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Cretan Salad (Dakos)
On the island of Crete, we learned there are countless versions of the local salad called dakos, which is similar to a basic Greek salad combined with an Italian panzanella. A key component of dakos are barley rusks, which have a decidedly whole-grain flavor. Their dry, crunchy texture absorbs the dressing and the vegetables’ juices without turning mushy. Our favorite dakos was the one served at Ntounias restaurant in Drakona that combined more than a dozen ingredients—including roasted vegetables, leafy greens, two types of alliums, plus tomatoes, cucumbers and bold accents like olives and sun-dried tomatoes. This is our much-simplified adaptation of that salad. Marianna Leivaditaki, London-based chef and native of Crete, suggested that we use whole-grain sourdough bread, cut into chunks and toasted, for the barley rusks and pomegranate molasses for the grape molasses that was drizzled onto the dakos at Ntounias. Another essential ingredient is cheese. The fresh, milky sheep’s- or goat’s-milk cheese called mizithra is traditional but very difficult to find in the U.S., so instead we use feta.
medium tomatoes (about 12 ounces total), cored and cut into 8 wedges each
Kosher salt and ground black pepper