Pan con tomate (Spanish-style toast with tomato)

If you visit Valencia, Spain, you will find that Spanish people eat a lot. They eat about 7 times a day, but small meals. This is one of the first meals of the day, a humble piece of toast with tomato and extra virgin olive oil. In a few hours, they will probably have some small sandwiches “bocadillos” or “tortilla de patata.”
One of the loveliest things about Spain was waking up late and strolling outside the apartment at 
10 or 11am. There would be cafes at every corner and groups of old men or singles sitting and 
drinking their cafe con leche or orange juice with a little croissant or mini sandwiches. 
This super simple but very traditional late breakfast is literally called “bread with tomato”.
Outside cafes, you will read chalkboards promoting “cafe con leche y pan tostada con
marmelada o tomate” for 3 euros or so. If you wanted the best ones, you better go to a
bakery/cafe that bakes fresh bread.
Once you order it, you could hear them cutting into the crust from a few tables away.
With a quick toast, they would spoon over some crushed tomato and bring it over with your
cafe con leche. At each table there would be salt and the Spanish extra virgin olive oil to
drizzle over your toast. It has to be the very best of the Mediterranean diet- fresh tomato,
olive oil, and a good, seeded bread if you’re lucky. Sometimes you can add the beautiful Iberico ham
so it becomes like an open-faced sandwich, but if you get good fresh tomatoes, it is so enjoyable
just to have the mix of tomato and olive oil. The combination of the olive oil cuts the acidity of
the tomato just enough to make it warmly coat the tongue.
Hope you enjoy this classic Spanish breakfast. You must have very good bread- and all the ingredients must be high quality really. Bon provecho!

The recipe is below, but watch a video I made here!


  • 1 (6″) piece of baguette, halved lengthwise
  • 2 T extra virgin olive oil (get the best)
  • 1 very ripe tomato
  • Coarse sea salt, to taste
Grate tomato with a box grater into a bowl. Discard seeds if you want a smoother texture. Meanwhile toast the bread in a small oven or in a large oven at 500 F, for about 8 minutes. 
Then, spoon the tomato over the bread. Serve alongside olive oil and salt so you can put it on as you eat it. That’s the way they serve it in the cafes.

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