Pan con tomate (or pa amb tomàquet in Catalan) is a popular Spanish tomato bread, perfect for tapas and snacking anytime from breakfast through dinner. It's extremely easy to make and only requires five ingredients.
Perhaps the easiest (and one of the most delicious) Spanish tapas dishes is pan con tomate (Spanish) or pa amb tomàquet (Catalan) which literally translates to bread with tomato. It is a staple throughout Spain, however is considered to be of Catalan origins and would be considered a signature dish of that region.
In its simplest form, pa amb tomàquet is toasted bread rubbed with garlic, topped with tomato, and finished with salt and olive oil.
When I visited Barcelona, over the span of 1 week I sampled pan con tomate on 6 different occasions, and each preparation was slightly different. The biggest variation was typically the type of bread used, but the application and quantity of tomato also varied a bit.
- The Central Spanish version: The tomato is grated and then the pulp is spooned over the bread. This yields a more tomato heavy pan con tomate.
- The Catalan version: The halved tomato is rubbed directly onto the bread. This method is lighter on the tomato allowing the garlic to really shine through.
The method of tomato application is somewhat regional although I experienced a bit of both in Barcelona. I find that this is a matter of personal taste and for me personally, rubbing a halved tomato over each bread slice is not only faster and easier, but it results in the perfect pa amb tomàquet! It's also the Catalan way, which is the original way. I'm good with that.
- Bread: I have eaten pan con tomate in Catalonia on several different types of bread ranging from coca (a type of Catalan flatbread), Italian ciabatta-like bread, large slices of artisan style bread, and even small slices of baguette. Here is where you can be a bit flexible, but plan to use a crusty bread with a firm but open crumb texture (lots of nooks and crannies) and not your standard sandwich bread. I like ciabatta because it's crunchy and chewy and offers a nice complex texture to this recipe.
- Garlic: Use fresh, whole cloves of peeled garlic for rubbing on the toasted bread. Since the garlic is raw the flavor will be strong. If it's past its prime, the flavor will be really sharp. Some say the garlic is optional, but in a million years I would never omit it.
- Tomato: Use fresh, ripe, flavorful, juicy tomatoes (ideally seasonal summer tomatoes and not flavorless winter tomatoes). There are many varieties that would work well for this Spanish tomato bread, such as beefsteak and heirlooms. Taste it. If it's sweet, flavorful, and juicy, give it a try.
- Salt: As there are only 5 ingredients, you'll want each of them to be the best quality you can find. I use French flaked sea salt called fleur de sel, but any good quality flaked salt would work well.
- Olive Oil: Here's where you want to use the good stuff. Use good quality extra-virgin olive oil, and if you happen to have some from Spain all the better!
How to make it
Toast the bread slices either in a toaster or on a baking sheet in a 375°F oven until crispy and golden. Note that the total time will depend on the type and thickness of your bread. It takes me about 10 minutes for my ciabatta slices.
Remove the toasted bread from the oven and while the bread is still hot, rub the peeled garlic cloves all over the top of each slice.
Next, rub a halved tomato with the cut side down on each piece of toasted bread. It's ok if the juices dribble down the sides a bit.
Finally, sprinkle the top of each slice of garlic and tomato rubbed bread with flaked sea salt and drizzle with a little extra-virgin olive oil to finish.
Although the recipe I am sharing is for an entire loaf of ciabatta, you can easily use the same method with another type of bread. You can even reduce the recipe and toast a couple slices for yourself. Toast your bread in a toaster for a small batch, or on a sheet pan in your oven or toaster oven if you're feeding a crowd.
I recommend rubbing the garlic on the bread while the bread is still somewhat hot. The garlic will practically melt into the bread and the results are pure magic!
Serve your pan con tomate plain as is, or top it with Spanish ham such as jamón ibérico (if you are lucky enough to get your hands on it) or jamón serrano (a bit easier to source outside of Spain). Anchovies, olives, or Manchego cheese are also great complements to Spanish tomato bread. We were also served some as an accompaniment to an order of Spanish potato salad.
One of the restaurants in Barcelona where we had pan con tomate served it in a DIY fashion. We were given a large slice of toasted bread, a whole clove of garlic, a halved tomato, and olive oil and salt on the side. It was fun and delicious! Consider a DIY option for your next tapas meal instead of assembling all the Spanish tomato bread pieces on your own.
Other recipes you may like
- Ensaladilla Rusa (Spanish Potato Salad)
- Escalivada Catalana (Catalan Roasted Vegetables)
- Barceloneta Potato Bombas
- Gambas al Ajillo (Garlic Shrimp)
- Patatas Bravas (Fierce Potatoes)
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Pan con Tomate (Spanish Tomato Bread)
- 1 loaf ciabatta, ends trimmed, cut into 2-inch wide pieces, then halved crosswise (or other crusty bread)
- 3 cloves garlic, peeled
- 1 medium-sized ripe, juicy tomato, halved
- Flaked sea salt
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- Toast the bread slices either in a toaster or on a baking sheet in a 375°F oven until crispy and golden. Note that the total time will depend on the type and thickness of your bread. It takes about 10 minutes for these ciabatta slices.
- Remove the toasted bread from the oven and while the bread is still hot, rub the peeled garlic cloves all over the top of each slice.
- Next, rub a halved tomato with the cut side down on each piece of toasted bread. It's ok if the juices dribble down the sides a bit.
- Finally, sprinkle the top of each slice of garlic and tomato rubbed bread with flaked sea salt and drizzle with a little extra-virgin olive oil to finish.
- You may not use all the garlic. Once you get about halfway through rubbing each clove it may be harder to hold and rub so you can move onto a fresh clove as needed.
- Serve your pan con tomate plain as is, or top it with Spanish ham such as jamón ibérico (if you are lucky enough to get your hands on it) or jamón serrano (a bit easier to source outside of Spain). Anchovies, olives, or Manchego cheese are also great complements to Spanish tomato bread. You may also serve it as an accompaniment to Spanish potato salad.
*All nutritional information is based on third-party calculations and should be considered estimates. Actual nutritional content will vary with brands used, measuring methods, portion sizes and more.*