pan con tomate

plate with long piece of pan con tomate

You ready for the easiest recipe, the appetizer/side dish that will rock the rest or your summer, the thing you want to make next now that tomato season is here? Our Catalonian friends have a treat for us: pa amb tomàquet, or pan con tomate, or just "tomato bread", this is an irresistably delicious five-ingredient self-assembly dish. Have it for breakfast! Have it with cold vermut or rosé on the porch at 5pm! Have it with every meal!

Amazingly for such a simple recipe, many online recipe sources nevertheless screw this up, probably because they're trying to account for substandard ingredients. Don't do that! This is a dish for tomato season, when the tomatoes are ripe and juicy. Also grab some high-quality Spanish olive oil (it's OK, you'll use a tiny amount, it'll last a long time) and some good bread. The bread needs to be something that has large holes and is firm and chewy, like a baguette, cibatta, sourdough loaf, or pain de campagne. This is also a good recipe to bring out your fancy sea salt for, you'll actually taste it.

One of the things that makes pan con tomate so easy is that each diner assembles it for themselves. So this is not so much a recipe as a set of assembly instructions.

First, split or slice your bread, and grill or toast it lightly. You want it to be firm without browning.

plate with tomatoes, bread, an half garlic cloves

Then, put out on the table:

  • several pieces of the toasted bread
  • several garden-fresh ripe tomatoes, cut in half
  • a few large garlic cloves, peeled and cut in half
  • one bottle of high quality Spanish olive oil
  • some salt

Each diner then makes their own pan con tomate, using these steps:

  1. grab a piece of bread
  2. rub the cut top of the bread with the cut side of a garlic clove
  3. rub the bread with half of a tomato (or a whole one if they're small) until all the tomato pulp is rubbed into the bread (this is why you need those large holes)
  4. drizzle it with olive oil, maybe a teaspoon
  5. sprinkle on some salt
  6. eat!

That's all there is to it. If it sounds underwhelming, try it first -- if you like tomatoes at all, you'll be delighted. And if your sweetie is like mine, you'll be eating pan con tomate until summer ends.