Today, when I got the first real vine-ripened tomatoes, I knew EXACTLY what to make. Tomaquet is to Spain, in particular, to the Catalan, what bruschetta is to the Italians. Ask any Spaniard about tomato bread and they will get a faraway look in their eyes and wax on about tomaquet for, at the very least, 15 minutes. Good tomatoes, good bread and great olive oil are taken for granted in Spain. Here we have to wait for the tomatoes, search for or make good bread and great olive oil, usually imported from Spain (or Italy, if you must!), needs to be sought out. But in Barcelona, this is on every tapas table and sometimes is on large platter in bars…in other words, it’s everywhere.
I’ve made this in winter, with hot-house tomatoes and it was good, but with a summer, vine-ripened, juicy tomato, it is truly orgasmic! You’re thinking that The Goddess has been in the sun way too long. How could something, which appears to be so simple, be that good? When you make this, you’ll understand. Then, you’ll wonder why you didn’t think of something so supremely simple; I did when I ate this in Barcelona.
There are 3 things that make this:
I prefer to take a clove of garlic and rub the garlic over the toasted or in this case, grilled bread. The toasty parts sort of act like sand paper and with each swipe you remove just enough garlic to flavor the bread nicely.
A really fruity and flavorful olive oil is essential. I love Basilippo; it’s from a small artisanal producer in Spain. It has a rich, grassy flavor with notes of citrus and vanilla. This is a finishing oil, not a cooking oil. Fortunately, you don’t need to go to the olive farm in Spain to find it. You can find it here at Fairway Market on-line or in their stores, or at Amazon.
Is this not simplicity itself? It’s perfect for BBQ get-togethers. The good news is that some of the components can and really should be made ahead.You grate the tomato right down to the skin. Discard the skin. Now, leave the pulp in a bowl, loosely covered with plastic. It can sit at room temperature for at least an hour without any harm. I like the flavors to mingle a bit, before the party! You can add a bit of olive oil to the grated tomato (you can see the little orbs of goodness around the edge), but just a bit, because you’re going to drizzle some over the finished bread just before serving. Now, you can easily put it all together right at the BBQ. Uncork the cava, Spain’s sparkling wine. Most liquor stores carry it and cava is a perfect summer wine. It’s dry, with just a bit of fizz. When you make this, you will become a culinary hero (not a Goddess, that’s position is filled, thank you very much!) to all your friends.
I’ve sketched out a recipe, though it really isn’t necessary. Humor me…it’s what I do:
Catalan Tomato Bread (tomaquet)
- 1 or 2 vine-ripened tomatoes, washed, dried and the top cut off
- salt (I like Himalayan pink or Maldon)
- Really good olive oil (I love Basilippo oil from Spain)
- Crusty bread like ciabatta or sour dough, sliced in 1/2 horizontally
- Raw garlic clove(s) (optional, but seriously…why wouldn’t you?)
Grate the tomato, using the medium side of a cheese grater, over a bowl. You’re going to grate down to the skin, but not use the skin. I usually squeeze most of the seeds out, if I can, but it’s not a deal breaker.
Slice the bread lengthwise through the middle. Toast or grill the bread. Technically, you don’t need to do this, but it is sooo much better.
Rub a cut clove of garlic over the cut side of the bread. Spoon the tomato pulp onto bread (include some of the liquid, too); sprinkle with salt.
Drizzle the oil over the bread after you spoon the tomato onto the bread, slice into wedges and serve immediately.
NOTE: You can mix the tomato, salt, minced garlic and olive oil all together and spoon it over the grilled/toasted bread and it is delicious, but there’s something about the process; I swear it taste better. It’s also sort of rustic and works well on every level of the summer BBQ.
Catalan Tomato Bread (tomaquet) Recipe©Marcia Lahens 2015. All rights reserved.