The Islands of Greece
Rusks, paximádia, are simply bread that has been dried in the oven so it keeps for longer. Originally they were made so that cooks didn’t have to light a fire every day to make bread and use up valuable fuel, and they were often taken out to sea by sailors and fishermen. Nowadays, rusks are used as the base for dakos, a simple but lovely combination of ripe tomatoes, feta, olive oil and dried Greek oregano, or as rustic croütons in salad. You will find dakos on islands all over the Aegean.
© 2024 Rebecca Seal / Hardie Grant Books · Reproduced with permission. · The Islands of Greece by Rebecca Seal (Hardie Grant, £25.00) Photography: Steven Joyce
Preheat the oven to 110 0C (225 0F/Gas ¼ ). Split the rolls into halves and place them on a tray in the oven. Leave to dry out and crisp up for 1 ¼ hours.
Meanwhile, cut the tomatoes in half across their middles (reserving the single tomato). Place a sieve over a bowl and put a box cheese grater in it. Place a folded tea towel under the bowl to stop it slipping. Grate the tomatoes against the coarse side of the grater, placing the cut side against the grater and using the tomato skin to protect your fingers. Let the juice drain off the tomatoes, then lift the flesh out of the bowl and discard the skins and juice. Mix a pinch
of salt with the grated tomato flesh, unless you have really ripe, full-flavoured tomatoes, and add 1 teaspoon of the olive oil. Chop the remaining whole tomato fairly finely, but so you still have some texture and stir it through the tomato mixture.
When the bread rolls are crisp and crunchy all the way through, remove from the oven and allow to cool.
Crumble the cheese roughly into largish chunks rather than tiny flakes.
To serve, top each piece of bread with a drizzle of olive oil, a couple of spoonfuls of the tomato mix and about a quarter of the cheese. Finish with a scattering of oregano, another drizzle of olive oil, and a couple of grinds of black pepper.