A Dish that is Santorini

When most greeks when they hear Santorini, think of the historic island of Greece, that one of the biggest volcanic eruptions recorded in human history. The one that destroyed the Minoan civilization. On the other hand, foreigners that hear Santorini, think of the island of the sun, the fun, the girls, the weather the sunset. Especially the last one was voted, as the best sunset on the world. One of the characteristics of the island, however, is the very dry and hot climate during the summer time. 

It really does not give much of liberty in what you can grow. Nowadays, the modern farming technics made possible the cultivation of almost all Mediterranean products, in quantities that make the island sustainable. However, the most popular products are those that adaptive immediately to the soil and climate of the island and the only addition need was the care of the farmer. Those products are the yellow split peas, a kind of small but very sweet tomatoes, onions and the capers that is actually a native plant growing at the hill sides.

The common denominator for all those plants are the cold and wet winter and hot and dry sun. To take advantage of this island ‘s this peculiar characteristic, this recipe, is marrying all the aforementioned ingredients, under the umbrella of the universal binder of the greek cooking.  OLIVE OIL. Before we get to the cooking let ‘s see with the help of wikipedia the main ingredient of the soup that is… The yellow split pea. Split peas are the dried peeled and split seeds of Pisum sativum. They come in yellow and green varieties. They have been mechanically split so that they will cook faster. Yellow split peas are sometimes wrongly referred to as a synonym for the Indian toor dal (split pigeon peas) or chana dal (split yellow gram, chickpeas or garbanzo beans); while all commonly known as peas the latter are from other legume species.

For the cooking portion of the blog, we will start with the traditional, picture and the ingredients.
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We will need:

  • 2 cup of yellow split peas (yeah I know… I just showed half of the ingredients here)
  • 2 small onions
  • Pickled capers
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • salt
  • and water (depends on the split peas usually 3-4 cups per cup of split peas)

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Start by washing the peas. Depending on the quality and the freshness you might get the husk of those peas, with them. Don ‘t worry it floats on the top where you can fish it out or…

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Tilt the bowl in an angle, and let the water flow, as shown in the picture. That will auto-skim the floaters. Let it there until the water runs clear. Try to avoid that dust, in the yellow split peas. It will heavily foam while you cook it and it even might overflow the pot.

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When the water is clear you are good to go.

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Roughly chop the onions.

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Add olive oil in the pan. About 2-3 tbsp but you can add more.

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Add the onion in the pot and…

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add salt. And brown the onion.

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Add the washed peas, and stir them to nicely coat them with oil. Don ‘t brown them or cook them just oil them nicely.

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You might get a green pea here and there, but  no worries!!!

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Add the water and bring to a boil.

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And let it simmer. All the oil that was not used to coat the peas, will just float on the top.

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There it will help to reduce the foaming and collect the dust that was not washed off. With a spoon skim it of.

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It is nice to add a bay leaf, but it is completely optional.

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Peas to peas are different. You might need to add more water, or less. So just start with 2 cups per cup of peas and gradually add more. When the peas start falling apart, it will become thick and it while boiling, the bubbles will be breaking and splash hot thick liquid around. so be careful. At this stage I like to add the stick blender and smooth it a little to make it more silky.

Once done, Cut some more of the onion, and capers and put them on the top. Drizzle with olive oil and garnish with tomatoes. The tomatoes I used are the small cherry tomatoes, since they are also very sweet matching the original Santorinian tomato.

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My dad used to say that you need a lot of oil to the peas to make them tasty. The old days this king of the pantry, was a great way to get vitamins and proteins, and with the right addition of fat, you could make it to the best and most nutritious meal of these years. I hope it will became a part of your current diet as well. Revive a legend, while traveling to the island of Santorini.

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