I discovered the Greek bread salad, DAKOS, a couple of summers ago, while vacationing on the tiny island of Paros, Greece. Ralph and I were having a lazy lunch, at a beach taverna over looking the Aegean Sea, when this gorgeous heaping bowl of salad walked by. A local family had gathered at the table next to us, to celebrate their matriarch’s 100th birthday. Dish after dish were carried to their table, all sumptutious, but that salad actually lifted me from my seat.
The menu translations in Greece, are sketchy at best, so I interupted the family feast – in true North American style – to ask what the beautiful salad was called. The family graciously, not only told me the name, but explained how it was made. I thanked them, kissed the birthday girl and happily set off to find the ‘special’ ingredient.
Traditionally, Dakos is made with rusks from Crete. I tucked three large bags of the Cretan rusks in my suitcase. These oven-dried crispbreads are made with barley, which makes them sweeter, nuttier and more crunchy than their wheat-only counterparts. Dakos is often served like bruschetta but I prefer it as a salad. With juicy, ripe tomatoes, black olives, capers, olive oil, red wine vinegar and mizithra cheese, you’ll be doing a face plant in your salad bowl.
If you can’t find rusks from Crete or mizithra cheese, not to worry. You can substitute with whatever ever thick rusk you can find and a soft chevre. The flavour will be very close!
DAKOS – A GREEK TOMATO AND BREAD SALAD
4 rusks, broken into bite-size pieces
1 pint of sweet grape tomatoes, halved
½ red onion, sliced thin
1 tablespoon capers, drained
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 ounces feta or a soft chevre, crumbled
- Toss the grape tomatoes, sliced red onion, capers, extra virgin olive oil and red wine vinegar together in a medium size bowl.
- Season with salt and pepper.
- Allow the mixture to sit for ½ hour.
- Divide the broken rusks between to serving dishes.
- Ladled the marinated salad on top of the bread.
- Divide the feta or chevre between the salads.
- Allow the salads to sit for 10 minutes, to allow the bread to soften slightly.
THE LOVE: I prefer my rusks to be crunchy when I eat this salad. If you like your bread a bit softer, let it sit longer before serving.
I don’t have the words to explain how much your compassion for my dad means to me. Knowing so many people are offering up prayer and positive energy lifts my wavering faith. Life presents us with unexpected moments of epic proportions that we aren’t prepared to deal with. Events beyond our current ability to cope. I know there’s a lesson here that someday will serve me well but, today I resent it.
Dad’s in a foreign place. The world of medicine, where protocol, the chain of command and the system leave you feeling helpless and at the mercy of someone else. When you come from a family as independent as mine, it’s not a good place to be. Each one of us are fixers. When there’s a problem, we fix it. We can’t fix this. We have to trust strangers to make decisions on Dad’s well-being. Strangers have to fix this.
Dad doesn’t want me to worry. He wants me to do what I always do. I’m trying.
Thanks for reading.
the photography is mine