Take a look at the photo. What is this? Is it a pizza, is it a pie, a focaccia, a flatbread? What the heck is it?
Allow me to enlighten you, my friends! It is called Ladenia or Ladopita (lado=olive oil + pita=pie) and it is a traditional recipe coming right from the beautiful island of Kimolos. A thinly spread out dough, topped with onions, tomatoes and olive oil. Actually, a lot of olive oil. HealthY food guys, healthy food!
Simple enough for your taste? No dairy or fancy topping with hard to find ingredients? You bet! This recipe is the quintessence of the Mediterranean cuisine. It is a peasant ingredient-based recipe coming down to this equation: food provided by nature like wheat (dough), seasonal veggies (tomato, onion) and olive oil plus cooking skills/ability to combine and enhance the taste of those natural ingredients equals the Mediterranean way of eating and living. As simple as that!
Some call this recipe “the Greek pizza” and promote it as a tasteful, healthier and the totally vegan answer to the Italian pizza. Others regard this recipe as a focaccia. In my humble opinion, Ladenia is unique in its own way: a mix of a vegan Italian pizza and focaccia. I know it sounds too basic to even be a recipe. Let me tell you this. The taste of this is out of this world and I dare the non-believers to make it.
This is a perfect recipe to feed a hungry crowd either it is your family or a gathering, a birthday party full of kids waiting for the crappy food usually served at parties. Moreover, you may use half the dough and leave the rest in the fridge for another day (up to 3 days) or freeze it for future use. You know for the big ball game or for a home night movie. However, this olive oil flatbread is my favorite savory road trip food along with this sweet treat. It could be a great breakfast too.
The traditional recipe calls for only onion and tomato as the topping but you may add whatever you want. Oregano is the usual perfect addition either over the topping or in the dough and, honestly, the combinations are endless. Olives, peppers, artichokes, anchovies, cheese, whatever you like.
I have to admit that this recipe is seasonal, at least in my family menu. The secret for this delicious olive oil flatbread is tomatoes and we all know that they are outrageously sweet, juicy, meaty and burst with flavor throughout the summer. If you are lucky (and wise) enough to visit the Greek islands of Santorini, Kimolos, and Milos, you have to try the local tomatoes. The dry and sandy soil enhances the taste of local tomato produce resulting into the sweetest tomato you’ve ever tasted.
#1 Cooking alert!!! Too much liquid from tomatoes and onions will make our flatbread soggy beyond belief. So, the only important tip to follow is to remove the vegetables’ water following the instructions below.
#2 You don’t have to enroll the dough to perfection. Use only your hands either to shape it on a parchment paper like I did or on a greased round 13-inch/35cm or 15-inch/38cm long baking pan or sheet.
#3 You may use all-purpose flour, hard flour or whole wheat flour in any combination you like. It will work just fine.
- FOR THE DOUGH
- 500g (4 cups) all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon (9g) active dry yeast
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- ½ teaspoon sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 + ¼ cups lukewarm water (more or less)
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- FOR THE TOPPING
- 5 large tomatoes, seeds removed and sliced
- 3 large onions, thinly sliced
- ½ cup (120ml) olive oil
- Kosher salt and pepper
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano (optional)
- Fresh basil, oregano and arugula for topping (optional)
- In the bowl of a large food processor fitted with a dough blade or a large bowl, dissolve yeast in 3 tablespoons of lukewarm water. Wait 5 minutes until foamy. Add flour, salt, sugar, olive oil, oregano (optional) and the rest of lukewarm water.
- Knead the dough about 15 minutes by hand and 5 minutes in the food processor until soft, elastic and easily pull away from the sides of the bowl. If the dough is too wet, add some flour, if too crumbly, add water. Cover and let rise until doubled, about ½ hour.
- Meanwhile, place the sliced onions in a colander, season with salt and let them drain out at least 15 minutes. Slice the tomatoes, remove seeds and excessive liquid and place in another colander for the same reason.
- Preheat the oven to 392°F (200°C). Grease a round 13-inch/35cm or 15inch/38cm long baking pan or sheet with olive oil. Alternatively, use parchment paper. Place the dough in the pan/sheet/parchment paper. Just use your fingers to spread it. No additional flour is needed. If the dough is sticky, add some olive oil.
- Evenly spread onions and tomatoes over the dough. Season with salt, pepper, and oregano (optional). Pour evenly the olive oil. Bake about an hour until golden and onions begin to caramelize. If necessary, reduce heat to 356°F (180°C). Remove from the oven, let sit for 5 minutes before slicing. Top with fresh basil, oregano and arugula (optional). Serve it hot but even better enjoy cold the following day.