and greens. When Marios Mourtzis, a well-known Cypriot chef and cooking teacher, offered to prepare this warm salad for me in the large kitchen of his cooking school in Nicosia, I didn’t think it would be anything exceptional. But the clear taste of the chard against the sweet, meaty beans, accented by the sourness of the lemon and the fruitiness of the raw olive oil, made it perfect. A classic Lenten dish, it can also be transformed into a substantial meal with the addition of some pork. Any leftover beans, Marios told me, can be sautéed with onions or garlic the next day.
Serve at the beginning of a meal or as a side dish with grilled meat or fish. The savory juices are delicious, so I like to serve this in bowls with spoons. Although it can be eaten at room temperature, I think that it is one of the few Greek dishes which really is best finished at the last moment and served warm.
Place the peas in a medium saucepan, add cold water to cover by 2 inches and bring to a boil. Cook for 5 minutes; drain. Add fresh water to just cover the peas and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for 20 minutes, or until the peas are tender. Check often and add a little more water if needed.
Add the chard stems and salt to taste and simmer for 4 minutes more. You should have about 1½ cups broth; if you have more, increase the heat briefly to reduce. Add the chard leaves and cook for 2 minutes more, or until wilted. Add the lemon juice, stir and remove from the heat. Drizzle with oil and sprinkle with pepper to taste. Taste to adjust the seasonings.
Serve warm in bowls, sprinkled with the oregano, if desired.
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