And your new favourite snack or light lunch is here.
That’s right, forget the protein oat balls, forget the wet, limp packet of store bought salad, and forget going at the can of corn with a fork….
Because this Dakos (ντάκος: or translated occasionally as “Cretan Rusk Salad” – btw: <—- worst name EVER!) has you covered.
And even though it may have the fancy name of “Cretan Dakos” (and a few other names that I will explain ↓below↓) this is, essentially, a Cretan-style Bruschetta. And who does not like bruschetta, I mean, really?
And, as you might have guessed, it’s just as tasty as its Italian cousin, if not more so because…. Feta ?
Yes, beautiful, vine ripened, and crushed tomatoes are spooned over Cretan style (barley or rye) rusks (more on them ↓below↓ too!) and topped with Feta cheese (in Crete it can also be Mizithra cheese), oregano, olives, sometimes capers, and then drowned in olive oil.
Then the shovelling into mouth with groans of foodie pleasure operation will commence!
Now, about the name…
Having lived in Crete for several years I knew Dakos Bread, not by the label of “Dakos Bread”, but by its Cretan name: Koukouvayia (κουκουβάγια – which literally translates to “owl” – why? I don’t and never want to know?)
I didn’t know koukouvayia by any other name and, frankly, did not know that it was named anything else in other parts of Greece.
Anyway, flash forward several years, to Sydney, Australia, and I found myself working in a cafe owned and run by Greeks . As always, the fact that th white British guy lived in Greece for so many years, and could speak a little (read: very little) of their language, was taken favourably and I, once again, held my pseudo-Greek nationality.
And of course, daily conversation would always return to the Greek homeland, usually with food as the main topic of discussion.
And, of course, once every other Greek dish had been discussed,I mentioned Koukouvayia… I was met with blank stares and, honestly, the question of “did you really eat an owl?”
No, I didn’t eat an owl.
Ah! Dakos Bread! Came the exclamations of realisation after I had explained what I meant by koukouvayia, you mean Cretan Dakos Bread!
In certain parts of Crete Dakos also goes by the name of kouloukopsomo and, in the poorly but enthusiastically translated menus of the tourist-aimed restaurants “Cretan Bread Salad” <— again wtf…
It’s all Greek to me but, thankfully, the language of delicious food is universal.
Now the base of Dakos is traditionally a rusk known in Greek as Paximadi (παξιμάδι); an umbrella term for all types of Greek rusks.
The most common in Crete are made of barley or rye – in this recipe I am using the rye variety.
Now, depending on where you are in the world I have no idea how easily you will be able to get your hands on actual Greek-style rusks. If you live in an area with a significant Greek population – like I do – chances are you will be able to pick it up quite easily, especially from the small, family run groceries.
If not, it is probably just going to be a game of luck. However, other options include:
- Buying online, say, from amazon.com: you can find a good selection of Greek-style rusks on this search page;
- You could bake rye bagels in your oven until they have turned hard and crispy;
- You could use any old rusk bread you can find in your local supermarket
At the end of the day, this is such a simple, humble and yummy recipe that, even without the correct bread, it’s still going to be pretty delicious because…
Feta + Tomatoes + oregano = Greek Food Coma!
Dakos (ντάκος) – Cretan-Style Bruschetta
Prep Time: 10 – 15 mins || Serves: 4
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- 4 barley (or rye) rusks
- 4 large tomatoes, deseeded and finely chopped
- 2 – 4 cloves of garlic, minced (optional)
- 100g feta
- a few sprigs of fresh oregano, finely diced
- handful of olives
- olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
- Sprinkle a little salt over the chopped tomatoes and leave in a colander to drain for a few minutes (half an hour if you have the time). After they have drained, str through the minced garlic.
- Submerge the rusks 1/3 to 1/2 way in water for 30 seconds or so to soften one side of them. With the soft side facing upwards, spoon over the tomatoes and garlic mixture. Crumble feta over the top. Sprinkle with the oregano and garnish with olives.
- Drizzle a generous lug of olive oil over the top and season with salt and cracked black pepper.