Tomato bread from Catalonia or pa amb tomàquet might be the most delicious and simplest comfort food that you can make at home and turn it into a quick and easy tapa. Basically, consists of a slice of bread rubbed with tomato and seasoned with salt and extra virgin olive oil.
The history and origin of this glorious slice of bread moistened with tomato pulp and olive oil is much discussed, however, it is clear that the majority of Spaniards considers it native of Catalonia, although, it is an ellaboration deeply rooted in Aragon, Community of Valencia, the Balearic Islands or Murcia as well.
Bread, salt, tomato and olive oil are the only four ingredients that you will need to archive a perfect pan tumaca —the Spanish term resulting from the phonetic adaptation of the Catalan original for this tomato bread—. However, you can find some modern variations which include Spanish cured ham, anchovies or even olives. Needless to say that we are going to show you the original recipe… Of course!
This bread with tomato recipe, a true miracle of Catalan cuisine, calls for the use of slices of Catalan rustic sourdough bread (pa de pagés) and a cluster of native tomatoes named tomàquet de penjar —Catalan language term whose literal translation would be tomatoes for hanging up—, a kind of heirloom tomato… Do not fret! We are suggesting substitutions in the tips below.
- 4 slices of stale or toasted rustic bread
- Salt to taste
- 2 De colgar tomatoes
- Extra virgin olive oil
- First, slice a loaf of bread and let it dry for one day or toast it a bit to harden the crumb; be careful not to overdo it.
- Then, sprinkle some salt to taste over each slice.
- Rub each slice with the cut side of a tomato until all the pulp is on the bread and only the tomato skin remains in your hands.
- Finally, drizzle with plenty of olive oil and enjoy a simple and authentic emblematic recipe from the Catalan cuisine.
- We recommend to bring all the ingredients separately to the table and so that each guest prepares his own Catalan tomato bread ... impossible to have it more freshly made!
Tips for a perfect tomato bread from Catalonia
- De colgar tomatoes are not easy to find even in Spain, outside of Catalonia. We recommend you use any kind of small heirloom or storage tomatoes. Jaune de Flamee or a long keeper variety would be perfect.
- Probably you will not be able to find the authentic Catalan rustic bread for this recipe, but you can replace it by slices of pain de Campagne or any rustic and sourdough loaf.
- It is said that stale bread was originally used for making these delicious tomato bread and the work of both tomato and olive oil was to soften it. However, there are currently many places where warm toasted bread slices are served. We encourage you to try both ways to prepare them and choose for yourself the one that you like the most.
- There is not a specific amount of olive oil for this recipe. Drizzling enough oil to fill any nook in the crumb and wet the slice with it would be enough.
- Spaniards worship garlic in any meal so if you are one of us: rub a garlic clove before salting and rubbing the tomato. The result will be absolutely delicious, although in the original recipe it is not essential.
- You will be able to find a similar recipe in the Balearic Islands named pa amb oli, which means bread with oil and is fairly the same recipe, but with local tomatoes (tomàtiga de ramellet).
- You can find this fare practically throughout the whole Spanish territory, although with certain variations. For example, in some areas grated tomato already mixed with olive oil and salt is used instead of rubbing the tomato on the bread; this method is considered a sacrilege by most purists. Do not follow it or you will be in danger of extinction!
Finally, serve your Catalan tomato bread along with a beer or a glass of wine to your taste. If you like you can garnish it with some slices of Spanish cured ham, anchovies or slices of Serrat cheese.