Catalan Tomato Tostadas (Pa amb Tomàquet)
Possibly the simplest recipe yet? Classified as homemade but doesn't require much preparation or laborious effort - I love recipes like this, what a scam! This is a Catalan recipe, though it's enjoyed in tapas bars and homes all over Spain under various different names (Spain consists of many distinct Iberian languages).
I travelled through the south of Spain this year and this was a beauty of a snack during my visit, best enjoyed in the shade and evading the slow drain of the afternoon sun. These little tostadas are very nice with a frosty glass of uncomplicated wine - white or rosé - and some marinated olives or Serrano ham.
This is a dish that you could make in advance, though Catalan culture would sometimes turn its nose up at doing do. It's believed that all of the ingredients - tomato, garlic, oil, salt - should not meet until they are placed onto the bread. The bread should be 'painted' with crushed garlic, then spread with tomato, then drizzled with oil and sprinkled with salt. You can make your own rules as to how you want to eat it, I'm certainly not going to boss you about.
Best quality tomatoes are required here, seeing as it is such an elementary dish. Buy them on the vine, keeping in mind they're especially delicious in their season (July to late September). Not to mention olive oil - get some good extra virgin olive oil, Spanish-origin makes sense and it's too difficult, nor expensive, to buy. And a fresh baguette is a must. Once you have all these at your fingertips, pick a shady spot outside, chill a bottle of wine and unplug the phone.
CATALAN TOMATO TOSTADAS
- One large white Baguette
- 6 large Vine Tomatoes
- 4 cloves Garlic
- Sea Salt for sprinkling
- Spanish-Origin Extra Virgin Olive Oil for drizzling
- We begin by pasting the garlic. Peel 4 cloves of garlic and grind them in a pestle and mortar, or grate them until they are a mush. You can even place them into a bowl and pound them with the end of a rolling pin. You want a rough paste. Leave this to sit in a little dish while we prepare the tomatoes.
- Take your 6 vine tomatoes and chop each one into halves. Take each half and grate it with a box grater, using a large grate-size. The skin of the tomato should naturally detach from the flesh as you grate it - take the leftover skins and just discard them. Grate your tomato flesh into a bowl. There will be a lot of liquid, which is normal - some people don't like it as liquid, if so you can leave it to sit in a sieve to drain for a few minutes. If using tomatoes out of season, add a little pinch of sugar to enhance the flavour.
- Once the tomatoes are grated, take your baguette and cut little round pieces of bread. Place them onto a foil-lined tray and place under a hot grill (or in a 180C oven) for 1-2 minutes until gently toasted. Leave to cool for a few minutes.
- Take your toasts and spread a little garlic paste onto them - a little goes a long way - using a pastry brush or a teaspoon. Then spoon on some of the grated tomato, add a drizzle of olive oil and a scrunch of sea salt to taste. Kick back and enjoy an innocent pleasure!