Traditional Greek Cretan Barley Rusk Salad (Dakos salad)
After a long, hard spring, due to the Covid-19, and two months in lockdown, summer in Greece has finally arrived, and most of the measures taken due to the virus, are gradually lifted.
The weather these past few days is getting warmer and warmer by the day and we couldn’t be happier for this.
Because of the virus many things were put on hold and the most important one for us, is our permanent relocation to the countryside. We had to wait for the transportation restrictions to be lifted in order to begin our final moving. Yes, you ‘re reading it right! We are moving to Evia island for good. We are so excited! We feel like a new chapter to our book of life is beginning and we are thrilled about it.
The decision to move to Evia island was taken during the past Christmas holidays. We found out that we didn’t like the way we were living in Athens, because of the hectic rhythms of living in a big city. Something was missing from our lives.
Part of this change, were all these trips we took the past years, visiting all these beautiful places around Greece, in the countryside. During these trips we watched how the locals were living and we discovered that the simple things in life are what matter the most. Simple living; that seems to be the secret. Following a simpler way of living was suddenly making a lot of sense to us. We wanted that life. We needed it. So, we decided to make it a reality
These two months of lockdown we spent in Evia, were all the proof we needed that we can actually live here with less thing, in a smaller space. The house we will move in, in less than a month, is less than half the size of the one we are living today. It’s a small house (close to the definition of tiny). So, downsizing is the only way to go. Less things, means less expenses, less time in house cleaning, more time for each other. More time to do things we really enjoy, more time to be creative.
Furthermore, the house we will move in, will be ours to use however we like. It was very important for us to avoid paying any rent. This means even less expenses.
In these two months, we created a small garden with veggies and herbs. The garden is part of this project. Growing our own food and being frugal is part of this new close-to-zero-waste life.
We will get back to you with more details on our relocation project with photos after we move.
The fact that we are moving to a whole new location during the summer was part of the plan. Let’s face it. Things can be done more easily during summer. Plus being in close range from the beach makes things more pleasant and fun.
Speaking of summer… let’s talk a little about summer food and recipes. Summer is a season that has an abundance of produce to choose from and create amazing dishes. Some of them are simple and some of them are more complex (like a baking dish full of moussaka, yummm!).
We like the complex ones for sure, but for our everyday lunch or dinner we choose more easy and simple recipes.
Simple doesn’t necessarily mean boring or tasteless though. The secret to getting flavor in a simple recipe is the quality of the produce you choose to cook with.
Greek Cretan Burley Rusk
One of these simple summer recipes that we have wanted to share with you for a long time, is the one we post here today. Any of you who have visited Greece or eaten in a Greek restaurant/tavern anywhere in the world, you might have seen or tasted this dish: The Cretan Dakos.
A simple yet delicious dish that besides being served as a salad, it can also be a light, healthy lunch idea.
Dakos mainly consists of the round Cretan barley rusk, tomatoes, olives, extra virgin olive oil, white cheese (feta or Cretan mizithra) and dry oregano (or dittany in some places in Crete).
The Cretan rusk is a double baked bread made of barley flour. Because many Cretan families back in the days were not able to bake bread daily, they were making rusks out of it so that it will last longer and could be carried with them as a snack, while working at their crops or their cattle.
Since then though it has entered the menus of the Cretan tavernas (and tavernas all over the country eventually) as an appetizer or as a meze served with tsikoudia, a strong Cretan drink made of grapes and alcohol.
The Cretan Dakos salad can be considered a whole meal. It consists of ripe tomatoes, feta cheese or Cretan mizithra cheese (a local white cheese, quite salty and dry), olives, extra virgin olive oil and dry oregano (or dittany, a herb similar to oregano that grows mainly in Crete).
The secret to a good Dakos salad (like all simple recipes) is the high quality of the ingredients. Its this quality that will make a Dakos salad from “meh” to “wow”.
The tomatoes must be ripe, full of flavor and aroma. The feta cheese must be of high-quality. Likewise, with the olives and the extra virgin olive oil. Therefore, Dakos salad (to our opinion), must be served only during the summer, when tomatoes are in season.
This salad is super healthy, easy to make, and makes a light vegetarian lunch. You can also serve this as an appetizer or as a snack in parties and gatherings. Your friends will love it!
You can make quite a few versions of Dakos salad. You can add capers or replace the olives completely with capers. You can add red onion in thin slices or finely chopped. You can even add a little bell pepper. You can also try adding Kalathaki cheese instead of feta. Kalathaki is saltier, and pairs amazing with Dakos. You can read more about it in this post about white Greek cheeses.
If you can’t find the traditional Cretan barley rusks for Dakos in your area, they are available online. However, you can also use your favorite rusks, as long as they are made of whole wheat or barley.
You can even serve this as a break-apart salad by crumbling the rusk into large pieces, chopping the tomatoes, add the cheese, the olives and then drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle the oregano.
The options are endless. But in this post, we will show how to make and assemble the traditional Greek Cretan Dakos salad.
Ready to make this delicious, simple and healthy salad?
For 1 dakos
- 1 large barley rusk (about 80g / 3oz)
- 1 ripe tomato (medium sized / 200g / 7oz)
- 3-4 Kalamata olives (20g/ 1oz), pitted
- 1/2 teaspoon dry oregano
- 2 tablespoons feta cheese (50g / 2oz), crumbled
- 2 tablespoons (30ml) extra virgin olive oil
Grate the tomato (pic.1). Dip the barley rusk in water for just 1 second (pic.2)
Add the grated tomato onto the rusk using a tablespoon (pic.3). Try to cover as much of the surface as you can with the tomato. Add the extra virgin olive oil (pic.4). It will take about 2-3 tablespoons per rusk.
Add the crumbled feta (pic.5), the Kalamata olives and the oregano (pic.6).
The Greek Cretan dakos salad is ready to be served. You can drizzle some more olive oil on top of the olives for extra flavor.
1. You can make this salad using Kalathaki cheese instead of feta or Cretan mizithra.
2. If you can’t find the traditional Cretan barley rusks for dakos in your area you can use your favorite rusks, as long as they are made of whole wheat or barley.
3. You can add capers on your dakos rusk, or totally replace the olives with capers.
4. It’s better served after it stays on the counter for 5 minutes, to allow the flavors to develop.
5. When making dakos, make sure to leave the tomato out of the fridge for at least a couple of hours, for better taste and aroma.
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