This super healthy Dakos (Ntakos) Cretan Salad actually looks like a little totally gorgeous Greek island on a plate. A traditional Cretan barley rusk piled high with healthy Mediterranean goodness. As bright and colourful as it is tasty and healthy too.
Since I’m in Crete just now I thought I’d share this simple and very traditional Cretan recipe with you. Dakos (or ntakos) is the name given to this very traditional Cretan salad which sits on a barley rusk base.
This Dakos salata is a bit like the Cretan version of Itallian bruschetta. Only it’s bigger, better and oh so amazingly tasty.
These simple (and super healthy) barley rusks are called Paximadi. Actually Paximadia is the name of the tiny island just off the coast of Crete right opposite the village of Agia Galini where I live. So Dakos are even more special to me with this quirky little connection.
The rusks are rock hard. I mean seriously tooth breakingly hard. One good thing about that is that they last for ages. You have to wet the rusks before you can eat them.
In this Dakos salad they are drizzled with water first then it’s the juice from the fresh tomatoes and the olive oil that does the softening for you.
You can buy these barley rusks online at Amazon and other places. However for this simple Dakos salad you can use wholegrain bread rolls and dry them out low and slow in the oven to get something similar to the famous Paximadi rusks.
Drying out bread in a very low oven is a great way of prolonging its edibility (is that even a word? Oh well it is now), you are basically making your own crispbreads.
I did a post on making these homemade crispbreads ages ago.
Of course you will get different flavours whatever bread you start off with.
If you have access to a Greek deli (or Amazon) then invest in some Dakos barley rusks, they’re delicious, great for dunking in soup and scooping up dips and flavoured oils.
Ingredients for Dakos
This Dakos salad is super healthy. The rusks being made simply with barley flour, salt and yeast.
Now for the all important topping, the Dakos salad itself. Fresh vine tomatoes. Don’t go for anything less.
You want juiciness and flavour all the way here. The juices from the ripe tomatoes seeps into the barley rusks and brings everything together beautifully.
Fresh vine tomatoes
salt and pepper
In Crete the cheese for a Dakos Salata would usually be the local Mizithra cheese. However, as that isn’t usually readily available in our supermarkets (unless Lidl is doing their Greek week!) you can just as easily use feta which is available almost everywhere these days.
Try my recipe for making your own homemade feta cheese too!
How to make Dakos Salad
Making Dakos Cretan Salad is really more of a construction job rather than a recipe, I love it when things are totally simple and brilliantly delicious and these Dakos tick both boxes.
Even though you are crushing fresh juicy tomatoes and adding olive oil to the barley rusks I still like to drizzle them first with some water (I like my teeth!).
I like to skin the tomatoes so that you get all the juiciness but don’t get tomato skin stuck to your teeth. Just plunge them into boiling water for a matter of seconds then into cold water and peel off the skins.
Smashing up the tomatoes and crushing them in your hands allows the juices to flow freely and feels great too, This is hands-on Cretan salad making!
Add the other ingredients and you’ve just made Dakos Salad from Crete!
This Dakos Cretan salad is really the Mediterranean diet on a plate.
One taverna on the beach here serves it’s Dakos in larger scale. Rusks that are so big they are like an edible bowl and the Dakos salad is just eaten straight out of them rusk bowl and all. Perfect, no washing up!
Actually that’s a bit like traditional clam chowder in New England where they serve it in a hollowed out bread roll.
Looking for more super easy and tasty Greek salad style recipes? Then check these out;
Finally, if you do try this recipe don’t forget to leave a comment/star rating below as I just love to hear from readers. Want more Larder Love? Then follow me on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter and sign up for my newsletter too of course.
Dakos From Crete
- 2 Dakos barley rusks barley rusks, dried out bread
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 large tomato
- 2 tbsp mizithra or feta cheese
- 1 tsp capers
- 4 black olives
- 1/2 tsp dried oregano
- 2 tsp chopped fresh parsley
- black pepper
- Dampen the Dakos or dried bread with water
- Place Dakos on serving plate and drizzle with good olive oil
- Skin tomato by plunging into boiling water then cold and peeling off skin, core and remove seeds before chopping into small pieces
- Add the tomato to the Dakos base
- Sprinkle with mizithra/feta cheese, capers, olives and herbs
- Sprinkle with a little more olive oil and a good grinding of black pepper