Paximadia is a traditional dried bread that the Greeks have been making since antiquity. It is usually made out of barley and wheat, water and salt. This makes them sweeter, nuttier and more crunchy than their wheat-only counterparts. The bread is very hard and needs to be softened before you eat it, with water, wine, tomato juice or olive oil. The rusk is baked twice, so you can keep it for a very long time, even years.
All the Greeks have paximadia in the house. I remember going to the olive farm and always taking rusks with us. My father put some wine on them and we ate them with olives. You can eat paximadia in different ways, but the Cretan recipe Dakos is the most famous. It’s traditionally eaten with Cretan Mitzithra cheese, but you often see it (outside of Crete) made with feta. Dakos is simply rusks, tomatoes, feta and olive oil and it’s so delicious!
Paximadia is an important part of Cretan culture. Their rusks have been awarded PGI status (Protected Geographical Indication) and are part of their daily diet. You will see them proudly served all over the island.
I hope you feel inspired to try this Cretan tradition. To make it, you first cut the tomatoes in pieces.
Put the paximadia on the bottom of a salad bowl: moisten the rusks with some of the tomato juice that comes out of the diced tomatoes and drizzle with the olive oil. Then cover the rusks with the cut tomato.
Place small cubes of feta on top of the tomato.
Take a bottle of your finest olive oil and pour on as much as you like.
Add salt and black pepper to taste. The Dakos is ready, however black olives, capers, oregano and mint leaves are a lovely addition.
Please let me know how your own Dakos turned out!