The most basic of dishes, and yet one of the most traditional celebrated offerings in Spanish cuisine. Pa Amb Tomàquet (or Pan con Tomate – Bread with Tomato) was a dish, like many, born from hunger and a lack of food. The origins date back to the combination of ‘bread with oil’ inherited from Greece and spread throughout the mediterranean. The introduction of tomatoes to Spain in the 18th Century, saw the dish evolve and became a creative way of re-softening and using stale bread to avoid wastage. To this day, this dish is interwoven into the fabric of Spanish identity. Prepared at home as well as in bars and restaurants, for many, it is sunshine on a plate.
Being such a super simple recipe, I highly recommend using only quality ingredients – you cannot hide behind flourishes with this dish!
The two key ingredients are your bread and your tomato. The bread should be thick crusted if possible (like a sourdough or artisan white bread). Traditionally, pa amb tomàquet is made using slightly stale bread, but you can toast the bread to dry it out for this recipe.
The tomatoes you use also really matter. You want your tomatoes to be very ripe. The best tomatoes to use in Australia are vine tomatoes – not easy to find year-round though with the same intensity of flavour you experience in summer.
My tomato hack? If tomatoes are out of season, I use whole, canned tomatoes. I find the sweetness to be just as intense and great to use at any time of year! When using canned, I place the whole tomato in a bowl and gently mash with a fork.
Lastly, but not least – the olive oil. Please, please … use the very best extra virgin olive oil you can afford. It makes all the difference and provides a wonderfully unique pepperiness that finishes the dish perfectly.
Bon profit! I hope you enjoy it, Raquel x
Pa Amb Tomàquet (Catalan Tomato Bread)