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.
Okra lends itself to crispy frying, and here is another recipe that batters and fries it until crispy, before nestling it on a tomato sauce. It reminds me of fish and chip shop battered potatoes and other vegetables. This is a recipe from Ottolenghi, so it is definitely a modern take on the crispy okra and okra with tomato sauce themes. The okra in the fish-and-chip-shop style batter is topped with sour cream, a tomato and bread sauce, and a gorgeously green herb oil. The batter is made with a touch of polenta, and mixed with buttermilk which gives it a lovely tang.
There will be more herb oil than you need, but it is infinitely versatile. Use the remainder to drizzle onto soups or over roasted vegetables.
Are you looking for other Okra dishes? Read more about Okra here. And try Stir Fried Okra with Sesame Seed, Warm Salad of Charred Okra, Tomato and Preserved Lemon, and Pickled Okra.
Browse all of our Okra recipes, and all of the Ottolenghi dishes that we have made. All of our Ottolenghi dishes are here. Our Ottolenghi dishes from Plenty More are here. We have written about our experiences cooking through this book. Or explore our Late Autumn collection of 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.
While the current fashion of food photography and food videos has been helpful to many home cooks, especially when cooking unfamiliar dishes, it has done a great disservice to home cooking. The requirement for everything to be instagram-worthy has meant that the rustic dishes without visual appeal are sidelined and instagrammed out of existence. It’s a pity. More than that, it is a shame.
Moreover, the word Peasant as attached to food is beginning to be seen as derogatory. I have never thought of “Peasant food” as been anything “less than”. I think of it as extraordinary food being produced without the influence of fashion and with local and common ingredients. My real favourite sort of food. Isn’t it what we strive for at home – cost effective and flavoursome food with local ingredients?
I am often amazed by the simplicity of Indian home cooked dishes, and how much flavour can be put into a couple of ingredients with a couple of spices. These sorts of dishes, so simple, so easy, are rarely seen on social media. I hope you enjoy this one. This is a simple recipe – not the best looking, made with minimal ingredients, but very very tasty. Serve with some Indian bread as an afternoon snack or as part of a meal.
By the way, Do Pyaja (also spelt Pyaza) means double the onions or lots of onions. There are many recipes for this dish, from the Punjab through to Rajasthan. Some have peas or a dose of cream, for example, a more complex spice mix, and it can be a wet or dry curry. But I adore this recipe for its simplicity. It is real home cooking.
This recipe is one of the vegetarian recipes from our first blog which was in existence from 1995 – 2006. It is cross posted on our sister site, Heat in the Kitchen. It appears there as part of the Retro Recipes series of recipes which documents our vegetarian recipes from that first blog.
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.
Purslane is that lemony tart succulent-leaved plant that is considered a weed. In fact, for many years, I hounded it from the gardens that I had the pleasure to work in. But, well hello!, the leaves are beautiful in salads and even in cooked dishes.
This is a very simple salad, but delightful. It features Purslane, whereas we usually just added it to other salad ingredients. It also makes a great substitute for rocket and sorrel in your salads, if you don’t have any of those ingredients at hand.
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.