One of the first authentic Greek dishes I ever fell in love with was “Dakos”; Cretan barley rusks topped with grated tomato, olive oil, and feta cheese. Eating Dakos felt like knowing what it was like to live in this country during harder times, and having to make do with what the land gave you.
Dakos is now a regular on my lunch table. Sometimes with cheese, sometimes without it. Sometimes with finely chopped red onion, sometimes with olives, and sometimes with capers. You can find one of these versions at many, if not most, Greek taverns, as well. Today’s version is a bit special though.
Barley rusks were a staple food in Crete in ancient times, and have stuck around through the ages probably because of their durability (no joke). The rusks, or paximadia in Greek, are baked twice. First as a whole loaf or ring, and then again sliced, very slowly, at low heat. It’s a process similar to making biscotti, but the result is a rock hard, rough rusk that easily keeps for a year and needs to be softened with some form of liquid to be eaten. Once soft enough to chew, it is quite delicious.
Dakos is normally a summer dish, but I love it so much I wanted to create a version for colder weather. I serve this dakos warm, and it has a slightly sweeter profile than the original thanks to the slow-roasted cherry tomatoes. You have to try this!
- 6 small barley rusks
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes
- 1/4 water
- 1 clove of garlic
- 1 sprig of rosemary
- 1 tbsp. fresh oregano
- salt and pepper
- olive oil
- 1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled
- caper berries, to taste
- Start with the tomatoes.
- Add the tomatoes, the garlic clove, half of the oregano, rosemary, water, salt, pepper, and a splash of olive oil to baking dish and roast at 150 degrees C (300 degrees F) for up to an hour. The tomatoes should be really dark and wrinkly.
- Smash about half the tomatoes to free a lot of the juices. Discard the rosemary sprig and the garlic clove.
- Break your rusks into smaller pieces and place in a small baking dish. Top with the tomatoes (making sure you add all the juices), a drizzle of olive oil, the crumbled feta cheese, and the remaining oregano.
- Switch your over setting to grill and bake for about 10 minutes, or until the cheese is turning golden.
- Add another drizzle of olive oil, and top with the caper berries. Serve warm.
- The caper berries can be switched out for regular capers, caper leaves, or roughly chopped olives.