They say that the best food in Greece can be found on Crete. Not only is it a fertile island with an abundance of local produce bursting with flavor but also the recipes handed down from generation to generation seem to be as simple and genuine as the inhabitants of the island.
Dakos or koukouvaya (owl) is one of these simple dishes that is a meal in itself and seems to cover the basic needs of one’s daily nutritional intake.
You start off with a piece of dried rusk – paximadi – on which you pile diced tomatoes, crumbled feta cheese, capers and olives. You drizzle or pour (depending on whether you are counting calories or not!) olive oil and sprinkle dried oregano on top. You don’t really need to add salt because feta cheese is fairly salty itself.
Dried rusk comes in all forms and shapes but probably the most commonly used one for koukouvaya is the round one. The secret is to soak the rusk either with water or tomato juice so that it is not too tough on your teeth when biting down into the dakos. One can also break the rusk into pieces and let the diced tomatoes do the work of soaking the dried bread.
Variations of this Bruschetta-like dish include adding diced onion, olive paste, fresh basil instead of oregano or mizithra (a fresh goat’s cheese) instead of feta cheese.