Panos’ Dakos Greek Bread Salad.
Origin: Last summer we were fortunate enough to spend a glorious 2 weeks with close friends in Greece exploring both land and sea. Ikies Traditional Cave Houses in Oia, Santorini, was where we stayed for the first week, and was unequivocally the most beautiful, peaceful and mesmerizing place I have ever been blessed to visit. The second week saw us skimming the ocean from Santorini back to Athens on a chartered yacht, and that was a whole different experience worth trying. Click here to go straight to printable recipe
We were fortunate to have a very entertaining, very Greek Captain, named Panos, and he shared his incredible life experiences with us during the 3-4 hour crossings each day.
He showed us through the honesty markets on the smaller more remote islands, (no one in attendance, just a jar to pay your dues) and took us to some unbelievable local eateries. Like us, Panos also loved cooking and experimenting with food, as he was married to a lovely lady who was a chef and originally from Crete, so cooking was a great part of their lives.
Oia, Santorini . One evening at dinner, we wandered what he would select off the menu and when we asked him, he shook his head, pulled a face and explained that most things on the menu were not the type of food he grew up eating. The chefs would make him something they knew he ate. (Like Italy, Greek food is very regional and the locals prefer their favorite dish made according to their family methods.)
While our meals were being served a member of the kitchen staff nonchalantly handed Panos a plate of rather messy looking squashed tomato piled with crumbled feta cheese. Hoping not to draw attention to the meal which was not on the menu, we could not help ourselves from zoning in on his meal, and took up his polite offer to taste! It was so unusual and tasty that we convinced Panos to make it for us the following evening for dinner. Crunchy and juicy at the same time.
Dakos is a rich, brown Cretan barley rusk that is very hard, dry, and impossible to eat without the addition of some form of liquid. (We-Love-Crete is a great site to follow if planning a trip) Our Captain added a sprinkling of water and the juice of about 8 jam tomatoes that we had bought from the market the day before. Good quality tinned tomatoes are a good substitute if you cannot get juicy fresh ones. I use the imported tinned ones, as our tomatoes are not as juicy as they were there.
Dakos is the only ingredient you may battle to find, but don’t panic, any home-made peasant country loaf will do. Just don’t waste your ingredients by using cardboard like, mass produced sliced bread. It will be horrid. Even tasty whole-wheat seeded rolls cut in half will do the trick.
I have added a few extra bits as I always over-gild the lily, much to Panos horror, as he insisted it only needed the bread, tomato, and feta as the main ingredients! (He doesn’t have internet so I am safe!)
Dakos Greek Bread Salad: (Serves 8 – 10 or make as individual bruschetta if you would like to serve as a starter)
1 loaf Dakos Bread
Or a Country Loaf cut into thick slices and buttered on both sides with garlic butter.
2 x 375g Tin of whole peeled tomatoes or 8 juicy jam tomatoes/blanched and skinned
1 x 500 g punnet of feta cheese
1 x punnet olives
1 x punnet marinated sweet peppers
1 finely sliced red onion
1 fresh lemon
oregano (fresh or dried)
marinated artichokes (optional)
- If you can get Dakos go straight to the third step. If not take a country loaf and slice into thick slices (4cm thick) Note: the addition of garlic butter to the plain bread is to add some flavor to it as it would be very bland compared with the distinct flavor of Dakos.
- Butter both sides of the bread with garlic butter and lightly fry until golden brown. Bake in the oven 120 oC for 1 -2 hours or until crispy and rusk- like. Remove and cool.
- Just before serving (not too long before as it will get too soggy) lay the dried rusks in the base of your serving platter. Sprinkle with about a ½-1 cup of water.
- Squeeze the tomatoes over the bread, ensuring to get some of the juice and flesh on each slice.
- Add layers of sweet peppers, thinly sliced red onion (and artichokes if you are adding them) and crumble the feta cheese over the top.
- End off with the olives, a squeeze of lemon on each slice of bread, and a good few pinches of oregano.
- Lastly dress with a good quality olive oil and ground pepper. (about 6 -8 Tablespoons –don’t be shy) Let guests add their own salt as the feta can be quite salty.