Ladera and Extra Virgin Olive Oil, tradition and Greek Mediterranean diet.
By: Irini Kokolaki, Expert of virgin olive oil tasting
On the occasion of summer and the variety of vegetables it offers us, this article is dedicated to the Greek Mediterranean diet, which is rich in vegetables and raw materials from the Greek land. The dishes “ladera” are the protagonists of the summer in the Greek traditional cuisine and as the word itself testifies, they are perfectly interwoven with the olive oil. The main ingredients of these dishes are olive oil and vegetables. Generations and generations have grown up with these foods, Greeks and tourists are always looking for them to taste them during their summer vacations.
Okra, green beans, broad beans, peas, aubergines are just some of the dishes that belong to the category of “ladera” and most often cooked from at least one type of vegetables, herbs and always with olive oil. “Ladera” symbolize the homemade and healthy food, exude the warmth and hospitality of Greek households and are part of the Mediterranean way of life and culture of the Greeks. They are almost always accompanied by bread and feta cheese.
“Ladera” symbolize the homemade and healthy food, exude the warmth and hospitality of Greek households and are part of the Mediterranean way of life and culture of the Greeks.
The “ladera” are always cooked with olive oil and it is even better when the olive oil is added at the end of cooking or even to our own dish. In this case we always prefer extra virgin olive oil because it is rich in vitamin E, polyphenols and antioxidants, therefore it is an ally in the good health of our body. If we want an even more balanced and harmonious taste in combination with the beneficial properties of extra virgin olive oil, we could choose different varieties of olive oil from all over Greece and marry them with the corresponding “ladera” dishes. For example, we should choose with the peas that have a sweet taste an extra virgin olive oil more bitter and spicy as Koroneiki variety, with the beans an extra virgin olive oil that has a strong aroma and taste of tomato (Halkidiki variety) because the tomato salad always goes well with this dish and with the okra an extra virgin olive oil sweeter in taste (manaki variety) so as not to lose the intensity given to them by the lemon during cooking.
The “ladera” apart from part of the traditional Greek cuisine and the culture of the Greeks in the food could be easily a lifestyle that more and more included in the diet of the younger ones because it is a vegan dish without any animal fat rich in vitamins and antioxidants, against the wear and tear of time that free radicals in our body release thanks to the presence of olive oil.