Photo By @LisaThompson
One of my favorite things about cooking is how a single bite can instantly transport us back to a magical place and time in our memory. The first time I traveled to Spain, one of the first (of many) memorable bites I experienced on a pintxo crawl was Pan con Tomate, a traditional Catalan tapa. I quickly discovered that this delicious toasted bread is a cultural staple, with its origin going back to the 16th century!
Made with just a few fresh ingredients, this summer appetizer is full of flavor and easy to prepare, making it very simple to create right at home. Sweeter varieties of tomato like heirloom or beefsteak tomatoes are ideal for this. You can avoid food waste here by incorporating the remaining tomato skins into sauces, soups, homemade pizzas, or bocadillos (sandwiches).
If you’re looking to have a fun night cooking at home, enjoy Pan con Tomate alongside other traditional pintxos and tapas from different regions of Spain. Some of my favorites include tinned tuna or sardines on sliced bread spiked with a wooden skewer, Pincho de Champiñones (skewered mushrooms atop a small piece of bread), a tapas board with thinly sliced Jamón Ibérico and wedges of Manchego cheese, Pinchos de Tortilla (Spanish Omelette), Pimientos de Padrón (blistered Padrón or shishito peppers), and Patatas Bravas (Spicy Potatoes). Don’t forget to pick up a few bottles of red wine or Cava (Spanish sparkling wine), as well!
I instantly fell in love with Spain, and this recipe brings me back to the plazas full of people enjoying the gift of good company, live music, and fresh ingredients. I was determined to learn how Pan con Tomate was prepared so I could bring it home with me as a culinary keepsake. I was introduced to this technique while visiting a family at their home in Catalonia. Their passion and respect for culture, food, and tradition was beautiful and inspiring, and I’m so grateful they took the time to share the gift of Pan con Tomate with me.
- 1 loaf ciabatta or country bread, halved lengthwise
- 1 large garlic clove, peeled and halved
- 1/ 2 pound large ripe tomatoes, halved (sweeter varieties like heirloom or beefsteak are ideal)
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- Flaky salt, for topping
Toast bread: To toast in the oven, bake at 325 degrees F for 7-10 minutes until golden brown. To toast on the grill, place bread cut side-down over medium heat for 10 minutes, until lightly charred.
Rub garlic over the cut side of the bread.
Hold one tomato half firmly in the palm of your hand, cut side-down, and rub into the bread. Be sure to squeeze out the flesh and the seeds. Discard the skin (or see above for tips on how to use it!) and repeat with remaining tomato halves until all the bread is completely coated with tomato.
Drizzle bread with olive oil and sprinkle with flaky salt to taste.
Cut into 3 inch-wide slices and serve immediately while the bread is still crispy and warm.