Tag Archives: Split peas

Spilling the beans and a Greek Fava puree

There are so many fabulous hummus-like dips around and yet we seem to be stuck in a rut- don’t get me wrong, I love chickpea puréeé but why not give some of the other legumes a go too. I talked about Moroccan Bessara back in May which I made with fava beans but this month I’d love to share this Greek island fava with you. It is rather confusing as traditional fava is not made with what we know as fava (broad beans) but with split yellow peas instead. I was stirred into action with this one when my mother brought me a packet of the split peas back from her recent holiday in Rhodes. You can use any yellow split pea but if you’re after the real thing you could go to the Ergon restaurant and deli in London or buy their beans on line.

Greek split peas

Greek Fava Purée

200 g/7 oz  yellow split peas, rinsed and drained
2 bay leaves
1 small onion, diced
1 tsp salt
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
juice of 1 lemon
freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp capers, rinsed
1 tbsp roughly chopped parsley
A few very finely sliced pieces of red onion.

Place the split peas, bay leaves, the onion and enough cold water to cover everything by a couple of cm in a saucepan. Bring the water up to the boil skimming away any scum or froth.

Now simmer for about 45 minutes, stirring from time to time and, if necessary, adding a little extra water to keep the peas just covered.

Add the salt and continue to simmer until the beans are very tender and almost dry.

Remove the bay leaves and allow the split peas to cool for a few minutes before you puree them with a hand held blender or in a food processor.

Don’t worry, the peas will taste bland and flabby, they will be screaming for seasoning. Add the garlic, extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, freshly ground black pepper and more salt, if required, until you have a wonderfully balanced puree.

Spoon into a bowl and allow to cool completely, letting the flavours get to know each other.

Serve with a sprinkling of capers, the parsley, red onion and a splash of extra virgin oil.

Try topping the fava with any combination of the following:
Chopped fresh oregano, coriander or parsley
A few chopped Kalamata olives,
Diced tomato and a handful of rocket.
A sprinkling of roasted cumin seeds and sweet Aleppo or Urfi chilli flakes

Greek Fava puree

We’re having the fava with a few olives, a tomato salad and some bread for a really healthy light lunch but do try serving it with some charred squid or cuttlefish.

NEWS –  Spilling the Beans: September 10th at The Folk House Café

I met up with cook and nutritionist Lou Marchionne a couple of weeks ago, only to discover that she’s as excited about pulses as I am. Over the years Lou has cooked at so many of Bristol’s most iconic places such as Rocinantes, Bordeaux Quay and now at The Folk House Café on Park Street. So, after lots of excited chat we’ve decided to have a Pulse night on September the 10th at The Folkhouse ……..I’d love you to come along.

We’re planning an hour-ish cooking demo (using recipes from my book Pulse)  followed by a buffet supper of delicious beany dishes – the menu will include chickpea farinata, a zippy Asian style soup, super healthy sprouted bean, fruit and feta salad, a roasted cauliflower, butter bean and wild rice dish and a smokey pork chilli. The idea is to inspire you with the amazing versatility of legumes, Lou will point out their tremendous health benefits along the way and then you’ll get to eat some very tasty food.

The tickets are an absolute bargain at £8.50 (you will have a great supper – plenty for vegans, vegetarians and the resolute carnivores) The bar will be open, so a great time to catch up with friends. The evening will last from 18.30 to around 22.00.

You can buy tickets HERE. Really hope to see you and your friends.

I’ll be selling my book PULSE on the night and matching the Amazon price of £17 (rrp £25) so do bring along a bit of cash (I don’t take cards) if you are planning to buy a book.

PULSE photographs by Clare Winfield






Moroccan Memories and Bessara Soup

I was gathering together some recipes this morning for my moorish salad demo at the wonderful Borough Market and it got me reminiscing and poring over a few pictures from last year’s trip to Tangiers. Pete took some beautiful photographs (I can only claim to be author of half a dozen) and they do set the scene for the unbelievably simple, nutritious and tasty dip/soup that I’m cooking today.

I love the contrast of these first two sets of photographs. First you have the calm, relative coolness of the courtyards and back streets of the casbah and then the bustle of the souk with all it’s smells and vivid colours.

We stayed in a fab little hotel, high in the casbah , looking out over the Straits of Gibraltar – The Tangerina Hotel . The rooftop terrace was a fabulous place to chill and to eat simple and very delicious food. One evening we had a silky smooth bowl of bessara, made with split fava beans or peas –  it’s a classic all over Morocco, often eaten as a breakfast dish and sometimes served a little thicker as a dip with good bread.

I’m making bessara back at home too, it’s real comfort food, just great when you’re yearning for something healthy and nourishing, and I’ve been over indulging rather too much of late (Bristol has been a never ending food fest’ but that’s the next post). My split fava beans (dried broad beans) come from a fabulous British company called Hodmedods who sell our native beans (we’ve exported vast quantities of our fava beans to Egypt and the Middle East for years ). I love to use favas for falafel too. You can find these English beans in lots of health food shops nowadays.

Bessara  – Split fava or split pea soup. (about 6 bowls)

300 g split fava beans or split peas
3 tbsp olive oil
2 0nions, finely diced
2 carrots, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tsp cumin seeds, slightly crushed
1/2 tsp salt or to taste
Juice of 1/2 – 1 lemon
A good swirl of extra virgin olive oil
A good pinch of chilli flakes or smoked hot paprika
A few sprigs of fresh coriander, chopped

It’s a good idea, but not vital, to soak the split beans or peas in plenty cold water for a few hours – you’ll cut the cooking time considerably.

Take a large saucepan and fry off the onion and carrot until soft and beginning to brown and sweeten. Now add the garlic and cumin and fry until you’re enveloped in amazing smells.

Drain the beans and add to the pan, cover with 10 cm of water. Simmer for anything between 30 minutes to an hour until the beans or peas have pretty much collapsed.

Take a stick blender and whizz until smooth. Season with salt and lemon juice.

Serve the soup with a good swirl of extra virgin olive oil, a pinch of chilli or paprika and a sprinkling of fresh of coriander.

Jenny Chandler's fava bean soup

The soup should be velvety , about the thickness of double cream so you may need to add some liquid to loosen the texture.
Bessara can also be left thicker as a dip, rather like hummous or even served as a purée to use as a side dish in a mashed potatoey style.