Greece can be a tricky place to visit as a vegetarian. They are, after all, famous for their lamb gyros and meaty moussaka and grilled fish. So when I visited Greece last year I subsisted chiefly on dips: tzatziki, feta cheese dip, and, my personal favorite, fava. Actually made from yellow split peas (and not fava beans), this dip is incredibly simple and yet somehow I could not stop eating it. I ordered it at every taverna I came across, and it was always delicious: smooth, creamy, and satisfying—especially when served with homemade flatbread. Don't skip out on the toppings; the olive oil, lemon juice, parsley, and raw red onion really liven up the purée. —Catherine Lamb
4 as an appetizer
yellow split peas
red onion; half minced, the other half peeled but left whole
garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
olive oil, plus more for serving (use the nice stuff)
Place split peas in a pot and cover with the water. Bring to a boil and skim off any foam that rises to the surface. Turn down the heat until the mixture bubbles only occasionally, then add the peeled half of the onion, the garlic, and the salt. Cook until split peas are very tender and mushy, just over an hour.
When the peas are beginning to fall apart, turn off the heat, taste, and add more salt if necessary. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and a few turns of black pepper. Use an immersion blender (or tabletop blender) to purée mixture to desired smoothness (I like mine still a little chunky), or just use the back of your spoon if you're feeling lazy. Return to the heat and cook for a minute or two more, until quite thick.
To serve: Spoon the fava onto a plate, top with a generous drizzle of olive oil, the diced red onion, a sprinkle of paprika, chopped parsley, and a few lemon wedges. Provide fresh pita, toasted bread, and/or vegetables for dipping.