Ladenia: Greek Flatbread with Tomato-Onion Topping (Λαδένια)
Serves 8 – 10 as an appetizer
Adapted from Η Κουζίνα της Κιμώλου (The Cuisine of Kimolos) by Filena Venardou
Ladenia is a specialty of Kimolos, a tiny Greek island in the Aegean Sea. It’s bread dough topped with fresh tomatoes, onions, and olive oil (from which it gets its name: “ladi” means “oil” in Greek), and baked until the edges are crunchy and the onions caramelized. Make with the best quality fresh tomatoes you can find. In Anchorage, Alaska, this means small, vine-ripened Campari tomatoes purchased at Costco and kept at room temperature until they’re ripe, red, and juicy. If you like spicy food, sprinkle Aleppo or red pepper flakes over the tomatoes and onions before baking Ladenia. In order to prevent oil from running onto the oven floor, Ladenia must be baked in a pan with high sides, such as a round stainless steel baking pan with 1 1/2” sides or a bottom section of the 12” x 14” roaster/grill pan that comes with most American ovens.
1 cup warm water
2 1/4 tsp. dried yeast (1 packet)
1 tsp. salt
1/4 cup olive oil
2 3/4 – 3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups diced fresh tomatoes, 3/4” dice
1 1/2 cups thinly sliced onions
1/3 cup olive oil
1 tsp. salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 – 3 tsp. dried oregano, crushed
Put warm water in large bowl and sprinkle with dried yeast. Let sit for 10 minutes while yeast begins working. Mix in salt and olive oil. Stir in smaller amount of flour, and add enough of remaining flour to form slightly sticky dough. Adding flour as necessary, knead dough until it is smooth, elastic, and no longer sticky. (Kneading dough in a stand mixer makes the task quick and easy.)
Spread 2 Tbsp. of olive oil over bottom of 15” round pan, or 12” x 14” roaster/grill pan. Make sure sides of pan are higher than dough will be after it rises and is covered by toppings.
Start stretching dough out with your hands, and then put it into pan. Press dough out until it fully covers pan’s bottom. If some of olive oil oozes over dough, use it to lightly oil top of dough. Cover pan with dish cloth or plastic wrap and set it aside to rise in warm place until dough has doubled in size (about 1 hour).
Preheat oven to 400°F.
When dough has finished rising, use your fingertips to make little indentations all over it. Mix remaining olive oil, tomatoes, onions, salt, and freshly ground black pepper in bowl, and spread mix evenly over dough. Sprinkle with crushed oregano. Bake for 40 – 50 minutes, or until sides of Ladenia have browned and dough is cooked through.
Cut into pieces and serve warm, cold, or at room temperature.