Welcome to 2021! We hope you all had a peaceful end of the year and are somewhat ready for the challenges and fun times ahead. During these first weeks of the year many of us reflect on the year past and make plans for the future. Food, of course, is always part of our new year’s resolutions. No matter what these are (eat more vegetables!), this week we have a simple, fun recipe for you. We are kicking off 2021 with a very unique pesto-like dish.

The inspiration for this dish came to us when faced with plenty of wilted greens in the fridge. Usually we go for pesto, but alas, there were no nuts at hand. But there’s always dakos around, so we figured, why not give this a try?

The result is magnificent! With a much more intense and robust in flavour than your classic pesto, this recipe is perfect to accompany all sorts of vegetables, from roasted carrots to boiled broccoli. Or you know, just eat it straight from the jar.

Makes 1 jar
2 cups of greens (we used spinach and parsley)
½ cup olive oil, plus more if needed – depending how thick they want it
50g dakos carob rusks
1 tbsp 17C lemon oil
2 tbsp white balsamic vinegar
salt

In a food processor or pestle and mortar blitz together the rusks until they resemble like little rocks. Add the greens, olive oil, lemon oil and vinegar and blitz everything together, until you get a pesto-like texture. Taste, season with salt, adding more olive oil or vinegar if needed.

Serve with more dakos rusks!


It’s all about tomatoes these days! The market is full of aromatic tomatoes, of various varieties, colours and sizes. In our June newsletter we had a selection of summer recipes with tomatoes for you.

Now. Are you ready for the simplest, yet most fascinating summer recipe ever? This week’s recipe was a spontaneous creation. Which, as most spontaneous creations go, ended up being spectacular.

The inspiration for this recipe was simply a half-full jar of sun-dried tomatoes.We often use sun-dried tomatoes in our recipes, and always keep a jar in the fridge. Our sun-dried tomatoes are organic, and come from a small Greek cooperative in Northern Greece. They are naturally dried in the sun, placed in large wooden trays with sea salt. They are then preserved in a delicious extra virgin olive oil with oregano, pepper, vinegar and bay leaves, which we will use in this recipe!

This is a recipe made with juicy summer tomatoes, but if you want to prepare this tomato sauce in the winter, you can use our tomato passata instead, which is made with fresh tomatoes picked now in the summer!

Makes 1 large jar

½ jar (100g) sun-dried tomatoes and their oil
2 tomatoes, or 400g tomato passata
½ teaspoon dried oregano
salt (to taste)

Cut the tomatoes in large pieces and place in a blender. Add the sun-dried tomatoes and their oil, oregano and salt. Whizz everything together until smooth. Taste and season with more salt if needed.

This makes for a delicious dip, which you can enjoy as is, with some crusty bread. You can also use it as a sauce, in your home-made pizzas, on top of Dakos rusks or bruschettas, add it in your gemista stuffing, and of course enjoy hot or cold with any pasta!

 


We really love more substantial salads. Salads that have crunchy things, some grains, loads of vegetables. The bulgur-asparagus is one of our favourites. But we wouldn’t say no to a pasta salad either. You see, when the weather is hot these dishes make for the perfect dinner.

For this week’s recipe our inspiration came from our wine tasting event at the end of May. Over the course of a few hours we tasted many fascinating wines and grape varieties from the island of Santorini (including a life changing mavrotragano). But let’s circle back to food. You see, we had some cucumbers left from the wine tasting. I like cucumbers, they are very refreshing and crunchy, a very good combination of characteristics for a vegetable if you ask me.

So this week we have for you a non-grain/grain bowl. For this dish we have swapped the grains for dakos barley croutons. Trust me, these little croutons make you feel full, body and soul. Dakos rusks are delicious. If you haven’t tried our traditional dakos salad, now is the time to do so!

For this week’s recipe we also used our mature 6-month feta cheese, made from sheep’s and goats’ milk and matured in wooden barrels. And yes, this feta cheese was also part of our wine tasting!

Creamy avocado and a light olive oil and red wine vinegar dressing complete this dish. So come by the market and get everything you need for a spring salad less ordinary. Did we say it is also super easy to make?

For 2 people you will need:
1 cup dakos barley croutons
1 medium cucumber, cut in sticks
70g feta cheese
1 large avocado
5tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
salt

In a large bowl place the dakos croutons and cucumber. Cut the feta cheese in cubes or crumble. Slice the avocado. Add feta and avocado to your bowl. Drizzle the olive oil and vinegar. Toss well so that all ingredients are mixed together and coated in olive oil and vinegar. Season with salt.


This week we’ve got something special for you! A sneak peak into our March Cooking workshop! For this one, Marianna teamed up with lovely Despoina Siahuli, for a 3-hour Greek feast! Despoina shared her skills and Oliveology Cooks learned to make delicious Greek dishes. Marianna talked about our favourite Oliveology ingredients and their stories. Everyone gathered together and shared food and wine in the end.

In case you missed it, there will be more!
But to give you an idea, this week we have prepared for you one of Despoina’s recipes from the March workshop! Despoina put together a beautiful combination of flavours: dakos rusks, grape molasses, feta cheese, hazelnuts. All of these coming together with seasonal greens!

We’ve adapted her recipe, steamed our greens and used more dakos and feta, but the core flavour palet is the same. And it’s delicious!

So make the recipe and sign up for the next two cooking classes with Despoina and Marianna! We look forward to having you there cook with us.

Serves 4 as a side or two as main

Salad
300g of spring greens
50g roasted hazelnuts
100g dakos croutons
100g feta cheese

Dressing
¼ clove of garlic, minced into a paste with salt
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 tbsp grape molasses
4 tbsp olive oil
salt, pepper

In a large pot with salted, boiling water blanch your greens for 3-4 minutes. Remove and place in a bowl with iced cold water. Let them cool.

To make your dressing, whisk together the garlic, vinegar, grape molasses. Slowly add the olive oil. Taste and season with salt and pepper (but remember, feta will add a layer of saltiness too).

Crush your hazelnuts and crumble the feta cheese.

In a large bowl toss together greens, hazelnuts, dakos croutons, feta cheese and dressing.

I liked this salad more the next day, the flavours all blend together and dakos is soft. Try it both ways and let us know which you prefer!

 

 


What is Dakos you say?

Dakos salad is one of the most iconic Greek dishes and probably one of the simplest to make. For us Greeks, it brings back memories of Greek summers. Of time spent by the sea, in the village. This is why often we eat it all year round. And in the big cities most of us now live.

What is dakos, many may ask. Dakos is a hard rusk traditionally made with barley. Barley mixed with water, salt and sourdough creates these delicious dark brown rusks. Barley gives a more intense flavour. Nowadays many make dados rusks using wheat, or a mixture of wheat and barley. But please try and get the barley ones. Especially if this is your first time tasting this. Barley after all is good for your body. It is a rich source of nutrients, that are essential for you, including protein, dietary fibre vitamins and minerals. So go on, swap wheat for barley for a bit. Dakos is good for your soul, too. The way it is usually prepared in Greece, originating from the island of Crete, forms the perfect filling lunch or dinner. Even breakfast if you prefer savoury flavours in the morning.

Our dakos rusks are made just for us by a family owned bakery in Chania, Crete. They still use their family recipe from 1930’s and bake them in traditional ovens using olive wood. These rusks come in various forms and shapes. The ones we prefer at Oliveology are the round ones that come cut in half.
Tradition has it that the top part of the rusk, slightly lighter in texture as it containing more air, is given to guests. The hosts always take the bottom part. Greek hospitality through food, wouldn’t you say?

There are many ways to use dakos; it is so versatile. During our cooking workshop  our guest chef Despina Siahuli even crumbles it on top of strapatsada (the greek version of shakshuka), a dish made with eggs and tomatoes.

Yes, tomatoes go great with dakos. Ideally you need juicy, ripe tomatoes. But if you can’t find any, our passata is an ideal substitution. Just add a few cherry tomatoes for texture. The way we usually prepare and savour dakos is simple, yet includes flavours that smell of Greece. Tomatoes, oregano, feta cheese, olive oil, olives. We always add capers too. We won’t give you quantities for this recipe, as you should adjust everything according to your own personal taste. Every household in Crete has their own way of making dakos after all.

Ingredients:
Dakos barley rusks
Tomatoes (or combination of passata and chopped tomatoes)
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Feta Cheese
Dried oregano
Kalamata Olives 
Capers

Start by laying your rusks on a platter. You can prepare individual plates, but the Greek way of serving food is sharing it. Drizzle some water and olive oil on top. This will moisten the hard rusks. Scatter the passata and chopped tomatoes, with all their liquids. Don’t worry, the rusks will absorb them all. Crumble some feta cheese. Scatter olives and capers. Add oregano generously. Drizzle with lots of olive oil. Smell it. Smells like Greece, doesn’t it?

Here is what you need for the recipe

Start by laying your rusks on a platter. You can prepare individual plates, but the Greek way of serving food is sharing it. Drizzle some water and olive oil on top. This will moisten the hard rusks. Scatter the passata and chopped tomatoes, with all their liquids. Don’t worry, the rusks will absorb them all. Crumble some feta cheese. Scatter olives and capers. Add oregano generously. Drizzle with lots of olive oil. Smell it. Smells like Greece, doesn’t it?


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.