Split Pea Puree w/ Shiitakes
Fava is what Greeks call yellow split pea puree. It’s a wonderful vegetarian and vegan dish but also a first-class meze. Fava can be a carte blanche, the way Italian polenta is, for almost any topping, from plain raw onions or scallions and capers, to eggplant caponata, to these aromatic very “un-Greek” shitake mushrooms, braised a la Grecque, with red wine and more. You can use other mushrooms as well, of course, fresh or dried. To find Greek dried mushroooms, Greek yellow split peas and a range of Greek olive oils, vinegars and other condiments, go to my online store here.
Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a medium wide pot over low flame and cook a quarter of the chopped onions until soft, about 8 minutes. Add the yellow split peas and tumeric, toss to coat in the oil, and add 3 cups vegetable stock or water or a combination of both. Season to taste with salt. Add the bay leaf. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer until the split peas have absorbed all the liquid and are the consistency of chunky mashed potatoes. Add more liquid to the pot if necessary while the split peas cook. Stir up occasionally to keep from sticking to bottom and burning.
While the fava is simmering, prepare the shiitakes: Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a nonstick skillet and add the remaining chopped onion. Sprinkle with a little salt. Cook the onion over low heat until it caramelizes, turning a deep golden color. Remove the shiitakes from the soaking water and cut into ¼-inch / 60-mm slices. Add the mushrooms to the caramelized onions. Raise the heat a little and add the wine and vinegar. Season to taste with salt and pepper and cook until the juices are reduced and thick. Remove from heat.
When the fava is ready, remove from heat, too. Take an immersion blender or empty the contents of the pot into a food processor and puree, adding the lemon juice and the remaining olive oil. The fava should end up having a velvety, smooth texture.
Serve the fava either warm or at room temperature in a platter with the mushrooms spooned on top.