Throughout Italy and Greece, dried bread is common – bread that has been baked, sliced, then baked again until very very dry. The most loved use of this bread, called Dakos or Paximadia in Greece and Friselle in Italy, is in salads where the juice of the tomatoes and oil and vinegar dressing soak into the bread, softening it and adding the flavours of Summer. They can also be used like a bruschetta as a base for a variety of Mediterranean toppings.
With some itsy bitsy tomatoes in hand, looking more like jelly beans than tomatoes, we made a Tomato and Walnut Salad with Pomegranate Molasses Dressing. A perfect choice, as we had made our own Pomegranate Molasses, and had whole walnuts sitting on the kitchen bench. You can of course, purchase pomegranate molasses – I find the Middle Eastern shops have the best ones.
It was Lucy’s recipe, from Nourish Me, that we went to for inspiration. It’s a pretty easy salad – take some juicy tomatoes, and make an interesting dressing with garlic, cinnamon and pomegranate molasses. Pretty good, as all of Lucy’s recipes are.
Having just made Dakos (the wonderful Greek salad), using Dakos (the bread that has been dried until very hard), we turned to a recipe for baking Dakos (bread) with chickpeas and tomatoes, spices and feta. It is delicious, and it is just the day for turning the oven on.
The recipe is another one of Ottolenghi’s, but not from his books. It is published on the Ottolenghi website. It is a great way to use up a packet of Dakos crisp bread, and I know you will enjoy it. Cook the chickpeas the day before if you like (or use canned ones).
The dakos becomes quite soft as it is soaked in tomato juices and a marinade of red wine vinegar and oil. The contrast of the vinegar in the dacos with the tomatoes and chickpeas is absolutely divine. Cook the recipe using a table-friendly oven proof dish, so you can take it direct from oven to table. It is harder to plate, but not impossible.
Browse all of our Dakos recipes and our Greek dishes. Our Baked dishes are here. and all of our Ottolenghi dishes are here.. We have written about our experiences cooking through his book Plenty More. Or explore our Mid Summer recipes.
This is a salad with flavours of the Middle East, taking burghul and tomatoes and mixing them with spices, walnuts and pomegranate molasses.
It is a lovely salad, so well suited to Autumn and early Winter (if you can still get good tomatoes). Burghul is available from Middle Eastern groceries – our local shop has about 5 different varieties. This salad uses fine burghul.
Are you after other Burghul dishes? Try Tomato and Walnut Salad with Pomegranate Dressing, A Quick Burghul Salad with Olives, Pomegranate and Hazelnuts, and Cauliflower, Mung Bean and Broken Wheat Kitchari.
Did you know there are so many different types of Burghul, from extra fine to extra coarse? You must search out your Middle Eastern grocery and explore the different types. At the moment, we are using a coarse one that comes mixed with small pieces of toasted vermicelli noodles. Its delicious and the noodles add a lovely visual and textural effect.
This is a lovely easy salad where Burghul is mixed chickpeas, and with tomatoes, herbs and spices. Like most salads made from grains, not much is needed to make the salad utterly delicious. The likes of Ottolenghi may disagree with me, they layer fabulous flavours upon fabulous flavours, but for weekdays, for the utter enjoyment of the ingredients, and indeed for frugal pantries, the simple approach is utterly delicious.
Are you looking for similar recipes? Try Chickpea Salad with Olives, Baked Dakos with Tomatoes and Chickpeas, Burghul with Pinenuts and Sultanas, Burghul Salad with Pomegranates, Olives and Hazelnuts, and Chickpea Salad with Preserved Lemon and Feta.
Or browse all of our Burghul recipes, and our Chickpea recipes. All of our many many salads are here, or check just the Bittman Salads that we have cooked. Alternatively, explore our Early Winter dishes.
Dakos, the salad, is a loved salad of Crete, made with rock hard crisp breads and tomatoes, feta and olives. Ottolenghi has a version in his book Plenty More, born of his stay in Crete where he fell in love with it.
Dakos is alsothe name given to oven-dried breads (often called rusks), which are made with barley to make them sweeter, nuttier and more crunchy than their wheat-only counterparts. Spread out on a plate and covered with the best ripest chopped tomatoes, good olive oil, some crumbled white cheese and black olives, they are seriously addictive. (Confusingly, both this dish and the unadorned rusks themselves are called Dakos!)
Cretan barley rusks aren’t easy to come by (try Greek grocers or online), but the salad Dakos is easy to make with any dried bread, e.g. the Italian Frese Integrali (aka friselle, freselle, frisedde, fresedde, frise) or the Swedish wholemeal Krisprolls, which are more commonly available in some supermarkets and many specialty stores. The tomato juices and vinegar seep into and soften the dry bread as they mix with the creamy cheese and olive oil, to create a timeless Greek experience.
However, if you don’t have access to Dakos or other rusks, try drizzling some medium thick slices of wheat bread with olive oil and baking for 10 – 15 mins in a 175C – 180C oven. They need to be hard, and the ingredients of the salad soak into the bread to soften it and make it addictively delicious.
The taste of any simple tomato-based salad is dependent on the quality of the tomatoes. There is a rich and beefy depth to end-of-season tomatoes that can exceed even those of high summer, but if yours are anything other than bursting with flavour, a pinch of sugar or a few drops of balsamic vinegar will help draw out their natural sweetness. And maybe mix your feta with some ricotta, to simulate the flavour of the sweet Cretan mizithra cheese, which is often served with dakos. (Thanks for this advice, Ottolenghi.)
This is an Ottolenghi dish from Plenty More – we are cooking our way through this book. We feel free to substitute ingredients that are not readily available in our local area.
In fact it is Ottolenghi Cooking the Books Day on the blog – one of two days per month where we publish the latest recipes we have tried in our project of cooking from Ottolenghi’s books – those we have cooked directly and those we have been inspired by. Currently we are cooking from Plenty More, but not ignoring his other books completely. Note that I often massage the recipes to suit what is available from our garden and pantry. For the original recipes, check his books and his Guardian column.
Browse all of our Tomato Salads, and all of our Salads. Our Ottolenghi dishes from Plenty More are here. We have written about our experiences cooking through this book. Or explore our Mid Summer dishes.
We use Australian measurements: 1 tspn = 5ml; 1 Tblspn = 20ml; 1 cup = 250ml.
Quinoa, once a darling of every food blogger and health-follower-of-fashion is now a little off-trend. Never mind, that never bothered us. We still love it, even though it is not a constant staple item in this pantry.
Let’s remedy that. This is a salad with lots of parsley, juicy tomatoes and crunchy pinenuts. Simple, but it is bound to make you fall in love with Quinoa all over again. The lemon juice is wonderful in this salad, and today I added some chopped cumquat pickles to enhance that tang.
This is a Bittman Salad. We are counting down to finishing making his 101 Salads – all the vegetarian ones, and we modified many of the non-vegetarian ones. Less than 10 left to make.
For a change we bring you a salad that features either boondi or puffed rice. You can buy these easily at your Indian grocer. If purchasing puffed rice from the supermarket, make sure that you are not buying sweetened cereal. You need an unsweetened one for this dish.
Boondi are a deep fried, pearl sized, crispy Indian snack food prepared from gram flour (chickpea flour) and few spices. Make sure you have the unsweetened variety of these also. They are available from Indian groceries. Boondi often comes with its own prepared spice mix included in the packet. You can add it to the salad.
Sometimes, particularly when cooking large batches of dishes, we skip corners and the steps that enhance the complexity and sophistication of the dish go by the wayside. And this is Ok – it still tastes jolly amazing.
This rasam is in that category. The recipe is for 2’ish cups (four small serves or 2 large ones), but it can be scaled up. This is the way that rasam is often cooked when 30 or so people need to be fed, and in our house, it might be made this way when it is 15 mins to dinner time and we just need to get it on the table.
Pasta is back in fashion! The supermarket shelves are bowing under the weight of the multitude of different types and brands of pasta. Italian shops are extending their shelves to stock the increased range. Customers are querying staff about the different sorts and the differences between brands.
The local Italian shop is amazing, their staff very knowledgeable, and the range of pastas outstanding. Using a good quality pasta makes quite a difference.