Cretan salad with dakos (ntakos)

Cretan salad with dakos is a traditional meze also known as “Greek bruschetta”. The best part of this little treasure of the Greek cuisine is that it can be eaten any time of the day – for breakfast, lunch or dinner, or simply as a snack. It’s light but very filling and, from the nutrition point of view, it can be a complete meal.

ntakos-saladThe dakos or ntakos salad is made of ingredients that every Greek has at home handy, so it can be made and eaten any time: tomatoes, feta cheese, olives, olive oil, oregano and basil. And it takes hardly five minutes to prepare and much longer to savor and enjoy.

Not to miss the point, it’s important to add here that Cretans, when make their salad with dakos at home, usually use aged myzithra cheese. If you have a chance to try dakos with myzithra, you will understand the slight but important difference in taste. Mizithra features a tangy flavour, and makes everything a little saltier.

As in all Greek summer specialties, all ingredients in Cretan salad have to be fresh and fully ripen in order to provide the best flavor. What makes this salad different from what is commonly considered as a salad is a rusk (dakos) that is used as a bed for the rest of ingredients. Although you can replace a rusk with a grilled piece of bread, the real Cretan salad comes with barley rusks known all over the island.

Recipe for Dakos Salad

– One large round dakos (barley rusk)
– One big ripe tomato with discard skin, grated
– One big piece of feta cheese (or myzithra), finely crumbled or grated
– One tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil, or more
– Freshly ground black pepper
– Greek oregano
– Couple of fresh leaves of basil (Vasilikos The Greek)
– Olives (optional)

Take a piece of dakos and sprinkle its both sides with water to make it somewhat softer. Be careful; don’t overdo it since you don’t want soggy dakos – just slightly softened. Wash and peel tomato, and then either grate it or chop in tiny pieces. It’s important to get rid of the most of tomato’s juice. Then spread the tomato mixture over the dakos and add cheese at the top. Now, sprinkle pepper and oregano over the cheese, add basil leaves, and top with the olive oil.

Bon appetite!

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