Learn how to make Dakos salad like a Greek and get a full taste of Crete in less than 5 minutes! Also known as Ntakos, this easy-to-make authentic Cretan recipe with barley rusks will become your new healthy addiction.
As I was growing up in the island of Crete, Greece, having Dakos on the table very often, didn't let me realize how delicious it is. It was later, when I moved to Athens, that I started to miss it.
Dakos salad is a Greek dish also served in many taverns (mainly in Crete where it's originated) as part of a collection of meze (appetizer) dishes. It's also ideal as a complete meal since it has everything you need: complex carbohydrates, protein, fiber and healthy fat.
If you like Greek food and especially salads, then you should definitely try this traditional Greek salad (Horiatiki) (which can be served in two differnet ways), this Greek cabbage salad (Lahanosalata) which is perfect during the winter, and this Greek chickpea (garbanzo) salad with rice and corn.
😍 Why I love this recipe
These are some of the reasons why I love this Greek dakos salad recipe:
✓ Simple and quick: You'll need just a few, simple ingredients. And it takes just about 5 minues to make!
✓ Delicious: Something magical happens when the olive oil and the tomato juices soak the barley rusk. The added feta, olives and oregano take this dish over the top.
✓ Textures: The crunchy Cretan rusk, the creamy feta and the grated tomato offer a variaty of textures that make the whole experience even more interesting.
✓ Wholesome:This nourishing Greek bread salad is full of minimally processed ingredients rich in nutrients such as vitamins, proteins, healthy fat, and fibers. Every bite will make you feel that you're doing something good for your body.
For this Cretan salad with ntakos, you'll need the following simple ingredients:
Rusks: The rusks should be Cretan barley rusks (Cretan rusks are very hard so they can absorb the tomato juices without becoming mushy). Most of the times they're made with a mix of whole barley flour and whole wheat flour. They can be round (kritharokouloura) or have the shape of a thick slice of bread.
Though they can be eaten dry, they're usually soaked in water or added to salads to soak some of the juices. This softens them and makes them easier to chew. If you can't find barley rusks you can also use wheat rusks, but the hard kind.
Tomatoes: Use seasonal, organic, very ripe tomatoes with intense flavor.
Olive oil: For this recipe you should only use extra virgin olive oil (filtered or unfiltered).
Cheese: In Crete you will find recipes using Xinomizithra (a sour type of fresh cheese), Anthotiro or Mizithra cheese (a sweet type of fresh cheese) and feta.
Olives: Any type of black olives such as Kalamata olives will do (in Crete, the most common type of olives is Koroneiki, also known as psilolia, and Chondrolia).
No onion, vinegar or black pepper is used in the authentic Dakos recipe.
Tip: The traditional Cretan Dakos is made with a whole rusk and not with rusk broken into pieces.
Alternative presentation: Break the rusk in chunks by hand and cut the tomato and feta in cubes. Then mix and toss all the ingredients in a bowl. You can also make a Greek salad (Horiatiki) and add the rusks at the bottom of bowl to soak up all the juices.
With bread: If you don't have Cretan barley rusks, you can make this variation using bread. Cut thick slices of rustic bread and bake them in the oven until dry and crispy. You can use this easy whole wheat bread recipe with raisins and walnuts (omit the raisins and the walnuts if you like) or even this carob and whole wheat bread (carob is another Cretan favorite ingredient). You don't have to soak them with water, the juices from the tomato will be enough. This will be similar to making an Italian bruscetta. Instead of slices you can also cut the bread in cubes and make croutons.
Vegan Dakos: To make this recipe vegan, just omit the cheese. Many times this dish is prepared without the cheese, especially during Lent. It can be a great source of additional plant based protein and pairs perfectly with legume-based dishes such as these Mediterranean lentil soup (Fakes) and my favorite simple Greek chickpeas recipe (oven Revithada).
Follow this simple step-by-step guide to make the best Dakos salad recipe every time:
Step 1: Cut the tomato in half (from top to bottom) and remove the white part of the stem. Grate it on the largest holes of your box grater, into a medium bowl or a deep plate. Keep grating until all that's left is a thin skin and take care not to hurt your finger on the box grater.
Step 2: Dip the barley rusk for 1-2 seconds into a bowl filled with cold water. Transfer it to a serving dish, drizzle the top with olive oil and add a pinch of sea salt.
You can also wet the rusk by briefly running it under water.
Step 3: Add the grated tomato with all the juices over the rusk and top with crumbled feta cheese.
Step 4: Add some pitted black olives or capers (or both), some dried oregano, an extra drizzle of olive oil and a pinch of salt (optional). Your cretan Dakos salata is ready to eat!
(Olives and capers are already salty, so if your cheese is also too salty, you won't need the extra salt at the finish).
👨🍳 Expert Tips
✤ Cretan barley rusks are ideal for this recipe because they're really hard and don't become mushy when wet. Except from Amazon, I've also found them at Walmart.
✤ Sprinkle the rusk with a bit of salt before adding the grated tomato. Using sea salt flakes is your best option because they don't fully melt, so they give you small bursts of flavor while eating this salad.
✤ For more texture, you can grate half of the tomato and chop the rest into small cubes.
✤ Add plenty of olive oil (less is not more in this situation).
Dakos is the name for the rectangular shaped Cretan rusk, whether that's made from barley or wheat flour. But, it also means the salad which is made with the rusk as the base and topped with olive oil, tomato, white cheese and oregano.
In Chania and Rethymno this salad is also known as "koukouvagia" which means "owl" (yes the bird!)
Dakos is a Cretan rusk that can be eaten on its own or added to salads. If you have strong teeth and like very crunchy foods, you can certainly eat Dakos in its dry form. However, it is absolutely delicious when it's briefly soaked with water, drizzled with extra virgin olive oil and lightly sprinkled with sea salt flakes. Soaking the Dakos, except from softening it, makes its flavor more intense.
Carob Dakos is another type of Cretan rusk that contains a percentage of Carob flour. Carob has a mild sweet flavor similar to chocolate and it's a favorite ingredient in Crete. Carob flour is often used in bread recipes and cakes instead of cocoa.
🍳 More Mediterranean Salad Recipes:
If you tried this Cretan Dakos Salad Recipe or any other recipe on my website, please leave a 🌟 star rating and let me know how it went in the 📝 comments below. I love hearing from you!
Traditional Greek Dakos Salad Recipe (by a Cretan)
- 1 barley rusk
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 medium tomato
- 2 ounces (55 g) feta cheese (crumbled)
- 1 tablespoon pitted olives ( or capers)
- ¼ teaspoon dried oregano (or more to taste)
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt flakes (or more to taste)
- Cut the tomato in half (from top to bottom) and remove the white part of the stem. Grate it on the largest holes of your box grater, into a medium bowl or a deep plate. Keep grating until all that's left is a thin skin and take care not to hurt your fingers on the box grater.
- Dip the barley rusk for 1-2 seconds into a bowl filled with cold water. Transfer it to a serving dish, drizzle the top with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and add a pinch of sea salt flakes.(You can also wet the rusk by briefly running it under water).
- Add the grated tomato with all the juices over the rusk and top with the crumbled feta cheese.
- Add the olives or capers (or both), the dried oregano, the rest of the olive oil and an extra pinch of salt, if needed (olives and capers are already pretty salty, so if your cheese is also too salty, you won't need the extra salt).Bon apetit!
- Except from Amazon, I've also found Cretan barley rusks at Walmart.
- For more texture, you can grate half of the tomato and chop the rest into small cubes.
- Alternative presentation: Break the rusk in chunks by hand and cut the tomato and feta in cubes. Then mix and toss all the ingredients in a bowl and serve.