Stunning Cretan Dako Salad

Cretan Dako Salad

Do yourself a favor, whenever you visit the island, forget about ordering a Greek salad and go for the authentic tastes of Crete. Cretan salad is original, tasteful, and an amazing alternative for those who don’t love feta cheese in their salads!

This particular Cretan dako salad, a bit different from the traditional Cretan salad, is a great alternative to your usual dakos!

Cretan Salad… or Salads?

They say that there is not real original recipe for Cretan salad, and as a matter of fact, this is a kind of salad that embodies the authentic spirit of the local cuisine: it has whatever it is available in the fridge!

Joking or not, this has always been the true spirit of Cretan cuisine, there’s usually a canonical recipe which is conveniently transformed according to whatever ingredient it is that we have.

A bit like you also do, if you don’t live on the island, and want to recreate those tastes you miss. So yes, Cretan Salad can have a huge variety of ingredients.

Traditional Cretan Salad

These two are usually found inside a Cretan salad.

Variety is always key, specially on the island. Taking into account that the main keyword when it comes to the local gastronomy is seasonal, then a salad will always include those products that you will find in the market. That means that tomatoes might miss in January, but that won’t mean that this salad will be less Cretan!

Almost any Cretan salad will include boiled potatoes (or eggs, or both), but it can also have beetroot, any variety of lettuce (or any local and always fresh green variety, such as the delicious papoules you can find in the local markets in summer).

However, in this particular recipe, we have left eggs and potatoes out, and focused on raw ingredients, to make it easier, faster, and perfect for summer!

Cretan Salad Dressings

Dressings for salads.

It goes without saying that, whenever on the island, you won’t find many locals relying on already made dressings. We make things simple and tasty with just three local products:

  • Extra virgin Cretan olive oil
  • Freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • Sea salt (or plain salt).

As an alternative, we have used this delicious Greek salad dressing in our recipe, but you can be more creative if you want, for instance you can add extra flavor making a wise use of locally grown oregano, rosemary, and even thyme.

However, different varieties of vinegar have made their way to the Cretan table, mostly balsamic vinegar with local flavors, such as orange, honey, pomegranate, or even figs, either fresh or dry. They are really delicious and can add an extra twist.

What about Petimezi?


Others prefer to stick to the most traditional condiments, and would enjoy seasoning this salad with petimezi.

Petimezi is a local grape molasses, as old as the island, which adds a touch of raw sweetness to both sweet and savory dishes.

Whether it is to give flavor to cakes or biscuits, top Greek yogurt, season vegetables, or cook meat, petimezi is a very versatile ingredient in Cretan cuisine,

Try some next time you’re on the island, and if you like it, bring a small bottle back home!

Cretan Wine Pairing

This salad can taste even better when paired with a glass of local white Vilana. We eagerly recommend Vilana Gavalas, a family winery in the region of Heraklion that produces amazing wines both with local and foreign grape varieties.

Cretan Dako Salad Recipe

Cretan Dako Salad

Cretan salad with dakos (1)
Prep Time 15 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes


  • 3 Cretan barley rusks or paximadia
  • 4-5 tomatoes or 2 handfuls of cherry tomatoes
  • 1 grated tomato
  • ½ cucumber, finely diced
  • 1 green pepper, finely diced
  • ½ onion, finely diced
  • 1 fresh chopped onion
  • 1 tbsp. of capers
  • 1 tbsp. of small Cretan olives, pitted and sliced in half
  • 3-4 fresh mint or basil leaves, cut in half
  • 3 tbsp of Greek salad dressing
  • 200 gr. of myzithra cheese or a 200 gr. of crumbled feta cheese
  • salt, pepper, fresh or dry oregano


  1. Make sure your barley rusks are soft enough to be bitten into, it is always a good idea to soak them by adding some extra virgin olive oil and a bit of Greek salad dressing.
  2. Add tomatoes, cucumber, chopped green pepper and onion.
  3. Mix in the mint or basil leaves, add some extra Greek salad dressing and toss.
  4. Sprinkle on top with capers and olives.
  5. Add the myzithra cheese (or some feta, if you prefer), sprinkle with oregano, add extra salt and pepper if needed.

Have you tried this version of Cretan Salad? Let me know!

Did you cook it?

Tag @mycretanrecipe on Instagram and show me the results!

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