I’ve just returned from visiting Portugal and Spain and couldn’t wait to recreate this simple but delicious Pan con Tomate appetizer that I savored in infinite varieties during my trip.
I had such a great time exploring the beautiful cities of Lisbon, Barcelona, Madrid, Valencia and Palma de Mallorca. I definitely ate my way through Spain, one tapas at a time!
On my second day in Barcelona, I met my daughter and her boyfriend at a typical little restaurant where they serve tapas like dim sum. We were seated right by the kitchen door. Each time the server opened the door, she would ring a loud bell to announce the latest tapas being served. She would come to each table with one kind of tapas: for example toasted bread with tomato, sausage and roasted pepper or bread with a slice of potato omelette on top. The versions were endless. Each tapa was held together with either a large or small toothpick. At the end of your meal, you paid at the bar based on your drink and how many toothpicks you had on your plate. It was delicious fun and a little chaotic to watch the servers bounce from table to table and then back to the kitchen for the next batch of mystery tapas.
The most basic tapas of all is a toasted slice of baguette spread with a little garlic, olive oil and fresh tomato. It’s so easy to make, refreshing and totally addictive.
For a “richer” version, pan fry tomato halves in olive oil on each side over medium heat, covered, for about 20 minutes total. Let cool, add salt and serve with a spoon so each person can scoop the sweet, smoky tomato pulp onto the baguette. For cheese and meat lovers, offer sliced manchego cheese or thinly sliced ham or sausage. For Spanish style “pizza” bread: toast the tomato bread under the broiler until the cheese on top is melted and bubbly.
Little bars and restaurants also serve a variety of no cook snacks: olives, popcorn, salted nuts, bread sticks.
These ready made tapas will simplify your happy hour or next get together.
Add your favorite beverage (Sangria, anyone?) and Dig into Pan con tomate!
Serves: 2 - 4 servings
- 1 6-8" baguette, sliced into ovals
- 1 clove garlic
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 small or 1 large ripe tomato
- coarse sea salt
- manchego (or any mild white) cheese
- thinly sliced ham or prosciutto
- pitted olives
- Heat oven to 500 F.
- Place baguette slices on a baking sheet.
- Rub both sides of bread with garlic clove and drizzle one side with olive oil.
- Toast bread 8-10 minutes until lightly browned.
- Cut a shallow X into the top of tomatoes.
- Blanch tomatoes in salted, boiling water for 30 seconds, then rinse in cool water.
- Once cool, peel tomatoes and cut out cores.
- Grate tomatoes into a bowl and add salt to taste.
- Spoon tomato pulp onto toast and serve with optional cheese, ham and olives.