Santorini Fava, a tasty nutrition treasure

Santorini is undoubtedly one of the most popular getaway destinations worldwide and the most visited of all the Greek islands. What makes this island unique except its incomparable beauty, enchanting views, picturesque alleys, and mind-blowing sunsets? It is the island’s fertile volcanic soil that nurtures the local agricultural products, endowing them with an exquisite taste and unbeatable quality.

Fava appetizer by the chef Tasos Ntoumas , Lefkes - Photo by Lefkes Santorini
Fava appetizer by the chef Tasos Ntoumas , Lefkes – Photo by Lefkes Santorini

Fava, a Greek meze and a Santorini deli

Santorini’s cuisine is defined by small dishes with ingredients indissolubly linked to the Mediterranean diet. What you must taste and trust me, you will never forget, is the original Santorinian fava. The word ‘fava’ derives from the Latin word ‘favus’ which translates as “pleasant”. A specific species of Fava is growing only on the island of Santorini and due to its nutritional quality and flavor, it has gained high monetary value. Greek people indeed love appetizers (‘mezes’ in Greek) and fava is one of their favorites. It is perfectly accompanied by sautéed capers making this meze a signature dish not only at Santorini but all over the Cyclades.

Which is the origin of Santorini Fava?

But wait a minute! Did I explain what exactly is fava or I got too hungry only just thinking of it and forgot mentioning its origin?

Fava is made from the plant “Lathyrus Clymenum”, a local variety of yellow pea. Its size is no bigger than a grain of thick sand. It is worldwide known for its high nutritional value and is cultivated in Santorini for 3,500 years, according to findings in the prehistoric settlement of Akrotiri.

How is Santorini Fava served?

It is almost impossible to visit a traditional restaurant in Santorini or a fancy restaurant in Greece combining tradition and modernity on its flavors, and not to find on the menu a fava appetizer. Note that fava can be served in various ways, depending on the time of year and the inspiration of the chef. 😛 The summertime is being cooked with red tomato sauce and is called ‘padremeni’ which means married in Greece whereas, during the wintertime, fava perfectly pairs with smoked pork. I could say that the commonly served version is paired with onion, capers, and virgin olive oil, but get ready to be surprised with all the alternative ways of serving! You may find fava with mushrooms, parsley oil, paprika oil, and fresh oregano, or even ice cream!

How Fava benefits our nutrition?

I couldn’t leave without saying that recently many researches have focused and highlighted the importance of fava to the cardiovascular and gastrointestinal systems as well as that fava can be considered as a helping factor to control body weight!

Well then, do you feel like you can eat as much fava as you like without feeling guilty? I quote the words of a great ancient Greek philosopher, Aristotle, who said “Pan Metron Ariston”/ “Παν μέτρον άριστον”, which means “Everything in moderation”. Thus, while in Santorini everything must be in moderation since you can not even imagine how many delicious temptations you will encounter!

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