Looking for another easy appetizer string to add to your bow? Allow me to suggest this Spanish version of bruschetta (known in Spain as pan con tomate). It’s delicious, and the good news is that it’s just as easy if not easier to make as the Italian version.
If I had to sum up this Spanish bruschetta, I’d say that it’s far far tastier than the sum of its parts. For something with so few ingredients – just toasted bread slices, good tomatoes, garlic, salt and loads of olive oil – it’s mind-blowingly good.
I first ‘discovered’ it on a 3-month stint in Spain when I was a student many moons ago, then ‘rediscovered’ it on a recent trip there. If you’ve ever been to Spain, you’ll already know that you can get pan con tomate in pretty much any cafe. It’s a really popular snack, and I’ve never had a bad one, which to me suggests that you can’t go wrong if you make it yourself!
To be honest with you, the only reason I made it this last weekend was because I wanted to make something for the blog but was short on time, and this is what Mr. Scrummy very helpfully suggested that I make.
Poor Mr. Scrummy usually gets swiftly put in his place when he suggests things to make for the blog. He’s told bluntly that his idea isn’t original enough, or probably won’t be popular with readers, or something similar. What a mean wife I am.
But when he suggested this, I jumped at the idea – partly relieved to be able to reassure him that I don’t always pooh-pooh his ideas, but also genuinely excited about posting something that I love and am pretty sure you’ll love too!
So how do you make pan con tomate?
You need very few ingredients to make pan con tomate – just 5 very basic ones:
- fresh crusty bread
- ripe juicy tomatoes
- a garlic clove
- good quality olive oil
Most likely you already have these ingredients at home – perhaps apart from the bread which you can easily run out and get.
Use the very best!
The most important thing if you give this a go is to use the very best ingredients you can find. Because there are only a few ingredients, they’re all the stars of the show if you know what I mean. So get freshly made Mediterranean-style bread that you love (ciabatta or French baguette is fine), try to find big, juicy, in-season tomatoes, and a really good quality olive oil.
Pay particular attention to that olive oil, because you’re going to slosh quite a bit of it all over those gorgeous squished tomatoes.
So yeah, you have to squish the tomatoes! And get rid of the skin. But don’t worry because it’s the easiest thing in the world to do. Honestly, it is. You just slice each tomato in half, then rub it through a box grater (standing in a bowl) with the palm of your hand. You’ll end up with squished pulp that looks a bit like a simple tomato sauce, and the skin will be left quite neatly in your hand.
Just like magic!
Just like this:
Once you’ve got your tomato pulp, there’s hardly anything else to do. You literally just grill or broil your bread on both sides, drizzling a little olive oil over before you cook the second side.
Then, you cut a garlic clove in half and rub the cut side lightly over the bread, pile on the tomato pulp, grind over plenty of salt, and finally drizzle with more olive oil (don’t miss this part out). I like to finish with a few leaves of basil, but that’s totally optional.
The Spanish eat this for breakfast, which might seem strange, but believe me – enjoying one or two of these and a good old café con leche at a pavement café in the sunshine can NOT be beaten.
But let’s for argument’s sake assume that you’re not in the Mediterranean. You’re at home and putting up with a mostly indoor, sunshine-less reality (that’s me). These are still GREAT – as a mid-morning or mid-afternoon snack for yourself, or as a really simple canape or appetizer for guests.
Treat these just as you would bruschetta, basically.
I’m going to make these tomorrow for a guest, along with these crispy halloumi fries (which, incidentally, after you’ve made once, you’ll just keep on making!) 🙂
Spanish bruschetta (pan con tomate)
- 2 really good quality medium tomatoes or 1 large
- 4 slices of Mediterranean-style bread*
- extra virgin olive oil good quality
- 1 small garlic clove
Cut the tomatoes in half, then grate them coarsely into a bowl with a box grater by rubbing the cut side against the grater with the flat of your hand. Continue until you’re left with just the skin.
Grill or broil the bread on one side, then drizzle a little olive oil over the other side and grill or broil that side too.
Lightly rub the top of each piece of bread with the cut side of half the garlic clove.
Pile the tomato pulp onto the bread (leaving behind any excess water), sprinkle with salt, drizzle with more olive oil and scatter over a few basil leaves (if using). Serve immediately while the bread’s still warm.
*Double/Triple/Quadruple this recipe to make canapes. Simply use smaller rounds of bread e.g. French baguette.