If you have ever travelled to Greece, it’s most likely that you have lost your heart to dakos, like Yotam Ottolenghi, this mouth-watering snack.

Cretan rusk, paximadi or dakos is the basis of the Cretan snack. It might seem confusing but dakos is the word for the Cretan rusk (paximadi) in Crete as well as the salad with it. Paximadi (or the dish with it) can also be found under the name of koukouvagia. Another brilliant version is the one from Kythera, ladopaksimada” (rusks baked with olive oil).

A rusk is twice-baked, dehydrated bread, in order to be maintained and eatable longer than fresh bread. It was considered a staple in Greece, especially for all those families who couldn’t knead daily. This product was essential to the diet of sailors, shepherds, farmers and all those who would spend a lot of time away from home. Consequently, this food is considered to be one of the first standardised products in Greece.

This tasty alternative to bread is flour-based of course, except that it is made mainly or exclusively out of barley flour. In addition, it has a high nutritional value; as it is rich in a number of vitamins of the B complex including folic acid and B6. As far as barley rusks are concerned, they are rich in magnesium, selenium, amino acids, fibre, phosphorus, silica, chromium and antioxidants. It has no preservatives but, it does have salt.

It is shaped either in thick wedges, rounds split horizontally in the middle, or into smaller crouton bites. Mind your teeth though, rusks are quite hard and must be softened with either water, wine, olive oil or broth before eating.

A secret for the best dakos you’ve ever had: sprinkle water on the rusks in order to soften them before adding the tomatoes. Make sure you use ripe, juicy tomatoes, grated over the rusks so it absorbs all the juice. Season and drizzle with some evoo. Finish the dish with crumbled feta or mizithra cheese (or a mix of both), a generous drizzle of evoo, some wild Greek oregano, Kalamata olives, capers or kritamo, if desired.

Serve immediately and enjoy!

But don’t limit yourself to dakos: add your rusks to salads and soups for volume, enjoy them with delicious yoghurt, a sprinkle of sea salt and a drizzle of olive oil, great with a fried/ poached egg as well, a classic when combined with cheese or charcuterie; a product that is wise to keep in your pantry, always.

Find our Cretan barley rusks  at Borough Market and start your delicious story from there.

Learn the classic Dakos Salad recipe.

Photo credit: Psilakis N.& M., Kastanas I., O politismos tis elias-To elaiolado, Karmanor, 2003.

We are so proud of our olives! Thank you to our wonderful producer Sakellaropoulos Estate for the incredible ‘superfood’ olives they supply to us every single year and The Huffington Post for the wonderful article and showcase of the study and research on olives.

“After testing 30 types of Greek organic olives, for this study they selected the Kalamata type olives produced by the Sakellaropoulos Family Estate because they were found to contain 5 times higher concentration of hydroxytyrosol and tyrosol than the other commercially available varieties. The organic olives selected for this study contained 1300mg per kg of hydroxytyrosol and 560mg per kg of tyrosol. Daily consumption of only 5 of these olives provides 25mg of hydroxytyrosol and 10 mg of tyrosol. This is significant because, just like EVOO, not all olives are created the same. The key to health benefits of olives and EVOO is the type and amount of phenolic compounds they contain.

Why is the study of one Greek producer’s olives good news for you? It’s this: Many producers are following this and other research and adjusting production methods to optimise the healthy compounds in their products. It shows the emerging trend for conscientious food producers to choose quality over quantity and to serve the growing demand of health conscious and informed individuals who want to know where they can find these functional foods. ”

Read the full article  on huffingtonpost by Marilyn Harding

Buy our ‘superfood’ olives online, on Farmdrop or visit us at Borough Market  Wednesday-Saturday every week.