You know those days where you forget to set your alarm clock, and when you get out of bed and hour late, your hair is sleep-sculpted into a style reminiscent to Flock of Seagulls? Then, you can’t find your keys, and when you finally do, you’re running out the door wearing only one earring and stuffing a piece of raw toast (aka: bread) into your mouth? Well, due to some fun reasons (Amsterdam, anyone?), and some frazzling reasons, this has been a month where I’ve felt like the treadmill is one speed too fast. So, I’m happy to be back here, cooking and writing in one of my favorite places, with some of my favorite people (you!).
In order to get back into the swing of things, I wanted to share a quick bite with you. The Mister and I first discovered pan con tomate on our trip to Spain last year. Our bus, from Madrid to Granada, had taken a pitstop in the countryside. The service station there housed a long, diner-like counter. The man behind the counter brewed espresso, and fixed quick bites for the travelers to eat. I watched a girl, sitting at one of the rickety tables in the seating area, pour what looked like fresh crushed tomatoes from a syrup pitcher onto a piece of toasted crusty bread. She drizzled olive oil over top and sprinkled it with salt. I jabbed the Mister. I want that. That’s what I want! We saw “Pan con Tomate” written in chalk on the menu board and ordered.
The Mister and I doctored up our bread like we saw the locals do, and crunched into our first bites. I couldn’t believe how simultaneously sweet, tangy and earthy the combination of the tomatoes were when drizzled with good olive oil. In Spain, pan con tomate is served for breakfast, lunch and as an afternoon snack to hold you over until dinnertime, which is usually quite late by American standards. Pan con tomate soon became my breakfast of choice.
Now’s the time of year when the tomatoes on my 16 massive plants are ready to harvest. When I harvested a “Mortgage Lifter” tomato last week that weighed in at a pound, its destiny was already chosen. I may be running around like the pigeon lady muttering to-do lists, with two unmatched socks, but at least I can rest assured that when I come home, during these early-autumn harvest days, simple soul-satisfying food is just steps away.
- 1 crusty baguette, halved lengthwise
- 1 large, ripe beefsteak type tomato (about 1 pound), halved
- good quality olive oil, for drizzling
- sea salt or kosher salt to taste
- freshly ground black pepper
- 2 large cloves garlic, peeled and halved
- Preheat oven to 350˚F.
- Slice the tomato in half, and grate with the large holes of a box grater, discarding most of the skin.
- Cut the baguette halves into serving-size pieces (2 or 3 pieces each half). Bake the baguette slices in the oven for 4-6 minutes until lightly toasted. Rub the cloves of garlic on the bread. Drizzle olive oil onto the bread, then spoon the grated tomato onto the bread. Drizzle with more olive oil, sprinkle generously with salt and freshly ground black pepper.