“Spanish” recipes abound but what you pick up when you live there is that anything Spanish is actually specific to one region, with a distinct culture and history that isn’t necessarily Spanish at all.
People we consider Spanish often don’t consider themselves Spanish…Gallegos, Asturianos, Euskaldunak, Valencian, Catalan, Madridleños.
One of my favorite “Spanish” recipes is the most simple and I’d like to share it with you here It's the perfect way to use up the last tomatoes of the season. When that peak sun-kissed flavor has passed, this is a way for you to pick them back up again.
If you've ever been to Spain, chances are, you've had pan con tomate -- grated ripe tomatoes on toasted bread with a rub of garlic, a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt. That's all. It's beauty lies in its simplicity.
It’s typically eaten for breakfast, for a snack, with tapas, or any time the craving strikes.
The dish originated in Catalunya, where it's known in Catalan as pa amb tomàquet (bread with tomatoes). When Stuart and I were working at the farm/restaurant/inn, Els Casals, in Catalunya, we ate this dish for breakfast almost every day.
While Stuart was harvesting tomatoes on the farm, he’d often collect the most bruised, overlooked, fallen tomatoes for us to use. The dish truly does make good use of something that might be otherwise be thrown away.
Taking a bite today floods me with happy memories of living Sagàs,(population 25) a rural Catalan village in the foothills of the Pyrenees, working in the kitchen-on-a-farm of chef Oriole Rovira (the story of Oriole and his restaurant will have to be saved for another day).
The key to this dish is to use the best ingredients -- fresh crusty bread, a super ripe tomato, good olive oil -- and to let them shine. Of course, it’s good any way you find the ingredients because traditionally, it was made with day old bread moistened with unwanted tomatoes.
I hope this dish brightens up your morning or afternoon.
Pa Amb Tomàquet
A crusty baguette, sliced in half lengthwise
1 large tomato, halved
1 clove garlic
Good olive oil
Flaky sea salt
Toast the baguette in the oven or on a grill.
Meanwhile, grate the tomato halves on a box grater until you reach the skin (don’t grate the skin; discard it).
Rub the cut side of the toast with the garlic clove (use a gentle hand here or the garlic will overpower the flavor).
Spoon the tomato pulp on the toast. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt.