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a dish of Cretan ntakos

Cretan ntakos recipe

by Marianna Leivaditaki

Cretan ntakos is, without doubt, the best quick snack during the summer months. It is traditionally a cold dish made with barley rusks, grated tomatoes and creamy fresh mizithra cheese. It’s usually made when the tomatoes are so ripe you can smell them being grated from a distance. For us, it was the snack to have after a long day on the beach, sitting on the veranda with a cold beer and getting ready for the evening stroll. This version is the one you will typically find in Crete during the summer months. If you are unable to find a nice fresh goat’s curd, you can blitz some feta with a touch of olive oil and a splash of water until thick and silky and pour that on top of your tomatoes. If the feta is very acidic, add a teaspoon of sugar when blitzing.

Serves 4–6 as a sharing plate

— 3–4 very ripe red tomatoes

— 2–4 Cretan barley rusks (paksimadia), depending on size

— 150g (51/2oz) Cretan mizithra (traditional goat’s cheese) or fresh goat’s curd

— 1 small handful of good-quality olives with stones, preferably black

— Extra virgin olive oil

— 1 tsp oregano

— Sea salt, to taste

Grate the tomatoes using the coarse side of a box grater and place in a bowl.

To serve, place the rusks in a shallow bowl and spoon the grated tomato on top. Arrange the goat’s cheese on top of the tomato and scatter over the olives. Pour a generous amount of olive oil over the top and sprinkle with some sea salt and oregano.

(Top image credit: Elena Heatherwick)