Make Ahead

Cretan Tomato Salad

September  6, 2011
Author Notes

My next door neighbors took a trip to Greece back in May, and returned determined to recreate a fresh tomato salad that they enjoyed in Crete. Thanks to a vibrant Greek neighborhood in Baltimore, they found the key ingredient to this tasty dish - Barley Rusks (Tsiknakis). Barley Rusks are a cross between really stale bread and crackers - more like ginormous croutons. They're thick, hearty and have a wonderful nutty, whole grain flavor. But, they are nearly impossible to consume unless you soften them first. They also make a great stew or soup thickener. This salad couldn't be easier to make and is so good for you! The trick is letting the olive oil and fresh tomatoes soak into the rusks for about 15 minutes to soften them a little. This is the perfect way to use your best, ripest, garden tomatoes. I've pictured the rusks above so you know what to look for in your local Greek market - but you can also order them on line from Amazon. (Here's the link to Amazon if you're curious: Offerings

  • Serves 2 as a side salad, or 1 for a nice lunch.
  • 2 pieces of barley rusks
  • 2 fresh, ripe, garden tomatoes
  • 2 - 3 tablespoons best quality extra virgin olive oil - Greek is perfect
  • 1 generous pinch of sea salt
  • Fresh Ground black pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup Fresh, greek sheep's milk feta - crumbled.
  • 2 teaspoons Fresh greek oregano - lightly chopped (optional)
In This Recipe
  1. Place the barley rusks in a plastic zip lock bag, and using a heavy pan or rolling pin crush them lightly. You want big chunks, not crumbs. Place on a plate or in two salad bowls.
  2. In a large bowl, grate your tomatoes using the largest holes on a box grater. It's messy, but worth it. Discard any leftover skins.
  3. Pour the grated tomatoes over the rusks.
  4. Sprinkle with salt and pepper from above, then drizzle the olive oil over all. Another reason to let the salad sit for a few minutes is to let the salt melt and bring out the flavor in the tomatoes.
  5. Sprinkle with the fresh feta cheese and oregano.
  6. Go do something for 10 - 15 minutes. Put in a load of laundry, make the bed, whatever.
  7. Get a fork and dig in to a wonderfully rustic, healthy salad.

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