Pan con Tomate Recipe

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Bread. Tomatoes. Olive oil. When you have just a few great ingredients, magic happens. Sit down at any given tapas bar during tomato season, and a plate of toasted rustic bread imbued with garlic and topped with a slick of olive oil and beautiful red tomato pulp will appear. 

In Spain, many people enjoy these hunks of tomato-covered bread for breakfast. Served as an appetizer, they’re sometimes topped with ham, anchovies, or a slice of cheese. Of course, you can add your own toppings beyond the basics, such as fresh herbs or hard-boiled egg slices. 

Simply Recipes / Sally Vargas


What Is Pan con Tomate?

It all started in Catalan in northeastern Spain. The locals use hanging tomatoes from the markets there to make pan con tomate. Even the inhabitants of Madrid are not privileged to experience that particular local version (you can’t buy the special tomatoes outside of Catalan). Luckily, the city invented their own version, which you see here. 

To make pan con tomate Madrid-style, scrape a tomato over the large holes of a grater, letting the pulp and juice accumulate in a bowl. Spoon the tomato goodness over toasted bread rubbed with a garlic clove and drizzle with olive oil. 

The Best Bread for Pan con Tomate

A rustic loaf of bread with lots of flavor is the best bread to use. When you have only a few ingredients, you want to use the best quality you can find. I like to use thick slices of ciabatta loaf, which are substantial and satisfying. 

Cut the loaf in half for ease of slicing (with the flat side down on the cutting board). You want slices that are thick enough to support the juicy tomatoes and keep the bread from becoming soggy. Aim for a size that is manageable to hold with your hands, about 3 to 4 inches long. Remember, these are rustic bites, so don’t stress over perfection.

Toast the bread under the broiler or grill them. Your goal is to dry the bread a little on the outside, leaving it chewy on the inside with a nice golden surface. Charred edges are tasty, too! 

Simply Recipes / Sally Vargas


The Best Tomatoes for Pan con Tomate

Local ripe and juicy summer tomatoes (as opposed to hothouse tomatoes) are going to give you the best tomato flavor and texture. Try visiting your local farmers market or, if you have a garden, use homegrown tomatoes. They should feel heavy for their size but firm.

How to Make It Ahead

These little toasts are great to have with drinks before the main course is ready. Making the components ahead and assembling just before serving make them especially convenient. 

Grate the tomatoes and store the pulp at room temperature for a few hours before serving, or refrigerate for up to a day, allowing it to come to room temperature for the best flavor. 

Toast the bread a few hours ahead as well, re-crisping in a 350ºF oven for about 10 minutes to restore its crunch. Spread with the pulp and drizzle with more oil just before serving.

Simply Recipes / Sally Vargas


Celebrate Summertime Tomatoes

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