Ladenia, a Greek vegan tomato and onion flatbread
Λαδένια. We are so happy to introduce you to what is probably one of our favourite summer meals. Ladenia (pronounced with the emphasis on the second syllable) is a recipe that brings us way, way back, and very far away. This was a recipe that our grandmother often made during our summer stays in Greece, and it was always such fun to sit around her wooden, rickety kitchen table and watch as she cut it into slices. Our eager hands and hungry bellies eyed each piece, carefully assessing them to see which was the largest, and which had slightly more toppings.
As far as village food goes, nothing beats ladenia. It is a traditional Greek flatbread or focaccia; a precursor perhaps to pizza. It is characterized by simple toppings which are usually nothing more than tomatoes, onions and olive oil – all ingredients that grow beautifully in home gardens. Even the most humble home could usually gather the ingredients needed to make ladenia, making it the perfect rustic Greek flatbread. There is nothing that beats the flavour of food like this, expect perhaps eating it in Yiayia’s kitchen.
Although our family is from Messinia, in the Peloponnese region of Greece, ladenia is actually a recipe that comes from the Cyclades – a group of islands in the Aegean sea. Specifically, the island of Kimolos is known for ladenia, although the simplicity of this vegan Greek recipe has made it a popular choice no matter where you are.
How to make ladenia, Greek flatbread
You will need very few ingredients, and probably things you already have in your kitchen.
For the dough you will need:
- Flour All purpose flour is what we typically use. This is the flour we usually always have on hand and it works really well in ths recipe.
- Olive oil Greek extra virgin olive oil is what we always use.
- Sugar A little bit of sugar is needed to help activate the yeast. You can replace the sugar with honey if you prefer.
- Yeast We use active dry yeast
- Salt A bit of salt in dough is needed to bring out the flavours in your ladenia
- Water Lukewarm water is what you need to help activate the yeast, not too hot, and not cold.
For the toppings you will need:
- Tomatoes The reason ladenia is such a great summer meal is because of the vine-ripened garden tomatoes you can hopefully get your hands on! If your tomatoes are super juicy, squeeze out the excess liquids and seeds.
- Red onions Red onions are preferred but you can use other onions if you like.
- Olive oil Again, Greek extra virgin olive oil is always our preference.
- Oregano Dry Greek oregano has a fragrance and flavour that is unbeatable.
- Sugar A touch of sugar helps cut the acidity of the tomatoes – you can omit if if you prefer
- Salt & Pepper Season to taste!
Looking for more rustic Greek meals? Check these out:
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Ladenia: Greek flatbread
For the dough:
- 1 cup warm water
- 2 tsps active dry yeast
- 1 tsp sugar
- 3 cups all purpose flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/4 cup Greek olive oil
For the topping:
- 1 large red onion, thinly sliced
- 2 medium size ripe (but not watery) tomatoes, (slice them into thick slivers)
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp pepper
- 1 tbsp dried Greek oregano
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1/4 cup Greek olive oil + 2 tablespoons (for the pan)
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the warm water, the yeast and the sugar. Let stand for 5-10 minutes, until you see bubbles forming.1 cup warm water, 2 tsps active dry yeast, 1 tsp sugar
- Add the flour, 1/4 cup of the olive oil, and the salt. Mix on low speed using the dough hook attachment of your stand mixer for a few minutes until the dough is smooth. It will be a little sticky; this is normal.3 cups all purpose flour, 1 tsp salt, 1/4 cup Greek olive oil
- Remove the dough from the bowl and shape it into a ball. Transfer your dough to a bowl that you have brushed with olive oil.
- Cover the dough with plastic wrap and place it in a warm, draft free location for approximately 1 hour, until it has doubled in size.
- Spread 2 tablespoons of olive oil onto the bottom of your baking pan. Punch the dough down a bit, and transfer it to the baking pan. Using your fingers, stretch it into a rectangle; it doesn't have to be perfect. Keep stretching until you've covered most of the bottom of the pan.
- Cover the dough loosely with plastic wrap, place in a warm draft-free location and let it rise again for another 20 minutes.
- Preheat your oven to 400°F.
- In a bowl, combine your sliced red onions, the slivered red tomatoes, the olive oil, salt, pepper, sugar and oregano. Stir carefully to combine.1 large red onion, thinly sliced, 2 medium size ripe (but not watery) tomatoes,, 1 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp pepper, 1 tbsp dried Greek oregano, 1 tsp sugar, 1/4 cup Greek olive oil + 2 tablespoons (for the pan)
- Spread all the vegetables over the dough in the baking pan, keeping most of the liquid behind in the bowl. Discard liquid, or dip some bread in it, and enjoy.
- Bake in the middle rack of your oven for 40-45 minutes, or until the underside of your dough and the edges are golden brown, and the vegetables have caramelized.
- Remove from the oven, and let your ladenia sit for 5-10 minutes to cool. Transfer it to a wire rack to allow it to cool for another few minutes, before serving. Enjoy!