Recipe: Pa Amb Tomàquet
Jenny Osburn | The Union Street Cafe Cookbook | jennyosburn.com
My two-year-old and I wandered into a little coffee bar one morning in Granada a few years ago. It had snowed lightly the night before and the air was chilly and damp. The bar was warm and smelled soothingly of coffee and oranges. I balanced my daughter on a barstool and ordered, cafe con leche for me and freshly squeezed orange juice for her. Next to me, a woman was preparing her breakfast. She poured a thin stream of olive oil over toasted bread that had been spread with a layer of what I first thought was pale strawberry jam. She sprinkled that with salt and dug in.
I don’t speak Spanish but I used my few words to say “disculpe por favor, que?” which I hoped meant something like “please excuse me, what is that?” I pointed to her plate, smiling to show that I wasn’t rude, just ignorant. She smiled back and pointed to the menu: Pan con tomate.
Aha! I asked the bartender to bring an order for us and we copied what our neighbour had done, pouring olive oil from the bottle on the bar and adding a little salt. We ate, and it was spectacularly delicious like everything else we had eaten in Spain. We thanked the sweet stranger and the bartender and left with a new favourite tomato sandwich.
This dish is Catalonian in origin, where it is called Pa amb tomàquet, and is a favourite in many parts of Spain. It’s served as a tapa, a light lunch or dinner side, or as we had it, at breakfast. It’s the perfect thing to make when you have luscious, ripe tomatoes crowding your counter (but I’d make it at other times, too!)
First, toast some delicious, substantial bread (I highly recommend Guy et Marie’s whole wheat sourdough loaf). Cut a tomato in half and rub it flesh side down over the large holes of a grater until all you are left with is skin, which you can eat or discard. Lightly salt the chopped pulp. When your bread is toasted, you can rub it with a cut clove of garlic (or not, it’s delicious either way). Spoon some of the tomato pulp over top and spread lightly. Drizzle your toast with good olive oil and maybe a few grains of salt, then devour.
Jenny Osburn is the author of The Union Street Café Cookbook. Her second collaboration with Laura MacDonald of Deep Hollow Print, The Kitchen Party Cookbook, is now available! Find more recipes at jennyosburn.com and see what she’s up to on instagram at jenny.osburn