Dakos is a traditional Cretan meze or a light meal, and is often called “Greek bruschetta”. Dakos is easy to make with just a few ingredients and requires no cooking or kitchen appliances. Dakos is consisting of a slice of soaked dried bread or barley rusk (kritharokoula) topped with chopped tomatoes and crumbled feta or mizithra cheese, and flavored with herbs such as dried oregano all sorts of healthy deliciousness. Olives can also be added.
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Dakos: A Balanced Nutrition Option
A rusk is a hard, twice-baked bread. Think of it as a large, super-hard crouton. Rusks from the island of Crete are made with barley flour, or a combination of barley flour and whole wheat flour. They can also appear in different shapes – thick slices cut from loaves, round flattened, circular, and sliced bun-like. They often contain sourdough and keep for a long time, which is why there was the preferred bread in times when people did not have the opportunity to bake often. Rusks are very low in fat and very high in fiber.
The thick rusks need to be rehydrated first, which can be done by spraying them with water or briefly soaking them. Although this obviously works very well, our suggestion is to soften the rusk with the juices from a grated ripe tomato; much more delicious than water. You can find rusks at plenty of food shops in Chania, make your own, or use a thick slice of grilled or toasted crusty country bread.
The topping of Dakos consists of olive oil, grated tomato, and mizithra – the traditional soft goat cheese on the island of Crete which has a slightly sweet taste and a creamy texture which melts in your mouth – but you can also use crumbled feta cheese. Some recipes add capers or olives.
The sun-ripened tomatoes of Greece are very juicy and therefore most of the liquid is drained after grating the tomato. While rusks need to be softened to make them palatable, they should not turn soggy from too much tomato water.
Just like bruschetta, dakos should be served right away. To make it ahead, you can store the grated tomatoes in the fridge for a few hours so you have them ready to assemble the dakos.
Rusks often contain sourdough and keep for a long time, which is why there were the preferred bread in times when people did not have the opportunity to bake often. Rusks are very low in fat and very high in fiber.
Dakos (Cretan Barley Rusk) Recipe
- 1 Cretan dry barley rusk
- 2 Ripe tomatoes medium size
- 1 – 2 tsps Olive oil
- 2 tsps Capers
- 2 tsps Chopped red onion
- 1 Fresh basil leaf, chopped
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1-2 tbsp Crumbled feta
- 2 Kalamata olives, pitted and chopped
- 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
- Place the rusk in a bowl or plate.
- Take one of your tomatoes and cut it in half lengthwise. Grate each half into a bowl; discard the skin.
- Stir the grated tomato juice and pulp and slowly spoon it over the rusk, being careful to spoon it over the entire rusk. Drizzle some olive oil on top of this (about 1/2 teaspoon) and let sit for a few minutes, while you continue with the steps below.
- Chop up your second tomato, and place in a bowl. Add the capers, red onion, basil, salt, and pepper, and stir.
- Slowly spoon this mixture over the rusk and grated tomato topping.
- Drizzle with about 1/2 teaspoon olive oil.
- Top with your crumbled feta, olives, and oregano, and drizzle more olive oil over the top (use as much oil as you like).
- Let sit for 5 minutes.
Read more about this exceptional Cretan meze on The Spruce Eats and/or on Akis Petritzikis’ website.