Also known as kritharokoulora, Cretan dakos can usually be prepared in two different ways. One is a bruschetta-style dish with fresh tomato and plenty of extra virgin olive oil, known in Crete as koukouvayia and kouloukopsomo in eastern Crete.
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How to Make Cretan Dakos
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Dakos are one of the tastiest dishes you can sample in Crete during summer. It has all the freshness of our tasty tomatoes and the soft, creamy texture of local soft cheese, myzithra.
Today, I will show you the classic Dako dish you’re used to having in Crete, yet you can also use it to prepare our fantastic Cretan salad!
In fact, the barley rusk used to create the dakos can be cut into small, irregular pieces and -used as a sort of crouton, adds a distinct flavor to Crete’s most popular salads.
Ingredients for the Cretan Dako… and How to Replace Them!
You’ll need these ingredients to prepare your own Dakos at home!
A dako dish is often made with fresh myzithra cheese, which you can replace with very Greek feta cheese.
And yes, we know you won’t find myzithra around the corner if you’re not on Crete. However, you can always find alternatives or use your imagination to obtain a very similar dish!
>>> QUICK SOLUTION: If there’s no way for you to find feta Cheese (let alone myzithra), you can easily replace it with salted ricotta or even use some spread cream cheese, Philadelphia style. It won’t be the same as Cretan myzithra, but it will save the day!
Dakos is a super easy dish with very simple and seasonal ingredients. It is made with half a dako rusk and Greek summery toppings: tomato, oregano, cheese, olive oil, and sometimes cappers.
Locally known as paximadia, the rusks most commonly used to prepare dakos are often barley rusks. And if you love this dish as much as I do, it can be an easy solution to bring home a pack of rusks with you. They often have a very long shelf life.
Another option is to replace the rusk with any rustic bread cut into fairly thick slices and dried for a long time in the oven at a very low temperature, allowing most of the moisture to evaporate.
When buying Cretan barley rusk or dakos, make sure to get the softest variety available. If it is hard to break or bite into, you must sprinkle it with water or soak it slightly…
When doing this, please be extremely careful not to turn it into mush, so add just a few drops at a time and check how the rusk is soaking!
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Yes, another critical ingredient. Although not always easy to find abroad, good quality olive oil, if possible Cretan, can make all the difference in taste. Make sure you use a thick, dense oil for better results.
On Crete, get yourself a can of the tsounati olive variety olive oil; it’s a bit spicy and ideal for salads, uncooked vegetables, and dakos!
A Secret Dressing for Dakos?
To get the best possible dakos, a dakos that tastes like the one you might enjoy on Crete, you will first need to get a good Greek Salad Dressing ready.
When to Have a Dakos
Dakos is a fantastic summer dish for those days when it’s too hot to even move from the tavern at the beach.
It is light and delicious and can be easily made anywhere in the world if you manage to live without myzithra.
Cretan Dakos Recipe
- Dako barley rusks, usually one per person (slightly soaked in olive oil, water, or a mix of both, if needed).
- 1 large or 2 small grated tomatoes (save that tomato juice).
- 2 tbsp. of grated feta, mizithra, or anthotyro (soft white Greek cheeses) or a combination of the above. You can replace it with soft, slightly salty, or sour cheese.
- 1 tbsp. of Greek salad dressing.
- After making sure that your dakos are soft enough, place them on a tray, not too close to each other; make sure that the tray can gather all the juices.
- Soak them a bit by adding the leftover tomato juice and half (1/2) tbsp.) of the Greek salad dressing. Otherwise, use pure Extra Virgin olive oil.
- Add the grated tomatoes on top after seasoned with salt and pepper.
- Add a good quantity of myzithra cheese or crumbled feta cheese over it and sprinkle with oregano.
- Decorate with any of the toppings mentioned on the list, add some extra Greek salad dressing, and more salt and pepper to your liking.
Servings are normally one per person. Dakos are a great meze, They can be an appetizer but also a complete light lunch, or a late night snack.
Best Cretan Wines to Pair with Dakos
- Red Cretan Kotsifali
- White Cretan Vilana
- In the mood for a rosé? Try dakos with Manousakis Pink or Dourakis Grenache Rosé.
Pin this Cretan Recipe! How to Make Original Cretan Dakos
About my blog:
I moved to Crete in 2016. During these years, I learned much about the island.
In Crete, I juggle being a solo mom, hosting culinary tours, and writing for several travel media.
I’ve written for Greek Reporter, published travel guides about Greece, co-authored DK Eyewitness Top 10 Crete, and had more glasses of frappe than any regular person could ever handle.