When you’re in Barcelona, you should be prepared to eat a lot of tomato and bread.
You’ll get served pa amb tomàquet so often you might think someone is playing a joke on you. It’s eaten for breakfast, served as an appetizer at lunch or dinner, and plated up in Catalan homes throughout the country. In fact, it’s one of the most typical foods in Barcelona!
For something so delicious, it’s surprisingly simple to make. Just take rustic toasted bread, raw garlic, fresh ripe tomatoes, olive oil, and salt and you have a delicious dish waiting to happen.
And once you try it, you’ll never put butter on your bread again!
Get our recipe for pan amb tomàquet below.
A Taste of the Mediterranean
Has any dish better represented the Mediterranean diet than this? Bread, olive oil, tomatoes, and garlic… these are the roots of Catalan cuisine!
Most tapas bars will serve it pre-made, but some will just give you the ingredients. Prepare it yourself at the table by copying the locals around you! Accompany it with different cured meats (butifarra, Spanish ham, fuet) or simple grilled vegetables (called escalivada).
While tomatoes only came to Spain after the colonization of the Americas, pa amb tomàquet was first documented in the 18th century. Catalan historians say it first came around during a plentiful tomato harvest! Rural townsfolk would rub them on dry, stale bread to soften it for eating.
It’s traditional to use the wide and flat coca bread for this dish, though any rustic loaf will do in a pinch. Likewise, make sure to only get the best extra virgin olive oil! (Spanish olive oil, of course!).
So how do you make it at home?
Pa amb Tomàquet Recipe: Catalan Tomato Bread
- Recipe Type: Appetizer
- Cuisine: Catalan
- Prep time: 5 mins
- Cook time: 10 mins
- Total time: 15 mins
- Serves: 4
- 1 rustic coca bread loaf, thinly sliced (or any rustic country-style loaf)
- 4 cloves unpeeled garlic, halved
- 2 ripe tomatoes, halved
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Flaky sea salt, to season
- Toast the bread slices. Use a toaster, or bake in an oven at 400 degrees Fahrenheit (200 degrees Celsius) until golden and crispy.
- To prepare a slice, take one of the halves of garlic and rub it (cut side down) on the surface of the bread. Your own taste preference will tell you how much of the garlic to use.
- Take one of the halves of tomato and do the same. Be as even as possible, and use as much of the tomato as you can.
- Drizzle the bread with the olive oil (be generous), and sprinkle with salt.
- Eat and repeat with remaining bread slices! Doing them one at a time will stop the bread from getting too soggy before eating.
Want to make pa amb tomàquet and several more of our favorite tapas with a Barcelona local? Check out our online tapas and sangria cooking class and turn your home into a tapas bar!
David discovered his inner Spaniard while studying in Seville, and it’s now his life’s mission to learn everything he can about his adopted country’s culture and cuisine. He can usually be found eating in a busy tapas bar or strolling in a quiet street. Head to the Everyday Food Blog for more!