Ladera are the dishes that the Greeks eat during periods of fasting when all meat and dairy products are not eaten. Of course, that is not to say that they are not eaten at other times.
They are always vegetarian dishes cooked with olive oil and usually tomatoes, garlic and herbs. The word ladera comes from the word ‘ladi’ meaning oil…so oil-based, comforting dishes.
Some of my favourite ladera dishes are those prepared in the summer: the delicate green beans, eggplants, zucchini and okra which are cooked with tomatoes, bursting with flavour and perfect served with fresh crusty bread and some cheese, usually feta. In winter dried beans are included as part of the ladera menu.
Ladera are best served at room temperature but I also think that they are even more delicious the next day.
I love the simplicity of these one-pot dishes and here is my favourite ladera dish…green beans with tomato.
Green beans casserole
1 kilo green beans
4 or 5 fresh tomatoes roughly chopped
4 carrots peeled and sliced
4 small zucchini cut into chunks
salt and pepper
1 onion finely diced
Wash beans and cut into half. Prepare carrots and zucchini and put aside.
In a casserole dish sauté the onion in a little olive oil until soft, then add tomatoes, beans, carrots and zucchini, season with salt, pepper and oregano. Add 1 cup of water, enough to just cover the vegetables. Cover and simmer for approximately 45 minutes or under tender.
You can also add potatoes into this casserole if you like or simply serve with mashed potatoes and roasted meat or lamb chops. This is also delicious with fresh crusty bread and lots of fetta cheese.