This gorgeous little recipe for tomato-rubbed bread makes a lovely addition to a tapas spread, a side dish, or even a quick breakfast. Sturdy bread, like a baguette, gets rubbed with tomato, drizzles with olive oil, and sprinkled with flaky salt. Simple.
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.
☞ Table of Contents
Tomato-Rubbed Bread ~ Pa Amb Tomàquet
- 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
- 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.
- 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.)
- 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.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
I love this type of recipe–simple in its ingredients and preparation, but full of flavor. This traditional Spanish recipe for tomato-rubbed bread makes a lovely addition to your next tapas presentation, charcuterie board, or even as a small bite with cocktails. It’s simply sliced baguette or toasted country bread rubbed with garlic and fresh tomatoes and drizzled with quality olive oil and a pinch of sea salt. I used half a whole-wheat baguette, cut into 1/2-inch slices, and this was a pre-dinner small bite for 4 people. I imagine the whole baguette would be enough for 6 to 8 people. A lovely, simple recipe sure to please!
I’ve made tomato-rubbed bread (pa amb tomàquet) for many years, and I have one piece of advice: If you’re getting into a car or some kind of close quarters with others right after this, make sure everyone eats the same thing, or you may “offend” them with your garlic breath! This is one of my favorite Catalan breakfast specialties. I used a gluten-free boule and cut each slice in half. Then I lightly toasted it under the broiler and followed the directions. The final taste is strong yet delicate, garlicky, moist from the tomato and olive oil, and close to a very simplified bruschetta. My suggestion, as I was taught back in Spain, is to have all the ingredients ready on the table, then when the bread is warmed up, have each person prepare his or her own slice. One slice is the perfect amount per person, as the slices are pretty large.
I made this pa amb tomàquet with a group of friends, and they all agreed it was a great tapa. It’s an exact replica of a tomato-rubbed bread recipe I made in a cooking class in Barcelona. It took about 8 minutes for the bread to toast in the oven and about another 10 minutes to finish the dish. Don’t skip the garlic—it adds a lot to the flavor and is a perfect complement to the tomatoes. We only needed 2 tomatoes for 12 slices of bread.
This tomato-rubbed bread is more of a method than a recipe. It’s ready within minutes, and we prepared it 2 days in a row. We used a country loaf and cut thick 1-inch slices. We have delicious tomatoes in our farmers’ markets these days so we used them and our current favorite olive oil. We rubbed the garlic on both sides of the bread, but squeezed the tomato juice onto just one side. The second day we popped the stacks of bread into a hot oven to warm them through. This is a satisfying after-school snack and is wonderful with scrambled eggs and sausage.
This pa amb tomàquet is divine. We used telera rolls from our artisan bakery, which was the best thing I could find after work. I sliced them in half and toasted them on the grill, then rubbed them with garlic and tomato. I finished them with a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil and sea salt. My son complained that the bread smelled too garlicky. To be honest, it smelled more strongly than it tasted. Even he liked the flavor, just not the scent. A fun, interesting, easy way to round out a family dinner. Really liked it. Good way to use up my bumper crop of tomatoes this summer!
This is an interesting use for day-old or toasted bread. At first I thought it would be soggy, but I was pleasantly surprised to discover that it was moist but not soggy. I used 3/4-inch-thick slices of bread and lightly toasted it in the oven. The bread had a pleasant taste of garlic and tomato. We served it with some thinly sliced salami, sliced provolone cheese, and an assortment of olives and roasted peppers. This would also be very nice with a hearty vegetable soup. This will be lovely when tomato season is here and the tomatoes have more taste. I think that toasting the bread on the grill outside could make this to a really nice summer meal without heating up the kitchen. We had 4 generous servings for a light dinner with a small side salad.
Although this is something great to do when you have leftover bread, it can even be the reason you buy bread in the first place. We really enjoy crostini, and make them in many different ways and with many different toppings. You can toast the bread as the recipe suggests, or grill it, as I ended up doing, in a cast-iron grill pan. I did use half of a garlic clove to rub the bread after grilling. It flavors the bread nicely, but be aware that it can leave a pronounced garlic flavor. One guest was turned off by the “sharpness” of the garlic. (That was tempered when she spread some hummus on top of it.) The rubbed tomato was a nice touch, but for me, not enough tomato. I cut up what was left of the tomatoes after rubbing them, and set them out for guests, too. They were wonderful sprinkled on top of the bread pieces. By the way, I grilled whole slices of a country-style bread, rubbed them after taking them off of the grill pan, and then sliced them into strips. Not having crust around the whole outside like you would have with a sliced baguette, somehow made them easier to eat. The finished product looked very attractive on the serving dish.
Just 10 minutes, start to finish! Totally worth keeping this in your repertoire for a last-minute appeitzer when guests stop by. I used a small loaf of thick-crusted country bread and used the whole thing. In Hawaii, we’re fortunate to have locally grown tomatoes year round, so finding fresh tomatoes was pretty easy. I used my grill to toast the bread slightly, just enough to make a crust firm enough to rub the garlic on and get some flavor from it. I also used 3 cloves garlic in the process—I’m not sure how you would get any garlic flavor (or be able to hold on to the little piece) if you only used 1 clove for the whole recipe. The tomato part was easy, but be careful, as I squeezed a bit too hard the first time and dumped a lot of seeds on the bread. I have some smoked Maldon Sea Salt flakes so I did half with regular flakes and half with the smoked. I liked the smoked salt much better. We ate these with sopressata and a soft cheese. This went well with a Malbec from Australia.
What a unique way to serve bread. We lightly toasted our bread on our gas grill. Once it was nice and crisp, I rubbed it with the garlic clove. (The aroma as I rubbed the garlic on the toast was pretty fantastic.) I sliced my Roma tomatoes in half and rubbed those on the bread as well, which gave the bread a pink hue that was very appealing. The bread tasted great. I only rubbed 1 side of the toast with the garlic and tomatoes and then added a drizzle olive oil as we like a little crisp on our bread. The recipe yielded 8 to 12 slices of bread which served 4 people as an appetizer. If combined with eggs, chorizo, or a salumi plate, it may serve more. It was alright if we ran out because I could make another batch in about 2 minutes.
This tomato-rubbed bread would be a rustic and fragrant accompaniment to any dish. We used a round loaf of crusty country bread and used the entire loaf to make 12 wide slices. It resulted in 6 delicious servings with poached eggs and ham. The instructions were easy to follow and the timing, including toasting the bread, took approximately 15 to 20 minutes. As stated, use the best olive oil. We’ll enjoy this flavorful bread again with meats and salads and also as an appetizer.
This recipe is interesting. It’s like bruschetta with garlic and tomato minus the basil. It’s actually quite easy to make. I toasted the bread because it’s nice to have the crunch along with the softness added by the tomato. We had this as a side for 2 different meals and it went well with both. I think much depends on the freshness and flavor of the tomato used. I tested this recipe twice and the first time the tomato did not shine and the garlic overtook it. The second test was better due to a slightly better tomato. I think that this recipe will be great when tomatoes are in season. Be careful drizzling the olive oil because you don’t want to use too much, otherwise everything gets too oily. You also want to just make a single pass with the garlic or the flavor might be too strong. I’m not certain why the author wants you to stack the slices. It might be easier just to leave them laid out in a row or rectangle – you can then easily drizzle olive oil and lightly salt.
I loved the idea of moistening and flavoring day-old crusty bread so we can actually eat it instead of turning it into bread crumbs or bird feed. I used half a round of crusty bread. The slices were quite large so I cut them in half for a total of 16 pieces. I crushed the garlic slightly and rubbed it all over the bread, followed by the tomatoes, and then I splashed olive oil over everything and served it as nibbles with wine for company on the weekend.
The simplicity and the wonderful flavors were wonderful. The hands-on time was 10 minutes and the total time was 13 minutes. The possibilities are endless—use black or elephant garlic, change the type of olive oil to Spanish, Sicilian, or Californian, use any of the endless varieties of tomato, or change the type of breads.