Butternut fava

Fava with butternut squash

Fava is a greek dip or appetiser, somewhere between dal and hummus, and two weeks ago I had some at The Olive Grove. I’d forgotten how tasty it was: thick and soft and simple and savoury. So of course I wanted to make some. It’s dead easy, after all – just yellow split peas (not broad beans, ignore the name) boiled with some onion and herbs for flavour. A bit of oil to serve.

Then last week my friend Niall made a rather excellent lentil and squash dip for a party. It was quite rich, a bit sweet, and heavily loaded with smoked paprika.

Butternut fava

What a good idea.

Now, I haven’t just nicked it, despite having morals only fractionally more robust than a carrion crow. But if you can cook and you’ve read the intro, you may not actually need a recipe.

Meh. Here’s a fava recipe anyway.

Butternut favaIngredients:

  • Yellow split peas, 350g
  • Butternut squash, 400g or about half a small one
  • Fresh parsley, about 15g
  • Onion, one small one
  • Garlic, 2-3 cloves
  • Cumin, 1/2 tsp
  • Salt, 1/4 tsp (maybe more to taste)
  • A bay leaf
  • Plenty of olive oil

Makes, like, a lot.


Peel and dice the onion. Peel and chop the garlic. Break most of the stalks off the parsley and chop these finely. Rough chop the rest.

In a saucepan, cover the peas in a bit over a litre of water – plenty to cover, basically – and bring them up to the boil. Skim off any foamy scum that rises, and reduce them to a very low simmer. Add the onion, cumin, bay, salt, and parsley stalks. Stir and let it simmer, covered, for about an hour, maybe a bit more. For the last ten or twenty minutes, remove the lid so that most of the liquid comes off. You could just pour off some of the excess, but I hate the thought of losing any flavour.

While that’s boiling, prepare the squash. Core and peel it, and cut it into chunks. Heat the oven to 180c, and bake the chunks, tossed in a little oil, for 45-50 minutes. Turn them a couple of times while they’re cooking. We want them soft and caramelising a little, expressing that sugar.

Butternut favaWhen the peas are done, and there’s not much liquid left, remove them from the heat and fish out the bay leaf. Add the garlic, the cooked squash, 1tbsp of olive oil, and about 3/4 of the parsley.

Then pulverize it with a stick blender. Get it good and smooth. It’ll probably thicken a little, too.

Let it cool, stir through the remaining parsley, drizzle it with oil before serving, and you’re done.

It’s certainly hearty, although the squash lightens the flavour a little, sneaking in that slight buttery fruitiness. The parsley freshens it up a bit too, and it would absolutely take a good handful of coriander.

Put a sprinkle of chopped red onion on top and serve it with bread as an appetiser. Or top it with something heavier as a main. I’d recommend roasted figs and baby aubergines, though I could almost see sardines. After all, it’s basically pease pudding for people whose pre-school kids can spell ‘antipasti’.

Or, right, you could do what I did and load it up with extra garlic, coriander, and crumbled feta, and use it to fill puff pastry turnovers. No, really. Don’t look like that – I mentioned the morals already.

Interestingly, every recipe I’ve seen for this barring one uses split peas. But if you do want to see it with dried fava beans (broad beans in the UK), there’s one in Phaidon’s comprehensive Greek tome: Vefa’s Kitchen

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