Take a look at the photo. What is this? Is it a pizza, is it a pie, a focaccia, or 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 Greek Vegan Olive Oil Flatbread coming right from the beautiful island of Kimolos. A thinly spread-out dough, topped with onions, tomatoes, and a generous drizzle of extra virgin Greek olive oil. Actually, a lot of olive oil. The Greek way!
Simple enough for your taste? Neither dairy nor 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!
WHAT IS LADENIA?
Ladenia is a mouthwatering soft flatbread topped with a medley of flavorful ingredients. Imagine a light and fluffy base adorned with juicy tomato slices, aromatic onions, and a generous drizzle of extra virgin Greek olive oil.
Some call this vegan flatbread “the Greek pizza” and promote it as a tasteful, healthier, and totally vegan answer to 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, the Greek way. 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.
GREEK OLIVE OIL FLATBREAD: THE INGREDIENTS
The traditional recipe calls for only three ingredients for topping: onion, tomato, and olive oil as topping. From there you can 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 (like feta cheese crumbles), whatever you like. UNLESS you want to eat it the old way meaning the triple ingredient combo (onion tomato and olive oil). It's your game.
I have to admit that this recipe is seasonal, at least on my family's 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 in the sweetest tomatoes you’ve ever tasted.
THE HISTORY BEHIND THE RECIPE
Not interested in food history and you are here only for the recipe? No problem! Jump to Recipe
The rest of you keep on reading about the historical background of this vegan flatbread.
Kimolos, located in the Aegean Sea in Greece, has a rich food history influenced by its geographical location and cultural interactions throughout the centuries. It offers a blend of ancient, Venetian, and Ottoman influences in its culinary delicacies.
During the Venetian occupation from the 13th to the 16th century, Kimolos became an important trading center. The Venetians introduced new ingredients and culinary techniques to the island, leaving a lasting impact on its food culture with ladenia. The similarity of the olive oil flatbread to the Italian pizza is more than obvious.
In the 16th century, the Ottomans occupied Kimolos. Ottoman cuisine brought its own culinary traditions and ingredients to the island. The Ottomans introduced spices, herbs, and cooking methods that influenced the local cuisine as well.
Nowadays, Kimolos offers a blend of ancient Greek, Venetian, and Ottoman influences in its culinary offerings. It remains a destination where visitors can explore the island's rich food history and enjoy its unique flavors and traditional dishes like "ladenia".
GREEK LADENIA: THE RECIPE
It's an easy and straightforward recipe. Furthermore, I assure you that you won't need special skills to roll the dough. I usually use my hands. It takes about half an hour for the dough to double its size because I make this flatbread in summer and room temperature is usually high enough.
Let's drive you through the basic steps of the recipe.
Prepare the dough and set aside to double its size. You may use all-purpose flour, hard (bread) flour, or whole wheat flour in any combination you like. It will work just fine.
Prepare the tomato/onions.
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 tomato's seeds and place the sliced tomatoes and onion in a colander with a pinch of salt to drain moisture as long as the dough rises.
You don’t have to enroll the dough to perfection. Use only your hands either to shape it on parchment paper (like in photos) or on a greased round 13-inch (35cm) or 15-inch (38cm) baking pan or dish or sheet. Basically, you can place it in every kind and shape of baking dish/pan.
It would also be convenient to make individual flatbreads for a potluck, picnic, BBQ party, or any occasion that requires finger food.
Assemble and bake.
MY VEGAN OLIVE OIL FLATBREAD IS READY! NOW WHAT?
This is a perfect recipe to feed a hungry crowd whether it is your family or a gathering, a birthday party full of kids waiting for the crappy, highly-processed food usually served. I would highly recommend serving this flatbread for BBQs, backyard gatherings, picnics, potlucks, or any formal or casual dinner party.
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.
Whether enjoyed for breakfast, as a light lunch, or as part of a mezze feast, Ladenia is a versatile delicacy that pleases everyone.
MORE RECIPES WITH SUMMER PRODUCE
Traditional Greek cuisine is famous for fresh and flavorful ingredients, particularly during the summer when an abundance of produce is available. Here's my selection of traditional Greek dishes that celebrate summer produce:
A staple of Greek cuisine, this refreshing salad showcases the flavors of ripe tomatoes, crisp cucumbers, bell peppers, red onions, Kalamata olives, and creamy feta cheese. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, and sprinkle with dried oregano.
Made with thick Greek yogurt, grated cucumbers, garlic, and fresh dill, tzatziki is a cooling and tangy dip. It pairs well with grilled meats, and pita bread, or can be enjoyed as a refreshing side dish on its own.
This popular Greek pie features layers of flaky phyllo dough filled with a mixture of spinach, feta cheese, onions, and herbs. It can be served as an appetizer, a side dish, or a light meal with a side of Greek salad.
Gemista refers to stuffed vegetables, typically tomatoes and bell peppers, filled with a flavorful mixture of rice, onions, herbs, and sometimes ground meat. Baked until tender, gemista is a delicious and wholesome summer dish.
Briami is a Greek-style roasted vegetable medley that brings together seasonal vegetables such as zucchini, eggplant, bell peppers, tomatoes, onions, and potatoes. The vegetables are tossed in olive oil, seasoned with herbs like oregano and thyme, and then baked until caramelized and tender.
This smoky eggplant dip is a delightful addition to any Greek meal. Roasted eggplants are blended with vinegar, olive oil, and a touch of parsley. It can be enjoyed with warm pita bread or as a side to grilled meats.
Tomato fritters, also known as tomatokeftedes, are a popular dish from the Greek island of Santorini. They are a delicious vegetarian option that showcases the vibrant flavors of ripe tomatoes during the summer season.
If you make this recipe, you have to let me know! I absolutely love your feedback. This is a huge motivation for me and it keeps 30daysofgreekfood’s kitchen alive. Bookmark this recipe and leave your rate and comment below, or take a photo with your Greek Vegan Olive Oil Flatbread and tag me on Instagram with #30daysofgreekfood and Facebook with @30daysofgreekfood.
This post has been updated since July 2018. It contains new photos, an updated recipe, and more cultural elements as a special traditional recipe like Ladenia deserves.
Greek Vegan Olive Oil Flatbread
FOR THE DOUGH
- 4 cups (480g) all-purpose flour*
- 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 +½ cups lukewarm water
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano (optional)
FOR THE TOPPING
- 5 large tomatoes, seeds removed and sliced
- 3 large onions, thinly sliced
- ½ cup (120ml) extra virgin olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- Fresh basil or fresh oregano, or/and arugula for topping (optional)
PREPARE THE DOUGH
- For stand mixer:Mix the water and yeast together in the bowl of the stand mixer and let sit for about 5-10 minutes until the yeast is dissolved and foamy.
- Add 1 cup of flour, salt, olive oil, and oregano (optional). Attach the dough blade and knead on medium speed for about 5-8 minutes, adding gradually the rest of the flour until you have a smooth and elastic dough. If the dough is too wet, add some flour, if too crumbly, add water.
- Cover and let rise until doubled, about ½ to 1 hour.
- For kneading by hand:Mix the water and yeast together in a big bowl and let sit for about 5-10 minutes until the yeast is dissolved and foamy.
- Add 1 cup of flour, salt, olive oil, and oregano (optional). Mix the ingredients and then add gradually the rest of the flour. Mix the ingredients together until a dough forms.
- Transfer the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for about 10-15 minutes until you have a smooth and elastic dough. If the dough is too wet, add some flour, if too crumbly, add water.
- Grease with olive oil the bowl you've already used and place the dough in. Cover it with a clean kitchen towel, and let rise until doubled, about ½ hour to 1 hour.
PREPARE THE TOPPING
- Meanwhile, mix the sliced tomatoes, onions, and a pinch of salt. Place them into a sieve. Drain as long as the dough rises.
- Once the dough has risen, gently deflate the dough and turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface.
- Make one big ladenia or divide the dough to make more smaller pieces of ladenia.
- Preheat the oven to 392°F (200°C).
- Grease a round 13-inch (35cm) or 15-inch (38cm) round baking pan or sheet with olive oil. Alternatively, just 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 (or arrange) onions and tomatoes over the dough. Season with salt (optional), pepper, and oregano (optional). Pour evenly the olive oil.
- Place in the middle rack of your oven in the preheated oven and bake for about 30 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown and the tomatoes/onions are caramelized.
- Top with fresh basil or oregano, feta crumbles, or arugula. Cut ladenia into slices and serve warm as a delicious meal or part of a meze platter.