Lathera – “the ones with the oil”

by Sava

I read recently that during classical antiquity in Greece, the vegetarian diet was called “abstinence from beings with a soul”. It also said “the earliest reliable evidence for vegetarianism theory and practice in Greece dates from the 6th century BC”. ( There were several religious leaders and movements at that time that would not eat the flesh of animals. Although Greeks are not known to be vegetarians today, “vegetarianism has its roots in  ancient India and ancient Greece” ( In Greece this way of life was limited to a small number of those who belonged to some philosophical schools or religious groups.

Today, there are many vegetarian dishes in Greek Cuisine. Meat of any kind is almost a side dish, since the emphasis is on the vegetables that are so abundant in their gardens. The many recipes where vegetables are cooked in olive oil and tomato along with herbs fall into this category called “Lathera”, meaning “the ones with the oil” and are eaten as a main course accompanied by feta cheese and fresh bread. Greeks have the highest intake of vegetables per person in the world, even though they are not considered vegetarians!

The recipe I am using today is for what I think is a very underused vegetable…peas!  I think we are all accustomed to just boiling peas and melting butter on top. This recipe calls for cooking them in olive oil and tomato with dill. If you’d like, you can add sliced carrots and potatoes to the dish while sauteing the onions. I think you will be pleasantly surprised at how good this is!


Greek Style Peas

1/2 c olive oil

1 medium onion, diced, or frozen pearl onions

1 pound frozen peas

3-4 tbs fresh chopped dill

2 medium grated tomatoes or a 15 ounce can of diced tomatoes

salt and pepper to taste

1. Heat oil in a medium sized pot and saute the onions until soft

2. Add the peas and stir until all peas are heated and covered in olive oil

3. Add the tomatoes, dill, pepper and a half tsp salt.  Add enough hot water so the peas are just covered

4. Mix well and bring to a boil. Then lower heat and simmer 30 minutes or until peas are soft and water has evaporated. They should only be left with olive oil.

5. Serve at room temperature with feta and bread. Add salt to taste.

This recipe is very characteristic of the Greek diet. It is not considered a side dish. It is not only a good source of protein but also a source of fiber and other vitamins and minerals! The most important aspect of these dishes is the olive oil. It is what brings out the flavors and adds richness to the dish. Do not cut back on the amount of olive oil or use a vegetable oil or you will end up with a watery, bland tasting dish!

So what are you waiting for?? Go make it your favorite way to serve peas!!


I’ll be back soon! Yassou!


(Sorry about the less than excellent photo but I had trouble finding a better one!!)

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Georgia Cone April 12, 2020 at 4:19 pm

That sounds yummy I do like it with potatoes ,too !


Georgia Cone April 12, 2020 at 4:21 pm

Excellent dish ! Easy and delicious !


Dan Songster April 12, 2020 at 5:24 pm

I like the Peas in the famous hot dog stew, (that we often do with chicken). But this sounds good too-Easy!


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