A specialty of the Greek island of Crete, this fragrant salad made from fresh tomatoes and feta, topped with capers, red onions, oregano, and basil is a vibrant taste of summer.
It can made in a few different forms. Either served like an Italian bruschetta with the tomatoes and cheese crumbled on top of rusks (savory biscuits), or deconstructed into a salad— which is my favorite way of eating it and what this recipe suggests.
Served Dakos salad as part of a mezze spread, or perhaps alongside a barbecue, but it’s also substantial enough to eat as a meal in and of itself. In my mind, this is the kind of food that I crave on those hot, sunny, days, when you don’t feel like cooking and simply want to throw a quick and easy meal together.
What is in Dakos Salad?
Barley rusks: Traditionally Dakos is made with barley rusks, called paximadi in Greek, which are dry, hard, savory biscuits. You can find them in specialty Mediterranean grocery stores or online. You can also substitute them with any kind of wholegrain crisp rolls which you can find in most large supermarkets these days (or even in Ikea—crisp rolls are very popular in Scandinavian cuisine too).
Mizithra cheese: In Crete, the dish would be made with mizithra cheese, a local soft, sweet, cheese made from sheep and goat’s milk. As this can be hard to source outside of Greece, it’s commonly substituted with feta which I think tastes just as good, if not better.
Tomatoes: This is a salad that really relies on the quality of the tomatoes so purchase quality tomatoes. To get the best flavor from your tomatoes, don’t store them in the fridge unless you really have to (i.e. they are fully ripe and close to spoiling) as the cold can degrade their flavor and aroma. Leave them out in a bowl until you want to use them. One thing I like to do is to place a bowl of tomatoes out in the sun for a few hours before I use them. I swear it makes a difference even to the refrigerated store-bought ones!
Extra virgin olive oil: You also want to make sure to use a really good quality extra virgin olive oil. It’s important to store bottles of olive oil away from bright sunlight or heat, as both of these can make them go rancid sooner. Be sure keep yours in a cupboard away from your cooker so that it lasts longer. If you want to learn a little more about quality olive oil we have a guide to buying olive oil, which tells you all about different kinds to buy, how to store it, and what to use it for.
Dakos Salad Swaps and Substitutions
Once you get the basics of this recipe down it’s incredibly flexible. Here are some ideas to switch it up:
- Want to use some mint instead of basil? Go for it.
- Can’t find any suitable rusks or crisp rolls? Cube 2 thick slices of sourdough bread, drizzle with olive oil, and bake in a 350°F oven for about 10 minutes, until they are dry and crisp like croutons and use those instead.
- Craving some cucumber? Feel free to add it.
Dakos Salad Storage
You can make this salad up to an hour before eating. Any leftovers can be stored in the fridge and are best eaten within 24 hours.
More Recipes by Yasmin Khan
If you cannot find dakos rusks for this recipe you can use 8 wholegrain crisp rolls or 2 thick slices of sourdough, cut into chunks, and bake in a 350°F oven for about 10 minutes, until they are dry and crisp like croutons.
- 1 pound ripe tomatoes, cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks
- 2 tablespoons finely diced red onions
- 1/4 cup black olives (such as kalamata), pitted and roughly chopped
- 1 tablespoon capers, roughly chopped
- Small handful of parsley leaves, chopped
- Small handful basil leaves, chopped
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 4 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
- 1/3 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
- Black pepper, to taste
- 6 dakos rusks or two thick slices of sourdough cut into chunks and toasted
- 1/2 cup feta, crumbled
Combine salad ingredients:
In a large bowl combine the tomatoes, red onion, olives, capers, parsley, basil, oregano, red wine vinegar, olive oil, salt, and black pepper to taste.
Crumble rusks over salad and let sit:
Break the rusks into 1-inch pieces. Add to the salad then using a rubber spatula combine the ingredients. Let the salad rest for 10 minutes so the rusks can soften slightly in the tomato juices.
Top with feta:
Once the salad has rested for 10 minutes, add the feta over top.
Finish salad and serve:
Check the seasoning and add additional salt and pepper, if needed. Finish with a final drizzle of olive oil. Serve.