I feel incredibly lucky to have grown up with a Spanish mother. As a child, I remember my mother parsing the pages of 1080 Recetas de Cocina to find something to make for us. It’s like the Spanish Joy of Cooking, a tome of homestyle Spanish cuisine. I actually found a version translated to English called 1080 Recipes and gave it to my mom for Christmas a couple of years ago. Her eyes welled up with grateful memories as she said thank you. She then proceeded to tell me that the book would be mine when she dies. Did I mention that the Spanish are very comfortable with talking about death? But I digress…
With all the new tapas places popping up lately, and the recognition Spanish chefs like Jose Andres and Ferran Adria have received in recent years, Spanish food is gaining popularity in Southern California. But my experience with Spanish cuisine doesn’t come from a bourgeois place. It comes from home. I grew up with tortilla de patata, arroz con pollo, gazpacho, and croquettas, just to name a few. I also grew up with something that a lot of people in America wouldn’t think of as classic “breakfast” food. It’s freshly grated tomato that is mixed with extra virgin olive oil and salt which is then slathered on top of toasted rustic bread.
Ladies and gentlemen, I introduce you to Pan Con Tomate, which literally translates to bread with tomato. Enjoy it anytime of day. Or enjoy it like I do, in the morning with a cafecito. The key to this recipe is using ripe, fresh, aromatic tomatoes and good olive oil.
Pan Con Tomate
- 2 medium-large ripe, fresh, aromatic tomatoes
- ½ c. good extra virgin olive oil, use more or less to taste
- Salt to taste
- 1 garlic clove (optional, to scrape on the toasted bread)
- 4 slices of sourdough or rustic bread, toasted
Toast the bread. Then, using the large holes of a grater, grate the tomatoes into a shallow bowl until the flesh is gone (the skins will remain). Toss out the skins. Drizzle in the olive oil and the salt and stir until the mixture looks evenly distributed. If you’d like, scrape the toast with a garlic clove that has been cut, being sure to scrape the cut end of the garlic onto the toast. Slather as much of the tomato mixture on the toast as you’d like and enjoy.