Pan con tomate, also known in Spain as pan tumaca or pa amb tomàquet in Catalan, is toasted bread topped with juicy tomatoes, extra virgin olive oil, garlic, and salt. In Spain, pan con tomate is (almost!) its own food group. Its rich social value lies in its use as a favorite mid-morning snack or second breakfast among Spaniards, bringing them together to keep blood sugar high before eating lunch in the mid-afternoon. A good pan con tomate recipe is a must for any Spanish inspired meal!
While living and working in Madrid, I tended to follow traditional Spanish customs and headed out for breakfast with co-workers during the middle of the mornings.
See also: The Spanish Eating Schedule
While I was new to this custom, I learned quickly by observing the local rituals. A common sight included watching Spaniards devour their pan con tomate accompanied by café con leche or freshly squeezed orange juice in one of Madrid’s many busy cafeterias or bars. It didn’t take long for me to fall in love with the salty blend of pan con tomate’s flavors as my breakfast or morning snack. Fortunately, it is very easy to replicate anywhere you are because the recipe requires only a few ingredients!
My Simple Pan con Tomate Recipe
Tip: The recipe below is not the only way to make pan con tomate (in many families you just rub raw tomato on bread, and drizzle olive oil and salt on top), but it is my preferred method because I enjoy a thick tomato sauce that allows all ingredients to blend to increase flavor. The most important suggestion is to use a hearty type of bread that serves well as a toast, to ensure it captures all flavors without becoming too soggy.
- 4 medium-sized tomatoes on vines
- Extra virgin olive oil
- 1 clove of garlic
- Salt to taste
- ½ teaspoon sugar (if needed to decrease acidity in off-season tomatoes)
- ½ loaf of whole-wheat, rustic, or unleavened bread (works best for avoiding sogginess and maintaining crunchiness)
- A few thin slices of Spanish Serrano or Iberian ham (optional, but highly recommended to enhance flavors!)
- Cut the bread into slices of toast with medium thickness. Arrange on a baking sheet, and toast the bread slices in the oven at 250 degrees Fahrenheit for about five to ten minutes, flipping halfway through.
- Wash and dry the tomatoes. Cut them in half, and grate them using a box grater, discarding the stem and skins.
- Once the tomatoes are grated, reserve in a small bowl and add about 1 tablespoon of olive oil and a pinch of salt. Taste, and add a pinch of sugar if necessary (when using off-season tomatoes they might be too acidic).
- Cut the clove of garlic in half and rub the raw garlic on the toasted bread. Then carefully spoon the tomato mixture onto the slices of garlic toast, and top with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a sprinkle of sea salt.
- Optionally, top with a slice of jamón (Serrano or Iberian) for additional flavor, and a more hearty toast. Enjoy!
Other Simple Spanish Tapas
- Espinacas con garbanzos (spinach & chickpeas)
- Salmorejo (cold tomato soup)
- Croquetas de jamón (ham croquettes)
- Berenjenas con miel (eggplant with honey)
Have you ever tried pan con tomate? What is your favorite mid-morning snack?