Did you know that there are more than 10,000 varieties of tomatoes? Not to mention, lots of ways to enjoy all of those varieties. Today, I prepared a simple and quick dish called dakos (or ntakos) that utilizes tomatoes at their best; salad meets crostini or Greek-style bruschetta. Tomatoes get better and better as the summer goes on, so I may have jumped the gun a bit (as tomatoes are just coming into season in Pennsylvania). Nonetheless, this is most definitely a dish that you can enjoy now and for several months to come.
It's always fun to bring a bit of travel home with you. For me, this typically includes a suitcase full of pottery and various foodstuffs (olive oil, wine, and bottarga), not to mention fond food memories (and no shortage of photos, many related to food and dishes enjoyed along the way).
I encountered dakos on my first trip to Crete back in 2005. Just about every Greek restaurant in Greece features a Greek salad, otherwise known as horiatiki salata. While you can't go wrong with a good horiatiki salata, there's more to explore. In order to change up the usual routine, we would often order a Cretan staple, dakos (in addition to a few sides of horta [e.g., stamnagathi], boiled wild mountain greens that we noticed the locals eating). A good rule of thumb, if the locals are eating it or it's a local delicacy, try it (there's not a whole lot I won't try at least once).
Dakos is a Cretan meze consisting of oven-dried bread (traditionally, barley rusks) topped with juicy, vine-ripened tomatoes, plenty of cheese (feta and Mizithra/Myzithra, the latter being a traditional Greek fresh goat and/or sheep cheese), Greek oregano, olives or capers, and always finished with a healthy drizzle of Greek (Cretan) extra virgin olive oil.
As far as the main course, if there's grilled octopus, fresh grilled sardines, or a whole grilled fish on a menu (in Greece), that's all I need to be happy. You can't go wrong with any type of freshly caught seafood or fish prepared simply and divinely on the grill.
I vividly recall one restaurant (Pan y Theo, on the island of Paxos), where the owner commented, 'if we ordered the whole grilled fish and it wasn't the best whole grilled fish we ever had, then the meal was on him.' Pretty bold. But, I have to admit, that was one damn good fish. It's the simple things in life, when done well, that are truly memorable.
I picked up the barley rusks (here) on a recent trip to Brooklyn, where we also stopped by Octopus Garden to stock up on frozen octopus, ten pounds all said and done :-) If you don't have access to a Greek grocery or can't find rusks, you could always substitute with toasted bread, as you would prepare for crostini, brushed with olive oil and then toasted in the oven until crispy. Different, but still tasty, as long as you have good tomatoes.
If you are able to find rusks, don't be alarmed if they appear hard or seem stale. They are in fact very dry (after all, they are oven-dried) and will keep for ages. Rusks will soften up when you moisten them with a little water and as they soak up juices from the tomatoes and the olive oil.
Let the liquid gold flow...if you couldn't tell, I love olive oil.
I've topped the dakos with some microgreens. I'm growing an assortment at the moment -- radish, onion, broccoli rabe, red amaranth. These are broccoli rabe, which popped up the soonest and were ready to be harvested. Here's an old post I did on growing microgreens. It's fun and easy to do.