There are some recipes that manage to capture the best of a season with such effortless beauty, it practically takes your breath away. With the simplest of ingredients as their guide, recipes of this nature truly let the rhythms of the harvest take center stage, paying little to no mind to pretense and fussiness. This recipe, for a stunningly simple tomato toast – pan con tomate’ – is, to me, the epitome of seasonal cooking, of cooking with grace and care and attention to detail. They say that the devil is in the details, but I’d argue that heaven can be found there as well, true bliss. For with truly fantastic seasonal cooking, it’s the little things that so often shout the loudest. They’ll leave their mark to be sure.
The freshest heirloom tomatoes; sweet, juicy, and so ugly they’re cute. Crusty, fresh bread that you take care to slice yourself – that matters. Flaky salt. Some fresh garlic. Olive oil. That’s really all there is to this one. Some utterly basic pantry staples, anchored by a seasonal superstar: the heirloom tomato. This is something I make each and every summer – best later in the season – and it’s something of a revelation.
I certainly didn’t invent this – it’s roots are firmly planted in Spanish soil. In Catalan it’s pa amb tomàque. In Spanish, it’s Pan con Tomate’. In fact, I had it first in Spain about 11 years ago (but who’s counting right?) and speaking of roots, the deliciousness of that simple tapas dish I enjoyed one balmy evening in Granada was so powerful, that it took hold and hasn’t left me since. I truly look forward to it every summer. You can certainly whip it up any time of year – tomatoes can obviously be procured any time. But the flavor and quality and accessibility of great tomatoes this time of year makes it so very extra – the very best thing of summer, in my opinion. This is it, guys. Now is the time to make some otherworldly delicious tomato bread.
Mother Nature’s orders.
Rub one side of each toast slice with the cut side of a tomato, squeezing the juices and flesh out as you go. The amount of tomato juice you use is up to you, just make sure the entire surface of each slice is fully soaked. There is no right or wrong way to get that tomato goodness on your bread, so just go for it. Drizzle the tomato’ed slices with some olive oil (this is exactly the time to break out the good stuff) and finish with a sprinkling of flaky, crunchy sea salt. Enjoy. I know I do.