Pan con tomate is Spain’s garlicky, crispy and juicy answer to garlic bread. It consists of crusty bread that has been topped with garlic and fresh tomato and drizzled with extra virgin olive oil. Although we are inspired by our visit to Barcelona where pan con tomate is particularly popular, we devoured this specialty throughout the country, where it was served to us for breakfast, as an accompaniment to a meal, and even as a base for a sandwich. To stave off withdrawal, we have been making it at home ever since.
Fortunately, pan con tomate is fast and easy to make; much easier than American garlic bread, which typically requires baking or broiling the bread with garlic butter. Pan con tomate (literally, “bread with tomato”) uses raw garlic and fresh tomato, deployed in delicate enough quantities not to overwhelm the palate, so that no cooking is required beyond toasting the bread. It is particularly good now in late summer, when the local tomatoes here are glorious. Once the secret gets out here at in the U.S., we’ll be making it all the time.
There are at least two methods for making pan con tomate, both of which are authentic. The first method, which is the fastest for preparing small quantities, is to toast the bread and rub it with garlic and tomato. The second method, which is better for a crowd, is to puree the tomato and garlic and have your guests spread thin layers of it over their own toasted bread. Both ways are amazing.
- A fresh baguette or other crusty bread
- 1 large tomato
- 1 garlic clove
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Slice a piece of bread lengthwise and toast it. Cut the garlic clove in half and cut off a large piece of tomato.
- When the bread is toasted, rub the bread with the cut side of a garlic clove half until it is garlicky and then rub the bread with a piece of tomato until the bread is nicely coated. Top with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt.
- Coarsely chop the tomato and garlic clove and put them in a food processor with a splash of olive oil. Process until mostly smooth.
- When the bread is toasted, spread a thin layer of tomato over the bread. Top with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt.
If you would like to have delicious pan con tomate in a restaurant here in New York, Tertulia in the West Village does it right.
More from NYFJ’s series on Spain and Spanish food: The Foods of Barcelona.
Make Spanish Food: