Have you ever heard of dakos?
I had never tasted this simple Cretan dish until very recently. With its blend of dried bread, chopped tomatoes, herbs, olives, and crumbled feta, Dakos reminds me of panzanella. But I prefer dakos even more, which features huge, crunchy lumps of dried barley rusk — way more fibrous and interesting than normal bread. (Though I would love to make dakos with a loaf of my own sourdough!) The rusk is soaked in a mixture of water and olive oil until it becomes tender, and then gets dressed with a mixture of vegetables and cheese. Magically, soaked rusk gets both mushy and crunchy. It’s insanely delicious. (We added fresh basil, dried oregano, and sun-dried tomatoes to our dakos, which is a little less traditional but no less tasty.)
We made a few other traditional Cretan dishes, like an addictive dip of pureed fava beans. Cretans like to pair the dip with finely chopped raw cipollini — so genius. They also tend to douse their pureed favas in a lake of olive oil, but we were a little more cautious. A little goes a long way.
(P.S. That slaw-looking thing at the bottom isn’t cabbage — it’s my new favorite vegetable in the world, white radicchio. It looks like chicory and tastes a little like Belgian endive. I love bitter, so it really, really hit the spot, especially when dressed up with a touch of Grecian honey, sunflower oil, and some Dijon mustard.)