Thursday 20 April 2017

On the road to Santorini - part 1

Hello everyone, it’s been, let’s say, a long sabbatical. I am back with new ideas to share with you. During this time away from the blog, I did a lot of travelling, cooking and researching. I have evolved on my approach to food and nutrition and I would like the blog to reflect that. That’s why you will be seeing a change here. (If you haven’t been to this page before, please check out my profile to see what Margot’s Kitchen is about). My kitchen still is my starting point but I will also be taking you on my explorations of good food in London and on my travels.

I just came back from Santorini. It is a magical place and it should definitely be considered one of the wonders of the world.  I first visited the island in 1998 and since then many things changed, especially the prohibitive prices.

Unfortunately, I was very disappointed with the restaurants, some were recommended by locals and they were overrated and extremely expensive for the quality of food they were serving. Others were clearly a tourist trap with amazing surroundings and views. April is low season in Santorini and sadly I missed one of the highly recommended places which opens at the end of April. It’s an old tavern, Penelope’s, by the church of Pyrgos, a quaint village, about 10 minutes by car from Fira (the town centre of the island). So on my search for good food, my family and I found a little gem called to psaraki , a restaurant by the old fish port of Vlychada with a gorgeous view of the Aegean sea and the fishing harbour. It was by far the best food we had. The chef’s philosophy is to create simple and unpretentious Greek food with seasonality and sustainability in mind. My kind of place.

to psaraki taverna
Attention to crunchiest filo cheese rolls with honey sauce in the centre
clockwise, from top: delicious vine leaves, Tzatziki and 
homemade cod roe tarama spread which was fresh, lemony,
tangy and salty. Yumami (couldn't resist ;-))
One of the best falafels I’ve ever had (and I’ve eaten many 
 falafels in my life). Worth going back for everyday
Seafood orzo risotto - with 
juicy crabmeat, prawns, mussels and cockles.To die for
The freshest of sardines stuffed with onions and fresh herbs

Pan grilled bonito in spices and seasonal vegetables

Baklava of the Greek gods. Crispy, crunchy, balanced sweet and nutty.

Best of the rest

On the list of honest and OK food, I would like to mention:
Avocado, a contemporary touch on the old Greek classics. Leonidas the lovely owner is a kind host, his willingness to indulge us makes his restaurant a really pleasant place to go. Very friendly and welcoming waiters.

Moussaka: traditional Greek dish, it didn’t wow us but it ticked the box

Anogi, a small traditional Greek tavern

Feta cheese Saganaki - in crispy pastry leaf with  honey and sesame seed.

Pork shank: A meaty dish which could have easily 
been shared by two.
I love my travels and the food indulgence that comes with it. But I am also all for gut health and the Santorinians have an authentic, hearty and nutritious recipe which will make our microbiota happy for it (see a healthy note at the bottom of the page).
The Greeks call it Fava, yellow split peas, puree. It’s basically something between a hummus and a yellow dahl - with a small twist. In the traditional Greek recipe the split peas are cooked with onion salt and pepper and served with olive oil. There are many variations in which garlic, oregano and bay leaf are added to the mixture and after pureed (or left chunky). It is served with capers, raw onions, kalamata olives, olive oil and or paprika. 

Some beans growing on a volcanic land

Dried fava (yellow split peas)

It is usually served at room temperature as a meze, it is delicious served with warm pitta bread. It is also served as an appetizer before a fish dish.

My take on Santorini Fava

Recipe and Method

Rinse 1 cup of split peas in cold water. Place them in a saucepan with 4 cups of water,1 medium size red onion (peeled and sliced), 2 cloves of garlic, 1 bay leaf, salt and pepper.

Bring to the boil, remove foam with a slotted spoon and let it simmer for 35-45 minutes over low heat until the split peas become mushy. 

Take the pan off the heat and let it rest for about 10 minutes. Remove the bay leaf and pour in a juice of 1 lemon. 

Use an immersion blender to puree the mixture. You can leave it a bit chunky if you prefer.

Mix, until the peas become smooth and creamy.

Serve it with spring onions, capers and a generous drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. 

Kalí óreksi! 

Till next week!

A healthy note: Yellow split peas contains starch that is resistant to digestion. It passes into the large intestine where great part of it is used as a food source by the good bacteria living in our colon - the microbiome. I have already posted the benefits of broad beans here which have a very similar nutritional value to yellow split peas. I have also posted an article on health gut featuring onions here. If you would like to understand more about gut health and human microbiome you can check out The British gut project or The Gut Health Specialist, Dr Megan Rossi .


  1. I missed Margot's witty, hip and so relevant writing. I love it. Off to buy some yellow split peas. I'm delighted you are back my darling!!

    1. Dearest Adriana, what a lovely and supportive message. It means a lot to me. I am so glad I encouraged you to try the Fava recipe. I hope you like it. Let me know how it turned out xx

  2. Yeah!!!!! Ela está de volta. Oba! Adorei, Margozinha querida!

  3. Obrigada querida!!! Demorei mas agora eu voltei pra ficar, pelo menos por um bom tempo. Beijos imensos


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