here are only few things that can initiate reactions that smell home. There smells, sounds and tastes that when combined properly they can take you all the way back to your childhood. One of the is the dished featured here today. All the way from the island of Crete, the island whose velvety soil, I felt for first time under my feet.The island were I had my first steps in life (and secretly wish to have my last steps). It is a simple dish with simple and humble ingredients as everything in life. Some bread some olive oil tomatoes and cheese, all bind together by the universal greek herb of oregano.
The paximadi, is a type of bread very common in Greece, and especially at the island of Crete. The bread that became a testament to the greek ingenuity and the flavor that survive the centuries. Long before refrigeration, and biology knowledge, people figured out that water is the number one reason for growth of mold. So they figured that if they dry the food, they will hinder or even eliminate the nasty mold. So they dried the fruit, the vegetables and the meat. The bread came a lot later. It was not just e method to preserve the food, but a method to preserve energy. You see lighting up the fire in the old wooden stove it required a lot of work, so they figured that if the make a lot of bread they will make up for this extra labor. But bread spoils. And then because of the careless of someone who after baking the bread put it back to the oven, they found out that slowly dried bread can last for ever. And there was paximadi. A bread born out of necessity carrying a flavor that lasted centuries, and even in the modern era of the refrigeration people are still seeking the hard bread that cracks pleasantly in the mouth, releasing a fine aroma of earthiness and nuttiness. A bread that when soaked revives and carries all the flavours of the earth in your mouth.
Ntakos is just a way to eat this bread, and probably the best reason to have it. It is the Ntakos, the tomato and the onion. The blending of the fresh and moist vegies, with the dry texture of the paximadi.
We will need:
- Ntakos (3 small rounds)
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 6 oz of ripe red tomatoes (I like cherry because they are sweeter)
- 1 Onion
- 3 oz of feta cheese
So the first step is to revive the paximadi. Soften it up a bit. I quickly pass ti overn cold running water. You don ‘t dank it, you don ‘t soak it you don ‘t boil it. Just pass it quickly. But make sure it is fully wet.
Spread them on a towel and
Wrap them for the rest of the prep time.
Take the tomatoes and run them through the grader. This will puree them and leave the peel separate.
You will need about a cup of tomato puree.
Go ahead and add the oregano in.
Stir it in, to hydrate and extract some of the oils.
Go ahead and peel the onion and make some vertical cuts to it.
Follow with the horizontal cuts.
You should have a finely minced onion.
Take a block of feta.
cut it vertically and horizontaly… just like the onion
Run your knife over the feta cubes to mince the further. And now…
Take your plate.
Arrange your paximadi.
Liberally add olive oil.
Add the onions.
cover with tomato and all their juice.
Add the feta cheese.
Top it of with some more oregano.
Add some small green olives.
Enjoy it with some ice cold ouzo. The other greek favorite.