Greek cuisine is famous for its fresh and healthy salads. One of my all-time favorites is the Greek Dakos Salad (or Cretan to be more precise!). This dish is a perfect combination of crunchy bread, juicy tomatoes, salty feta cheese, and tangy olives. The salad is dressed with a simple yet flavorful mixture of extra-virgin olive oil, red wine vinegar, garlic, and dried oregano. This salad is perfect for any occasion or a summer lunch!
Why this recipe works
Greek Dakos Salad is an ultimate representation of a Mediterranean diet. It is a simple and flavorful dish that has been enjoyed by Greeks for generations and is now becoming popular all over the world. The dish is traditionally made with Cretan barley rusks, which are made from barley flour and water and are left to dry in the sun. The rusks are then soaked in water to soften them and served as the base for the salad. The traditional cheese used in the dish is Cretan mitzithra cheese, a soft and creamy cheese that is made from sheep or goat milk. In this recipe we have tried to reproduce the original flavours with ingredients more accessible outside Greece – toasted bread and feta cheese. Whether you use traditional ingredients like Cretan barley rusks and Cretan mitzithra cheese or substitute them with more readily available ingredients, this dish is sure to transport you to the beautiful shores of Greece.
What is Greek Dakos Salad
Greek Dakos Salad is a traditional dish that originates from the island of Crete and is originally known as kritikos dakos or Koukouvagia (owl). The salad is made with Cretan barley rusks, which are dried, hard bread slices made from barley flour. The bread is then soaked in water or olive oil to soften it before being topped with chopped tomatoes, olives and soft cheese. Originally the Greek Dakos Salad is made with Cretan mitzithra cheese or feta cheese in the other parts of Greece. The salad is dressed with a simple vinaigrette made with extra-virgin olive oil, red wine vinegar, garlic, and dried oregano.
Best ingredients for Greek Dakos Salad
The original Greek Dakos Salad recipe calls for Cretan barley rusks and Cretan mitzithra cheese, which are not readily available in the United States or other parts of the world. However, you can use a good quality crusty bread, such as sourdough or baguette, instead of barley rusks. For the cheese, you can use crumbled feta cheese, which is available in most grocery stores. The tomatoes should be ripe and juicy, and the olives should be pitted and halved. For the dressing, you will need extra-virgin olive oil, red wine vinegar, garlic, dried oregano, salt, and black pepper. You can also garnish the salad with fresh basil or oregano leaves.
How to make Greek Dakos Salad
Please note: This is just an overview – the full ingredients and directions are in the recipe card at the bottom of this post.
Step 1: Toast the bread
Preheat your oven to 400°F (200°C). Slice the bread into 1-inch thick pieces. Place the bread slices on a baking sheet and toast them in the oven until crispy and golden brown, about 10-12 minutes.
Step 2: Combine ingredients
In a mixing bowl, combine the chopped tomatoes, crumbled feta cheese, and chopped olives.
Step 3: Make the dressing
In a small bowl, whisk together the extra-virgin olive oil, red wine vinegar, minced garlic, dried oregano, salt, and black pepper to make the dressing. Add the dressing to the tomato-feta-olive mixture and toss to coat evenly.
Step 4: Assemble the salad
To assemble the salad, place a slice of toasted bread on a plate or serving platter. Spoon some of the tomato-feta-olive mixture over the bread, making sure to distribute the dressing evenly. Garnish with chopped basil leaves, if desired.
If you have leftovers of your Greek Dakos Salad, you can store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. However, be aware that the bread may lose its crunchiness over time and become soggy from the dressing.
To prevent the bread from getting too soggy, it’s best to keep the bread and tomato-feta-olive mixture separate until you are ready to eat. When you are ready to serve the salad, simply assemble the dish by placing the bread on a plate or serving platter, spooning the tomato mixture over the bread, and garnishing with fresh herbs.
Top tips for the best Greek Dakos Salad
- Use high-quality ingredients: As with any recipe, using fresh, high-quality ingredients is key to making a delicious Greek Dakos Salad. Try to use the freshest and ripest tomatoes you can find, along with good quality feta cheese, kalamata olives, and extra-virgin olive oil.
- Toast the bread just before serving: For the best texture and flavor, toast the bread just before serving the salad. This will ensure that the bread is crispy and crunchy and will provide a nice contrast to the juicy tomatoes and flavorful dressing.
- Keep the bread and tomato mixture separate until serving: To prevent the bread from getting too soggy, it’s best to keep the bread and tomato-feta-olive mixture separate until you are ready to eat. This will ensure that the bread stays crunchy and doesn’t absorb too much moisture from the dressing.
- Customize the recipe to your taste: Feel free to customize the recipe to your liking by adding or subtracting ingredients as you see fit. You can add diced cucumber, red onion, or bell peppers for extra crunch and flavor, or use a different type of cheese, such as Cretan mitzithra, to give the salad a unique twist.
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What kind of bread should I use for Greek Dakos Salad?
Traditionally, Greek Dakos Salad is made with Cretan barley rusks, which are a type of hard, crunchy bread that is similar to a cracker. If you can’t find barley rusks, you can use another type of crusty bread, such as sourdough or baguette.
Can I make Greek Dakos Salad ahead of time?
It’s best to toast the bread and prepare the tomato-feta-olive mixture just before serving the salad. However, you can prepare the dressing ahead of time and keep it in the refrigerator until you’re ready to use it.
Can I add other vegetables to the Greek Dakos Salad?
Yes, you can add other vegetables to the salad if you like. Diced cucumber, red onion, and bell peppers are all good options that will add extra crunch and flavor.
Did you make it?
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