There is probably nothing more typically or uniquely Catalan or Majorcan than tomato-rubbed bread, or bread rubbed with tomato, drizzled with olive oil, and sprinkled with sea salt. Pa amb tomàquet—in Spanish, it is called pan con tomate—is commonly eaten with slices of cured cold cuts, cheeses, roasted vegetables, or anchovy fillets. Perhaps invented as a way to rescue old, dry bread and to take advantage of the tomatoes that grow so abundantly in the summer garden, it can be part of a tapas spread, the basis of a meal, or an accompaniment to grilled meats, and is not infrequently prepared for breakfast. With some slices of aged cheese or chorizo and a café con leche, it makes an ideal country breakfast.
The bread generally consists of wide slices of pa de pagès (crusty Catalan round-loaf country bread), but sliced baguette will work, too. Toasting the bread makes it easier to rub with the garlic and tomato; if using baguette, skip the toasting. You can taste the olive oil here, so be sure to use the best in the pantry.–Jeff Koehler
LC Timing Is Everything
This little tomato-rubbed bread number will be exponentially better come late summer, natch. Until then, use the loveliest tomatoes you can find…along with a touch of your imagination.
Tomato-Rubbed Bread Recipe
- Quick Glance
- 10 M
- 15 M
- Serves 6
- 8 to 12 thick slices country-style bread or baguette (about 1/2 to 1 loaf)
- 1 garlic clove, peeled (optional)
- 3 to 4 very ripe medium tomatoes, halved crosswise
- Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
- Flaky sea salt, for sprinkling
- 1. If the bread you’re using is a baguette or is day-old bread, proceed to step 2. If it’s not a baguette or day-old bread, lightly toast the slices at a low-temperature in the oven or, if you’re lucky enough to have a gas grill or a gas stove, toast the slices over a gas flame.
- 2. If using the garlic, hold it over the bread as you would hold an eraser over a sheet of paper and repeatedly rub it against the bread. Do the same with the tomato halves, rubbing them firmly against the bread while squeezing them slightly to help release some of the tomato juices, until the slices of bread are reddish and moist. (Some Italians choose to rub the tomato and garlic on both sides of each slice of bread, in which case the slices will need to be eaten with a fork and knife.)
- 3. If the slices of bread are particularly large, cut them in half. Place a single layer of the tomato-rubbed bread on a platter. Generously moisten the bread with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Repeat, stacking layers of tomato-rubbed bread or arranging them on a platter or a cutting boar, drizzling ever so lightly with oil and sprinkling with salt until you’re out of slices. Serve immediately.