One of my favourite Lent-friendly dishes has to be Ladenia (roughly translated to olive bread) from the island of Kimolos. This is great for a snack, a light meal or cut-up and serve as part of your meze table. Sometimes you want something lighter or you just may want to use the ripe, juicy tomatoes in the summer when they are at their best. (orig. posted July 2008)
Ladenia has a thick crust that’s allowed to rise, then treated with olive oil, followed by a topping of sliced onions and very ripe tomatoes. The finishing touches are coarse sea salt, black pepper and the fabulously pungent dry Greek oregano. Don’t forget the Greek extra-virgin olive on top when the Ladenia just comes out of the oven. That hot dough is going to suck-up that green gold. Flavour!
Laurie of Mediterranean Cooking in Alaska is the lady responsible for bringing Ladenia to my attention and from a brief search on the internet – to several others. Ladenia is enjoyed throughout many islands in the Aegean and you’ll find many on the mainland enjoying their own version of this dish thanks to the many bloggers who have embraced this simple yet delicious bread and they have all placed their own stamp on it.
I’m not going to toy much with this recipe – I’m sticking to the pizza dough, oil, onions, seasonings and herb combo. Simple is best here. Your choosing of quality ingredients will shine through when you taste the finished product.
Some key factors in making a good Ladenia:
- Allow the dough to rise at least a half hour to thicken up. I’m a thin-crust pizza kinda’ guy but thick works best here. The olive oil and juices from the onions and tomatoes will provide ample flavour.
- Choose ripe, not too watery tomatoes. No matter how long you bake (roast) them, a shit tomato will still taste like well, “skata”.
- Use regular olive oil when covering the dough and then drizzle the primo, good extra-virgin olive oil just as the Ladenia comes out of the oven.
- Top off with dried Greek oregano and extra-virgin olive oil as soon as out of the oven.
Eat this as a lighter lunch, make a large Ladenia for a party as offer as an appetizer or snack but do make it. This was a big hit throughout the household – I know it will be in yours too!
(makes 2 medium or 1 large Ladenia)
For the Dough
1 1/2 cups warm water
1/2 tsp. sugar
1/8 cup olive oil
1 1/2 tsp. active dry yeast
1/2 tsp. salt
3 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 large onions, sliced
2 large tomatoes, cut in half then cut into half-moon slices
coarse sea salt
ground black pepper
2 Tbsp. dry Greek oregano
extra-virgin olive oil (for finishing)
Pre-heated 400F oven
- In a large bowl, add your yeast, sugar, and warm water and allow about 7-10 minutes to activate (as evidenced with the bubbling). Now add your salt and olive oil add about 2 cups of flour into the mixture. Keep on adding flour while kneading on a floured work surface until your dough is pliable and no longer sticks to your hands.
- Spread some olive oil on your round baking pan and sprinkle some fine semolina flour. Roll out your pizza dough to the approx. circumference of your pan and allow the dough to rise for about 30 minutes in a warm spot in the home. You may now preheat your oven.
- Pour and evenly spread the olive oil over your dough, followed by spreading out the sliced onions all over area of the Ladenia. Now top with your tomato slices, coarse sea salt, black pepper and dry Greek oregano.
- Bake on the middle rack of your oven for 40-45 minutes until the edges have just browned and the top has a light brown colour.
- Serve hot or cold, as a meal or a snack.
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