Do you miss summer as much as I do?
Spending summer in Greece is something I cannot easily describe. Summer in Greece is bright, colorful and offers incredible treasures. Mine treasures in their majority include greek summer dishes, since my greek summer dives into a sea of flavours and aromas. During a relaxing day on the beach I always have in mind what I will eat after leaving the beach or even better on a greek traditional taverna on the beach. There are so many delicious dishes for a meal with the view of the sea, accompanied always with ouzo. And when the moment comes that I have to choose what to eat..a beautiful nightmare begins. I CANNOT CHOOSE. I want them all. Mousaka, gemista, greek salad, Cretan dako salad, just a slice of greek feta cheese, fried zucchini accompanied with tzatziki, fava, shrimp saganaki, lobster pasta, crispy fried squid, fried Anchovies, octopus, crab salad…someone has to stop me.
As you can imagine after thinking all of the above I couldn’t wait for summer to come in order to eat, not all, but some of these beauties. My willing for cooking a greek summer dish has been enhanced by an amazing gift that I have received. What was it? Two greek baskets from the Hellenic Food Basket. Hellenic Food Basket is a company that supplies Greek foods, grown and produced with care by local and small and larger businesses. The producers cultivate the Greek land with ultimate respect and come up with superior-quality products that can make a decisive contribution to a healthy lifestyle.
I have received two baksets, lucky me! One basket had inside pine tree honey and orange blossom honey. The pine tree honey was excelled in the 2017 Great Taste Awards, among thousands of products from all over the world and was awarded with a gold star, for its unique taste and quality. Can you imagine the melomakarona that I will bake? What does melomakarona mean? The melomakarono is an egg-shaped Greek dessert made mainly from flour, olive oil, and honey which along with the kourabies it is a traditional dessert prepared primarily during the Christmas holiday season. I will bake some as soon as possible and post the recipe.
The second basket had inside cycladic oregano, rosemary, extra virgin olive oil, fava Santorini, handmade trahanas and capers Santorini. Oh, Santorini. Have you ever been to Santorini? It is one of the most beautiful islands in Greece and the products cultivated in Santorini is what I call “little drops of heaven”.
The second basket was what I needed; Greek summer in my hands. Without thinking it at all I went to the market and bought an octopus. Octopus and fava is one of my favourite greek summer combinations. Even if you can eat fava without octopus, especially if it is from Santorini, I have choosed to accompany fava with it. Fava is probably the most famous dish from Santorini, since it is delicious, creamy and super tasty.
For making Santorini fava with grilled octopus you will need the following ingredients:
- 1½ kg octopus
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled
- 4 dried bay leaves
- 10 black peppercorns
- 1-2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling over the octopus
- greek dried oregano
- fresh lemon juice
Ingredients for making Santorini fava:
- 250 g yellow split peas
- 1 carrot
- 1 onion, plus extra for drizzling over the fava
- 1,5-1,7 liter boiling water
- 40 ml olive oil
- roasted cherry tomatoes
- salt and ground pepper
STEP 1: Making Santorini fava
Cut the onion and grate the carrot. In a deeply non-stick pot, put the oil in a medium heat and add onion and carrot to sauté gently for 4-5 minutes stirring frequently.
Then add split peas. Sauté the ingredients for 2 minutes and then add 1,2-1,4 lt of the hot water, leaving the rest of the water for later if needed.
Simmer the mixture and stir frequently with an open pot. As time passes and surely after the first twenty minutes, check and stir more regularly to keep the split peas away from the bottom as the amount of water decreases. Add salt and pepper in the process.
When the most of the water is gone check that until the split peas are thick and mushy. Usually this takes about 35-40 minutes. Have in mind that if using bad quality of split peas the needed time will be much more. If the split peas has not melted and the water has been reduced, add hot water in small amounts (per 100 ml) once or more so that it does not dilute until the split peas melt well.
When the split peas have melted and thick, remove it from the heat and by using an immersion blender mix it until the mixture is pureed and smooth. Add, if necessary, salt and pepper.
Serve with roasted cherry tomatoes and onions, drizzle with some extra virgin olive oil, sprinkle with some thyme, freshly ground pepper.
STEP 2: Grill the octopus
Add the octopus in a large pan, put the lid on, and place over a low heat. Allow the octopus to release its juices, it will take around 5 minutes, and then add the garlic cloves, bay leaves and peppercorns, and boil it in its own juices for about 35 minutes, or until the octopus is fork-tender. Remember to turn it around once halfway through cooking.
Check with a fork if the octopus has softened and remove it from the pan. You may cut your octopus tentacles now or after it’s grilled (your choice).
Heat your grill over high heat and once extremely hot, brush with some olive oil. Turn heat down to medium-high and place the octopus on the grill. Cook for around 12 minutes.
Remove from the grill and place on a serving plate. Drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil, a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, a good sprinkle of dried Greek oregano and a little sea salt.
STEP 3: Serve Santorini fava with octopus
Divide and place fava on plates and top with grilled octopus. Remember to bring on the table some ouzo and put some greek music on.
Do you feel that summer is closer? I really felt it and of course enjoyed my meal.