Step into any café on the Spanish part of the Iberian Peninsula and you are bound to find pan con tomate as one of the breakfast choices. It’s a four-ingredient dish involving toasted bread, olive oil, fresh tomato pulp, and salt. In Spain, pan con tomate is as ubiquitous as it is popular and affordable.
And it isn’t only a breakfast favorite. Many Spaniards also prefer it for their merienda, the afternoon snack, and in Catalonia it’s often served at dinner time or as a tapa to accompany a glass of wine. “Ever since I was a child, we’ve used pa amb tomaquet [pan con tomate in Catalan] for both breakfasts and dinners at home,” says Ignasi Camps, the founder and the owner of Ca L’Ignasi Restaurant and a founding member of the Foundation of the Catalan Cuisine. “In my restaurant, toasted bread rubbed with tomato is a very old tradition.”
Here’s how you can try this savory Spanish toast for your next breakfast.
How to Make Pan Con Tomate
The best way to make pan con tomate is to rub the tomato directly on the bread. To be able to do so, though, one should really have the special Catalan tomato—tomate de colgar, a tomato that’s spent some time hanging in a sack in a barn after being harvested. Its pulp spreads easily and soaks the bread just enough without making it soggy.
But since you’re unlikely to have tomate de colgar lying around, here’s another option: a fairly ripe tomato. You may not be able to rub it on the bread without it falling apart, but you can do one of two things: you can either blend it with a hand-held blender (with skin or without) or, using a simple grater, you can grate the pulp and throw away the skin. Add some oil and a little salt, spread it on a piece of toast, and you have yourself an excellent pan con tomate.
The bread is of utmost importance—a country loaf is your best bet—and the olive oil should be the extra-virgin variety. In this video, Ignasi Camps shows in great detail how to make this classic Catalan dish.
Round out your Spanish-inspired menu with our collection of Spanish recipes.