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Best Pan Con Tomate

Best Pan Con Tomate

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Arthur Bovino

How to Make Pan Con Tomate

Years ago, while wandering through Europe by myself for a third of a year, I met a stranger on a train in between countries I don't remember. He stopped me in the middle of the list of cities I rattled off and told me that I had to visit Granada, specifically Alhambra. "You have to reserve a ticket well in advance," he advised. As someone naturally predisposed to take travel advice from strangers in dark train cars, I did. And some combination of months and weeks later I ended up at the Oasis Hostel in Granada from which, one morning I set out and had one of the most memorable breakfasts I'll ever remember: pan con tomate. Years later, having put back on the weight I kept off walking 10 miles a day through European back alleys and along quiet roads, this simple recipe for pan con tomate at home recreates the flavors and memories of a long-ago trip.

Click here to see Why You Should Cook with Olive Oil.


  • 1 ripe tomato
  • 1 loaf bread or baguette
  • 1 clove garlic, halved
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, preferably Picual, Hojiblanca, Arbequina, or blend from Spain
  • Salt, to taste

How to Make Pan Con Tomate, the Easiest Spanish Tapa Around

Edit: It has been quite rightfully brought to my attention that I should mention that pan con tomate in its original for is actually a Catalonian dish, not Spanish, and that in fact, pa amb tomàquet is a more geo-culinarily appropriate name for the dish. Here's to the Catalan and their incredible contributions to the food world!

Pan con tomate is just about as humble as tapas can get. It's got only five ingredients—bread, tomato, olive oil, garlic, and salt—and requires barely any actual cooking, yet it's precisely this simplicity and restraint that make it such a perfect end-of-summer dish. This is the kind of thing I make as an appetizer at a party or combine with a hearty salad for a light dinner. It takes just minutes, and, more than anything, it highlights the quality of your ingredients. This happens to be a good year for tomatoes, which makes it a good year for pan con tomate.

As with a good Caprese salad, the only real way to totally mess up pan con tomate is either to start with subpar ingredients (you want the best tomatoes, olive oil, and bread) or to overthink it. This is one of the few cases in which the lazier you are, the better.

Unlike its Italian counterpart, tomato bruschetta—another dish made with the same basic ingredients—Spanish pan con tomate uses tomato pulp, not diced or sliced tomatoes. How you get that pulp can vary.

Some folks like to keep it super simple by splitting a tomato in half and rubbing it over the rough surface of a slice of toast, tinting it red and giving it a very light, refreshing tomato flavor. Tomato as condiment. This is a fine method if you've got lots of bread and not many tomatoes, but that's not typically my situation (good tomatoes tend to attack in packs).

I use the box grater method, a technique I learned while working at Toro, one of Ken Oringer's two Spanish restaurants by the same name in Boston and New York: Cut a tomato in half and rub the cut surface over a box grater, keeping the palm of your hand completely flat. This conveniently extracts and chops the tomato pulp, completely separating it from the skin, which you can then discard. (It's also a great method if you want to make a super-quick fresh tomato sauce or puree to use on pizzas or pasta.)

The bread is typically thin slices of long, rustic loaves, which work just fine if you're serving pan con tomate as you often do in Spain: as a free bar snack. But for a more substantial part of a meal, I like to use more substantial bread, something I can really pile the tomatoes onto.

A loaf of open-holed ciabatta, split in half lengthwise and then split crosswise into individual pieces, provides enough substance and structure for big spoonfuls of tomato pulp. I drizzle extra-virgin olive oil over the bread and place it under the broiler until it's browned, crisp, and just starting to char right around the edges. You need that level of crispness to stand up to the juicy tomato.

The final question is how to incorporate the olive oil and garlic. Some recipes, like this one from Tertulia's Seamus Mullen, call for adding the garlic directly into the tomato pulp, along with some sherry vinegar.

I prefer to keep my flavors a little more distinct, letting those tomatoes handle themselves. The garlic I apply directly to the bread, splitting a clove in half and rubbing it on the rough surface. It acts kind of like sandpaper—you'll see your garlic clove getting smaller and smaller as it leaves an invisibly thin layer of flavor behind.

The tomatoes I simply season with salt and spoon on top of the bread. Finally, I drizzle it with more olive oil (a lot more olive oil), sprinkle it with coarse salt, and serve it. That's it. No embellishments required. You don't even need chopped herbs here, though a sprinkle of parsley or chives would not detract from the overall experience, I suppose. I've seen a few variations here and there with other toppings, but to my mind, the only one that has ever really come close to matching the synergy of flavors of the original is adding a single brined anchovy, along with a tiny dollop of allioli, the Spanish version of a garlicky mayonnaise.

It's only as I write this that I realize why I like that flavor combination so much: Between the toasted bread, the fresh tomato, the mayo, and the salty/savory anchovy, it's got almost all the same notes as the BLT, the best simple sandwich ever conceived.

Should I put shredded iceberg lettuce on my pan con tomate? Should I? I probably shouldn't. but perhaps just a little. In the name of science.


Step 1

Toss tomatillos, kosher salt, and sugar in a small bowl. Gently massage until they feel soft and juicy. Cover and let sit at room temperature, tossing occasionally, until tomatillos have released some of their liquid, at least 4 hours and up to 12 hours.

Step 2

Preheat oven to 300°. Holding a bread knife parallel to a cutting board, slice ciabatta in half. Slice each piece in half lengthwise, then cut each strip on a diagonal into about 4" pieces. Drizzle 3 Tbsp. oil over bread and rub each piece to evenly distribute oil. Place bread on a baking sheet and bake until browned all over and dried out and crisp, 60–75 minutes. Let cool.

Step 3

Meanwhile, transfer tomatillos to a food processor leave juices in bowl. Pulse until finely chopped but not smooth (mixture should look pulpy with bits of skin). Transfer to a medium bowl add garlic.

Step 4

Spoon tomatillo mixture over toast, then drizzle some of the reserved juices over. Top with green tomatoes, if using drizzle with oil and sprinkle with sea salt.

Step 5

Do Ahead: Tomatillo mixture can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.

How to make pan con tomate

First, get all the ingredients – tomatoes, bread, salt, olive oil and garlic.

Choosing tomatoes – Pan con Tomate recipe contains only a few simple ingredients. For this reason, it is important to use the best quality ones, if possible.

Choose ripe tomatoes, possibly large in size (not the cherry variety). The riper the tomatoes, the tastier the toast.

Grating vs rubbing tomatoes

Pan con tomate can be made two ways. Either you rub the flesh of the tomato onto a slice of toasted bread or you grate the flesh first and scoop some of it onto the toast.

If using extra ripe (soft and juicy) tomatoes, then I’d choose the rubbing method. This way the toast soaks some of the juices that add even more tomato-ey flavor to the toast.

If you find out that the tomatoes you bought are not as ripe as you thought, you can still use them but rubbing would not really work here so you will have to grate them first. I tend to strain some of the juices, so the mixture is thicker. This is completely optional though.

Choosing and toasting bread

You can choose any bread you like. Artisan bread or a long baguette-like bread stick are my favorites.

Toasting bread for pan con tomato can be done in the oven, in a skillet or in a toaster. I like using a toaster as it is quicker. The only thing to remember when using the toaster is that the bread slices should be thin to fit inside the toaster.

Olive oil – I highly recommend using extra virgin olive oil to make pan con tomate. You only need a little drizzle for each toast, but a good quality oil makes a difference.

Salt – Feel free to use any kind of salt you like but make sure to use it as pan con tomate may taste bland without it. I usually prefer less salt rather than more but when it comes to this bread, I always add a generous pinch.

Garlic – Like I’ve already mentioned, it is not mandatory to use it, but it sure adds an extra flavor to otherwise simple pan con tomate!

Other Spanish dishes that you have to taste when in Spain (or you can make them at home as well) are:

And let’s not forget about typical Spanish sausage – chorizo that you can turn into tasty Chorizo Bites and serve them as appetizers.

Pan con Tomate with Anchovies & Duck Fat

Recipe adapted from chef Angie Mar, Beatrice Inn, New York, NY

Yield: 2 servings

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 20 minutes


1½ pounds heirloom tomatoes

1 large bunch basil, picked and cut into chiffonade

1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste

20 good cracks black pepper

1½ tablespoons lemon juice

Medium baguette, cut in half lengthwise and split into 4 quarters

20 roast or confit garlic cloves

* If you can't find smoked honey, you can make it yourself with a smoking gun or substitute regular honey.


1. Cut the tomatoes into wedges and slices of various sizes. This is a fork-and-knife dish, not bruschetta, so keep the pieces substantial. In a mixing bowl, combine the tomatoes, basil, salt, pepper, lemon juice, olive oil and anchovies, and stir to combine. Check for seasoning and set aside.

2. In a large sauté pan over medium heat, melt the butter and duck fat. Place the baguette slices, cut-sides down, in the fat and fry until golden brown on both sides, flipping occasionally, for 10 to 12 minutes.

3. While the bread is frying, mash the garlic cloves in a bowl to form a thick paste.

4. Remove the bread from the fat and smear the garlic mash across it in a thick layer while the bread is still warm. Use all of the garlic. Drizzle the baguette with smoked honey and top with the tomato mixture. Serve immediately.

Pan Con Tomate with Prosciutto di Parma

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My mother recently described a sandwich an old man prepared for her at a bed and breakfast in Barcelona: toasted bread, rubbed with garlic, drizzled with olive oil, sprinkled with salt, moistened with a squeezed tomato and topped with jamón Iberico. In the mornings, the man tops this concoction with an egg fried in olive oil. Holy cow.

These pigs, the man told my mother, feast on acorns, which impart a nutty flavor into the meat while also making the fat composition of the meat high in monounsaturated fat, the good kind that, like olive oil, helps lower bad cholesterol. I believe it. When Ben and I visited Polyface Farm, Joel Salatin told us roughly the same thing. He described his pork as “olive oil pork” because his pigs’ diet consisted of acorns and other nuts from his forest.

I wasn’t able to find jamón Iberico at any shop near me, and depending where you live, you might have difficulty, too. Jamón Iberico made its first appearance in this country in December 2007, when the U.S. finally approved a producer in Spain to export the delicacy. gives a more extensive history about jamón Iberico and jamón Iberico de Bellota, which is the acorn-fed variety. According to La Tienda, the black-hoofed Iberian hog is a prized animal whose lineage stretches back to Christopher Columbus who is said to have had a few of these hogs aboard the Santa María when he set out to discover the New World.

Oh how I long to get my hands on some of this ham. Prosciutto di Parma is a fine substitute but jamón Iberico sounds so exotic and divine. To my sandwich, I added a few slices of Mahón, a cow’s milk cheese produced in Menorca, an island off the eastern coast of Spain. Manchego would be nice in this sandwich as well.

Also, I just saw in my Gourmet magazine email newsletter, that Ruth Reichl’s “secret weapon” for a no-cook summer meal is the American version of serrano ham produced by the Edwards family of Virginia. Made from humanely raised Six-Spotted Berkshire pigs smoked slowly over hickory, this ham, according to Ruth, pairs nicely with melon or simply with some really good bread. (While this is by no means local to me, this might be a nice alternative for those east coasters looking to eat more locally.)

Pigs at Polyface Farm:

Spanish Tapas Recipes

Todd Coleman

From garlicky razor clams to patatas bravas, Spain’s famous little plates pack lots of flavor. Serve a few tapas as pre-dinner snacks, or offer a slew of them as a whole meal. With crusty bread, a good olive oil, and a selection of Spanish cured meats, they make for a perfectly elegant, relaxed evening.

Sometimes the best dish is the simplest. Pan con tomate fits that bill by taking just a few high quality ingredients and treating them well. To make this snack, which is equally comfortable in a tapas spread or at the breakfast table, first toast a baguette with extra virgin olive oil and rub it with garlic. From there, all you need to do is top it with grated tomato and sea salt.

Seafood is very popular in Spain. Small and satisfying, clams make for great tapas. Try cooking littleneck clams in a sherry and white wine sauce spiked with garlic and chilies. You’ll want good crusty bread (or maybe just a spoon) to get every last drop of the sauce. Without the sherry, a similar sauce is wonderful with razor clams. Pair them with cava, a sparkling wine from Spain.

Fried potatoes are the ultimate drinking food. Crispy, salty, and hearty, they’re exactly what we want after a few drinks. Patatas bravas is a classic tapas recipe at bars, featuring small waxy potatoes that are quartered, fried until crispy, and smothered in mayonnaise and a thick spicy tomato sauce.

Give your next cocktail party a taste of Spain with these tapas recipes.

Patatas Bravas

In Spain, the stopgap to late-night dinners is bar snacks like patatas bravas, crisp potatoes blanketed in mayonnaise and a thick spicy tomato sauce. Get the recipe for Patatas Bravas »

Spanish-Style Toast with Tomato (Pan Con Tomate)

All you need for this simple Spanish snack is good-quality olive oil, bread, garlic, a ripe tomato, and a sprinkle of sea salt.

Shrimp Fritters (Tortillitas de Camarones)

These crisp-edged fritters get their earthy flavor from chickpea flour. Get the recipe for Shrimp Fritters (Tortillitas de Camarones) »

Clams in Sherry Sauce

This classic Andalusian seafood dish is traditionally served with lots of crusty bread, to soak up the piquant broth.

Razor Clams with Chiles and Garlic (Navajas al Ajillo)

Razor clams cook quick but look especially impressive, especially in this popular Spanish-style tapas preparation.

Pan-Fried Salt Cod Chips (Fritas de Bacalhau)

A thin batter of salt cod, garlic, and onions is shallow-fried to make fine, crisp chips.

Pan con Tomate Garlic Bread

Earlier this year I spent some time in Barcelona, Spain and fell in love with their Pan con Tomate. It is a simple toasted bread with fresh tomato, oil, a little garlic, and salt. I was inspired to take those same flavors and turn them into a Pan con Tomate Garlic Bread!

Pan con Tomate does not look like much at first, as it appears like toasted bread with a faint pink-red hue from tomato juice. But OH MY is it wonderful! Across Spain, this was one of my favorite things to eat and something I was excited to bring home to try. I decided to take those same flavors and make an amped-up garlic bread!

I love making garlic bread, it is so fast and simple! The perfect addition to an Italian meal. Just be careful when you are broiling it, the bread can burn fast! I may have inherited the bread-burning gene from my mom, because it happens more than it should!

Pan con Tomate is simple ingredients and simple flavors. And while I love and appreciate that type of food, I also love tons of flavor! This Pan con Tomate Garlic Bread is full of bold ingredients. Similar to our classic Sourdough Garlic Bread, the addition of tomato is the perfect addition for a fun and different appetizer or side.

I use my Sun-Dried Tomato Roasted Garlic Compound Butter for this Pan con Tomate Garlic Bread as it has the perfect flavors. If you do not have the compound butter made already or are looking for a shortcut, you can simply apply each of the compound butter ingredients individually. But this butter is so amazing I love to make a double batch so I always have some on hand.

One of my favorite things about traveling is being inspired by their food and bringing those ideas home with me. Sometimes I keep them classic, sometimes they get turned into something new like this Pan con Tomate Garlic Bread! What is your favorite meal you have had when traveling?

  • 4 slices crusty sourdough bread (about 1 inch thick)
  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and halved
  • 4 medium tomatoes, halved
  • 4 slices serrano ham or prosciutto
  • Ground pepper for serving

Preheat a gas grill to medium, build a fire in a charcoal grill or build a campfire and let it burn down to medium heat (about 400 degrees F).

Brush or drizzle both sides of bread with 2 tablespoons oil. Grill the bread, flipping occasionally, until both sides are well toasted, 2 to 6 minutes total.

Rub one side of each piece of toast with garlic, then rub each piece with two tomato halves, squeezing so all the juice and pulp is released into the toast. (You should be left with just the skin.) Drape the toasts with serrano ham (or prosciutto), drizzle with the remaining 2 tablespoons oil and sprinkle with pepper, if desired.

Oh and one more thing!

Today’s recipe is about tomatoes for a reason. Over the last 12 months, there have been a number of food bloggers who’ve collaborated on their blogs and Instagram to celebrate one ingredient that’s in season that month. I love this concept! Mainly because it gives us so many recipe ideas for an ingredient that is typically bursting out of our refrigerator. I mean, don’t you feel like you have so many tomatoes around your house? This collaboration has grown to almost 80 bloggers. So many of them are crazy talented and have amazing recipes to share! To give you all plenty of tomato inspiration, while they’re still in season, I’m going to link as many as I can underneath the step-by-step photos.

Watch the video: Pinch of Frank. Pan con Tomate