In Crete, as elsewhere in Greece, ''fava'' is a dish of stewed yellow lentils, not fava beans at all—but favas, fresh or dried (and usually smaller than those found in the United States), are another popular Cretan vegetable, especially in soups and stews. Variations on this recipe are found all over the island, often calling for the addition of herbs or spices, such as mint or cinnamon.
Yield: serves 4-6
- 1 lb. dried fava beans, soaked overnight
- <sup>1</sup>⁄<sub>2</sub> cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 large red onion, peeled and finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
- 3 ripe plum tomatoes, cored and chopped
- 1 bay leaf
- <sup>1</sup>⁄<sub>2</sub> bunch fresh mint, leaves chopped, or 1 tbsp. dried mint (optional)
- 1-2 tbsp. red wine vinegar
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Drain and rinse beans. Using a sharp paring knife, cut out black ''eye'' from each bean and discard. Put beans in a heavy deep medium pot, cover with cold water by 2'', and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook for 10 minutes, then drain beans in a colander.
- Dry pot with paper towels. Add 1⁄4 cup of the oil to the pot and heat over medium heat. Add onions and cook until soft, about 10 minutes. Add garlic and tomatoes and cook until garlic is fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add bay leaf, beans, and enough cold water to cover beans by 1''. Increase heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and maintain a very slow simmer. Partially cover pot, and cook, stirring occasionally, until beans are very tender and liquid is thick, about 1 1⁄2 hours. Add mint (if using) and vinegar, then season to taste with salt and pepper and cook for a few minutes more. Add remaining 1⁄4 cup of oil just before serving.
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