Lathera - make green peas exciting
This is one my favourite meatless Monday recipes. I say favourite about a lot of recipes and I really mean it. I love them all but this one is one of those recipes that If you put the pot in front of me I will eat the whole thing and when it’s done I will wipe the pot clean with some crusty bread. I put this over rice or (gf) pasta or just on its own with bread and some feta. This and a salad and I’m done. This will definitely not be a favourite as a stand alone main if your not a veggie fan (who are you?). But even as a side it works really well.
So Lathera in Greek actually means “oily”. This can be an off-putting name because of the oily factor, but the dish isn’t oily, it just uses quite a bit of oil in the recipe. Quite a bit meaning ¼ to ½ a cup to sauté (to 1 lb of vegetables) and cook down the vegetables and then when serving you drizzle some uncooked EVOO on them to get that rich flavour cooked in, and poured over as well. This makes the dish nice and rich. If you just use a scant amount of oil it will not be as flavourful and will just be watery vegetables.
What vegetables? Well the possibilities are endless. Top two for me are string beens (fasolakia) or green peas (mpizelia or arakas). Fresh or frozen, they are my go-to vegetables for Lathera.
But you can use potatoes, cauliflower, okra and various legumes too like broad beans, lima (gigantes) beans, and chick peas.
Benefits of Lathera are plenty. Ok so first off, from the olive oil you get a good dose of antioxidants and healthy monounsaturated fats. Second, you get a meal rich in fibre and tons of nutrients because it’s all vegetables. And lastly it’s super cheap to make if your on a budget. If you can’t buy fresh like I said you can use frozen veggies which are still full of good nutrients. And if you don’t have fresh tomatoes you can sub in good canned tomatoes. Green peas are a super food in themselves. A fantastic source of fibre which is so good for your digestion. High also in iron, folate, manganese, phosphorous, copper, vitamin B1, and potassium. Health benefits range from lowering cholesterol, contributing to good heart health, weight loss and of course an amazing source of protein!!
What you can’t sub out is the EVOO, tomatoes, parsley, onions and garlic. Those are the staples of this fine vegetarian dish.
The things that can change:
- Some add a pinch of sugar to balance out the acidity of the tomatoes. I think that’s optional.
- Some add in carrots and that is fine too. That will add a nice bit of sweetness to the dish. You can add a little white wine when sautéing the vegetables as some do to add a little more depth of flavour but that too is optional.
- Some add dill as I do (if I have it available), which is also optional but I love dill and love the punch it gives anything.
- Some recipes add in a potato for a little more substance and that is fine too.
- If you want a bit of a kick some recipes call for a little bit of pepper flakes but that is completely up to you.
- 1 lb of green beans/or peas (fresh or frozen)
- ¼ to ½ cups of extra virgin olive oil and a little extra for drizzling after
- one yellow onion chopped
- 1 or 2 stems of green onion chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic minced
- 3 medium sized tomatoes or 5 small grated or finely chopped or a large can of diced tomatoes
- 1 large bunch of parsley finely chopped about ¼ cups worth and the same of dill if you like dill (less or none if you don’t)
- a pinch of sugar (optional)
- a teaspoon of tomato paste for a little extra depth and thickness (optional) if using tomato paste add in a ¼ cup of water also
- salt and pepper to taste
- In a deep skillet, sauté the onions with all the oil until soft for a few minutes then add the garlic and herbs and sauté for another minute.
- Add in the tomatoes, tomato paste, peas and a pinch of sugar, ¼ cup of water and stir well
- Lower heat, cover and simmer until the sauce is thick so for about 30 to 45 minutes, adding a little water if needed. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper.
- Serve with a drizzle of olive oil and sprinkle of some fresh parsley on top, crusty bread and feta or use as a sauce over pasta or rice.