I created this dish on Food Network's The Julia Child Challenge as a component of the meal that changed my life.
It was vvvvv cool and a bit surreal to dine family style with Chef Michael Voltaggio who has worked so closely with Chef Jose Andres, and talk about the magic that is pa amb tomàquet, or pan con tomate.
One of my favorite things about cooking is how a single bite can instantly transport us back to a magical place and time (see one of my videos from Barcelona at the bottom of this entry!). The first time I traveled to Spain, one of the first (of many, many) memorable bites I experienced on a pintxo crawl was Pan con Tomate, a traditional Catalan tapa. I quickly discovered that this is a cultural staple, with its origin going back to the 16th century.
I prepared this recipe on Food Network’s The Julia Child Challenge as a component of a meal that changed my life, because I instantly fell in love with Spain. This recipe brings me back to the plazas full of people enjoying the gift of good company, live music, and fresh ingredients. I was determined to learn how Pan con Tomate was prepared so I could bring it home with me as a culinary keepsake, and as something that would invite me to create my own family food memories.
I was officially introduced to this technique while visiting an absolutely lovely family at their home in Catalonia. Their passion and respect for culture, food, and tradition was beautiful and inspiring, and I’m so grateful they were more than willing to share this culinary tradition with me.
Made with just a few fresh ingredients, Pan Con Tomate is full of flavor and easy to prepare, which made it very simple to recreate upon our return home from Spain. Sweeter varieties of tomato are ideal for this, and you can avoid food waste here by incorporating the remaining tomato skins into sauces, soups, homemade pizzas, or bocadillos (sandwiches).
If you’re looking to have a fun night cooking at home, enjoy Pan con Tomate alongside my Sautéed Prawns, and don’t forget to pick up a few bottles of red wine or Cava, too.
If you make your own batch of this Pan con Tomate, be sure to tag @threebirdsonestove so I can see how you’re enjoying this delicious tapa! Bon appétit, loves.
Watch The Julia Child Challenge, Mondays at 9PM EST, on Food Network and Discovery Plus!
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Yield: 8 slices
1 loaf ciabatta, country bread, or baguette, halved lengthwise
1 large garlic clove, peeled and halved
½ pound large ripe tomatoes, halved (sweeter varieties like heirloom or beefsteak are ideal)
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Flaky salt for topping
Toast bread: To toast in the oven, bake at 325 degrees F for 7-10 minutes until golden brown. To toast on the grill, place bread cut side-down over medium heat for 10 minutes, until lightly charred.
Rub garlic over the cut side of the bread.
Hold one tomato half firmly in the palm of your hand, cut side-down, and rub into the bread. Be sure to squeeze out the flesh and the seeds. Discard the skin (or see above for tips on how to use it!) and repeat with remaining tomato halves until all the bread is completely coated with tomato.
Drizzle bread with olive oil and sprinkle with flaky salt to taste.
Cut into 3 inch-wide slices and serve immediately while the bread is still crispy and warm.