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Dakos (ντάκος) or koukouvayia (κουκουβάγια) - is a Cretan meze consisting of a hunk of soaked dried bread or barley rusk topped with chopped tomatoes, crumbled feta and dried herbs. Drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with salt and pepper, dakos makes a perfectly light and summery snack or appetiser, or for anyone with a savoury tooth in the morning, enjoy it as a traditional Cretan breakfast.
Growing up, I spent a significant portion my summer holidays on the beach near a small fishing town called Elounda on the northern coast of Crete. My father, born and raised in Beiruit, was obsessed by the traditional Greek food that so closely resembles Lebanese cuisine. Almost every lunch and dinner was spent at our favourite taverna, "Cafe Neon", eating traditional Cretan food over blue and white checked tablecloths
amidst the olive groves. The annual 3 week binge on vine leaves, tzatziki, grilled octopus, fried calamari, slow cooked lamb and so on has left me with a real soft spot for everything and anything Aegean.
Despite being turned off by the vegetable-ness of Dakos as a child (more interested in the fried zucchini than anything else), I have grown incredibly fond of it; it is easy, cheap, quick and apart from anything else - completely and utterly delicious, reminiscent of the Cretan diet in all of its simplicity and salubrity.
stale bread or dried barley rusks
fresh tomatoes (finely diced)
greek feta (crumbled)
extra virgin olive oil
optional add ons
fresh herbs (mint, oregano or thyme)
kalamata olives or capers (chopped)
sea salt and black pepper, to taste
If you cannot find barley rusks, this recipe provides the perfect opportunity to make use of stale bread. If you are so inspired that you want to make this recipe NOW and do not have any stale bread, just slice up a loaf of your favourite bread and pop it in the oven at 50°C for 2-3 hours, or until hard to touch.
Dice the tomatoes into large chunks so that it is easy to remove the soft pulp and seeds from the middle. Remove and set aside, you will need these in a minute.
Dice the flesh of the tomato as finely as possible into small chunks and combine with the olive oil (about 3 tbsp. per large tomato), salt, pepper and half of the dried oregano in a bowl.
Scoop 1 heaped tablespoon of the seedy tomato pulp and rub into each slice of bread. Next, add a generous helping of the diced tomato mixture on to each slice of bread before sprinkling with crumbled feta, remaining dried oregano, and fresh herbs, olives or capers if being used. Drizzle with extra olive oil.
Kali orexi (καλή όρεξη)! - Bon appetit!
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