Pan Con Tomate

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Ripe tomatoes, garlic, sea salt, , sherry vinegar, olive oil and bread. Simplicity at its finest when it comes to tasting each ingredient alone and as part of a magnificent symphony. Pan con tomate or tomato bread is as magic a tapas as you will find, and the best part is you can whip it up when the mood takes you with minimal effort and maximum yaaaaaaassssss. There are as many different version of this as there are tapas bars in Madrid. Some call for the tomato and garlic to be grazed across the bread once it is toasted. I prefer a more aggressive approach to topping the bread, with all the flavor coming at me.

With few ingredients comes the call to action to use the best produce and products you can. Get a peppery extra virgin local olive oil from small passionate producers. Salt flakes that crunch with flavor. Organic garlic. locally baked sourdough bread that is fresh and dense. Of course this is best when the tomatoes are sweet and at their peak, but more than passable when they are from the supermarket and you simply have to have this dish.  If you aren't eating pan con tomate in the long hours of summer sunlight, it will hasten them to you with its lingering deliciousness.


1 loaf fresh sourdough (can also use olive or japapeno bread) sliced thickly

4 large ripe tomatoes

4 fat cloves garlic, finely chopped (or to taste if you like a milder experience)

flake sea salt

extra virgin olive oil

sherry vinegar

chili flakes + fresh ground black or white pepper (optional)

Let's DO This!

  1. Heat your oven to 180 degrees. 
  2. On a rack in a baking tray place 6 medium slices bread or 4 large ones. 
  3. Drizzle bread with olive oil generously, season with sea salt and place in oven toast (you can also use your oven's grill for this or a grill plate on the BBQ)
  4. Cut tomatoes in half. Using a box grater on the largest hole, gently grate the flesh, leaving behind the skin, when you finish you should just have the empty skin left in your hand.
  5. Stir in garlic, season with salt, pepper, sherry to taste.
  6. When bread is toasted/grilled to your liking, top with the tomato mix.
  7. Drizzle with additional olive oil and serve.


Polly McGee