tomato bread + a bit about spain

Before we had kids — you know, when we got to do whatever we wanted, whenever we wanted, or so it seems in glowy hindsight — we went on vacation whenever we found an intersection of cheap airfare and unused vacation time. Then (and I bet this isn’t an unfamiliar story) we had a kid and travel abruptly stopped. What with all of the upbeat stories of angelic children on airplanes, enthusiastically staying seated for 8+ hours and effortlessly adapting to new time zones and cuisines, I can’t imagine how, can you? Plus, between naptimes and nappies and strollers and sippies and snack cups, wouldn’t we just be spending a considerable amount of money just to find a new group of strangers to apologize for our kids-being-kids to?

las ramblas gaudi's casa milà black vermouth at bar kasparo
bar kasparo xurros/churros, xurreria dels banys nous xurros/churros, xurreria dels banys nous
first cortado barcelona hostal de la granota

Fortunately, a couple of years in, reality set in too: we’re parents, we have kids, we’re not getting any younger. We don’t wait to wait 20 years to see the world again, so going on kid-adjusted vacations is still better than staying home. I’m so glad we did.

first house first house first meal in ullastret, can guel
second house naptime in a house twice as old as america our house
Untitled cadaques boqueria

What’s a “kid-adjusted” vacation? It’s going to be something different to each family. For us, it mostly means making sure every hotel and apartment for a summer trip has a pool (likely the part they’ll remember most). Traveling with another family with similar vacation priories (do things, but not too much) and children of similar ages has made it wildly more enjoyable. But mostly, it means doing a whole lot less. So, no, we didn’t make it to [name the top-tier restaurants wherever we went], we didn’t see [quiet exhibit in a big museum], we also missed [the thing you’re about to send me an all-caps email expressing your disappointment over; I agree, it would have been lovely] but we got to Spain (I’d never been). We walked the streets, we ate the potato tortillas and paella and patatas bravas, we drank the vermouth and gin-tonics, we saw the coast, we swam in the ocean, and we had a fantastic vacation.

girona our front door in ullastret pals beach
pals beach platja de pals ice cream truck girona
bar mendizabal bar mendizabal date night, bar cañete, sorry about our feet

I’ve attempted to round-up some of the place we went and some of the places I wished we’d gotten to on this page. As with my recommendations from other places we’ve been, please remember that I’m very much a non-expert. I went on a 12-day vacation and this is really just the tip of the iceberg of things that one can do in Catalonia. But maybe it will get you daydreaming too.

[A few favorites in Spain.]

I realize we are getting on in tomato season, but one cannot travel to Catalonia without falling in love with tomato bread. Besides, it’s not fall yet so I am calling at least a 9-day moratorium on pumpkin spice, at least in my Smitten Kitchen kingdom.

grilled or toasted breadmethod one: tomato rubbed onto breada scant toppingtomato bread - pan con tomate - pa amb tomàquet

Pa amb tomàquet, also known as pan con tomate or as we call it here, tomato bread, is a staple of Catalan cuisine, although it is known all over Spain. It’s eaten for breakfast, as a tapa, with dinner, or basically any time you wish. Every restaurant has it and more often than not, it comes out with a dish and isn’t something you need to separately order. To turn it into more of a meal, you can top the bread with sliced jamón or anchovy fillets, or serve it alongside chorizo or a potato tortilla. Could you put an olive oil-fried egg on it? Yes, and I hope you do.

While it sounds incredibly basic — bread, usually but not always toasted, with a raw tomato half rubbed over it, seasoned with olive oil and salt, and sometimes raw garlic is rubbed on the bread before the tomato — in any recipe, the fewer the ingredients, the more the quality matters. Make this while it’s still tomato season. Make this with the olive oil you’ve been saving for something special.

The bread is rustic and crusty, like a short, wide baguette. Pan de cristal is traditional, but uncommon outside Spain. I use ciabatta at home, but a baguette will also work. There is even a traditional tomato used (tomata de penjar) which is mature and juicy and somehow just the right size for a split piece of bread. If you can find campari tomatoes (about the size of golf balls), I’d consider those the closest frequently available at U.S. grocery stores. But any peak-season, juicy, flavorful tomato will work.

There are two primary methods to make pa amb tomàquet, the first is as I described above: toasted bread with tomato rubbed onto it, seasoned with olive oil and salt. To our delight, there are restaurants that will send out the bread, tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, and salt out on a plate for you to make your own. In the less traditional method, which I understand you see more outside Catalonia (correct me if I’m wrong), the tomato is grated on the large holes of a box grater, seasoned with salt and olive oil, and is then spooned on toasted bread that you may or may not have rubbed with a garlic clove. This method also yields a thicker tomato layer, closer to bruschetta.

a beefsteak, quarteredmethod two: grated tomatograted tomat, olive oil, salttomato bread - pan con tomate - pa amb tomàquet

Tomato Bread, Pa amb Tomàquet or Pan con Tomate

  • 2 6-inch lengths baguette or ciabatta, cut open the long way
  • 1 whole garlic clove, peeled
  • 1 large (12 ounces is ideal) tomato, quartered or a few campari (golf-ball sized) tomatoes, halved
  • A couple tablespoons olive oil
  • Flaky sea salt

Both methods: Grill or toast your bread fairly crunchy as it will soften quickly under the tomatoes. The moment it’s done, if you want it garlicky, rub the cut side with the peeled garlic clove. The heat and abrasion helps the garlic release its juices and infuses the bread. From here, the methods diverge.

More traditional to what we saw in Catalonia: Rub your tomato over the toasted bread surface, using the rough edge to grate it a little to your desired level of tomato application (leaving the skins behind). Drizzle generously with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Cut into sections.

Less common, but good for making it for a crowd or if you want more tomato on top: Rub the cut side of your tomatoes over the large holes of a box grater set in a wide, shallow bowl. Grate only the flesh; leave the skin behind. Generously season the tomato mixture with olive oil and salt. Spoon it onto your toasted or grilled bread. Cut into sections.

Serve: Plain, or with jamon, anchovies, chorizo or as side to any tapa (such as potato tortilla) or salad.

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149 comments on tomato bread + a bit about spain

    1. Ooh, so glad to see this simple recipe here! Im from the US but live in Barcelona, Spain, so I know, how special this is! It’s a shame that pan de cristal is hard to find.. It really is the best way to have it. But if course, a baguette will do. Thanks for sharing and fantastic photos!!

  1. Nancy

    Love tomato bread! I love it so much that I use the box grater method even if I’m making for two, because we cannot stop eating this. Best with the ripest tomatoes you can find, but still very good with a supermarket tomato. Definitely need the salt for fullest flavor.

  2. Emma D

    LOVE Bar Canete in Barca! Took my two fussy kids there for dinner two years ago and even they had a blast! Delicious food and I love that “F the diet” is their wonderful tagline. Also love the Costa Brava – Aguablava is a cute place on the coast with two great hotels….if you ever decide to go back!

  3. I make the non-traditional version often – I’ve also found it helpful to grate the tomato over a screened colander or sifter/strainer and let some of the juice flow out – you end up with a little bit thicker puree, which is great spread over toasted bread. Also suggest a thin sliver of manchego on top…

  4. Julie

    Now I can’t stop thinking about eating those lovely pan con tomate on my deck with a glass of sauvignon blanc. OR turning it into a special version of panzanella (my husband is making mozzarella cheese tomorrow). The photos are beautiful, I’m so glad you had such a lovely trip!

    1. deb

      (my husband is making mozzarella cheese tomorrow) >> Funny you say this because so is my husband! I signed him up for a class. For his birthday but I think we all know it was mostly because I want him to make us some like all the time.

  5. Liz

    Did you eat anything amb “reconciliamatrimonios” in Catalonia? I went to a tapas bar where they served that on potatoes, and I just HAD to ask the bartender what that meant. (Spoiler: it’s a spicy red sauce.)

    Did you have soft cheese and honey for breakfast? Also a great Catalan thing.

    I really liked Spain’s food (garlic, olive oil and tomatoes in everything!), but had a real hard time getting enough green stuff. Walked miles everyday and still came home 5 lbs heavier than when I left. How’d you do on finding veggies?

    1. deb

      I tried to Google the word but nothing came up. We definitely had some delicious things on potatoes, often octopus.

      I am sure veggies exist but agree that I ate fewer than I do at home. But, perhaps they’re not as central in a tapas situation (being traditionally bar appetizers), which we did a lot of because the flexibility and small bites are great with kids. Lots of padron peppers, however, and I had some lovely green beans one day too. Gaining weight? Ha, I had a stomach bug the last 5 days so rather the opposite.

          1. Liz

            As I understand it from the bartender’s explanation, it’s called that because the sauce is spicy enough to rekindle a tired marriage. (Yes, you’re right: it translates like it sounds.)

      1. Liz

        I took a culinary tour in San Sebastián recently and someone mentioned a lack of veggies in restaurant and on menus. It was explained to us that, throughout Spain, the in-home diets are market-driven and very vegetable-friendly. So, when Spaniards go out, they eat differently than they do at home: more meat, more seafood, etc. I don’t know how true it is, but it made a lot of sense to me!

        1. E

          This makes sense! When we were last in Spain we would ooh and aah over the amazing displays of beautiful vegetables in the markets and then be horribly disappointed that there was nary a veggie to be found in a restaurant that hadn’t been deep fried to within an inch of it’s life… we ended up booking airbnbs as we went, rather than hostels or hotels, just so that we could cook and eat some vegetables once in a while. Not that the fried stuff is not delicious mind you…

          1. Lisa Weis

            I made this a few minutes ago! On my own, but I think I remembered this post. I forgot to rub the tomatoes on the bread, just did slices. I have those exact tomatoes from my farm stand right now. Gonna make it again tomorrow and wow my husband!

    2. maria

      To be honest, and Ive lived here for 21 years, the whole fresh fruit /veg med diet thing is grossly exaggerated, and is relatively expensive for under ripe tasteless produce. Probably September through October sees the best ripe tomatoes (bursting juice and flavour) decent glossy ripe aubergine and juicy RIPE red and green peppers. Maybe reasonable courgettes and avocados (hass) not rock hard and already going black. So maybe caponata bottled up for winter. But thats about it. That said we have the best pork products in the world. Wonderful sustainable line caught tuna. Pulpo in the galician style. Lamb with rosemary and patatas pobre or with white beans. Oh yes. Morcilla from Ronda
      knocks spots off scottish black pudding. Just not any greens to speak of. X

  6. Jessica

    This post came at the perfect moment for me. We just took our one year old daughter on a trip and it was such a departure from previous vacations as a couple. We learned a lot and in all honesty, had many moments where we thought, “we should have just stayed home’. But like you said, there is a big world out there to explore and you can’t wait to do it. So adjusting expectations and being thankful for the things you are able to see are both wonderful pieces of advice. I’m glad you enjoyed Spain and thank you for sharing so much on your wonderful blog!

    1. deb

      Our first with-kid international trip was to Rome and we many times had that feeling. But he still talks about it and I remember every bite that we ate. It’s a learning curve; we figured out some things that trip that we now know to adjust for, etc. It gets easier each time. (I hope!)

  7. Amada Beatriz

    My husband is from Barcelona and we eat Pa amb tomaquet fairly often in our home here in the US. Here are some tips his fathter passed on to me too:
    -if you grate tomatoes on the smallest holes of your grater, you actually get a very similar texture and flavor as with the traditional method but you waste less of the tomato. An upside is that if you have leftover tomato juice, you can just store it in a container in the fridge and use whenever you fancy.
    -a great topping is Manchego cheese.
    -when we lived in NYC we found that the closest thing tanother great bread to use with Pa amb Tomaquet is Peasant Bread (Morton Williams sells a very good loaf!). The bread is similar to Pa de Palles which is what some rural areas in Catalonia use instead of baguettes.

  8. Andrea

    Across Northern Spain, we saw many food mills on sale for pan con tomate. We’d see the bowl of milled tomatoes at breakfast near the toaster, with olive oil and sea salt. So delicious!

  9. We have this a couple of times a week in summer, instead of potatoes (husband is a meat and potatoes kind of guy). I can see Spain from my window, so that might have something to do with it (just north of Barcelona and a little inland…Carcassonne is the perfect destination with kids–BIG castles, lots of medieval knights and such re-enacting, and not expensive).
    We often use leftover baguettes, because they toast nicely on the grill. Toasting enables garlic grating, and we consider more garlic better.

    1. meterrilee

      Carcassonne is indeed (quite a bit) north and inland from Barcelona, but also, it’s in France. I agree with you that it is an amazing, ancient walled city. But there are also really awesome castles and walled cities in Spain! Avila, Seville, Toledo, Segovia… all have castles and some with walls–all are wonderful for wandering. :)

  10. Marcella

    Crying because I studied abroad in Sevilla and pan con tomate was my favorite. Now I also try to recreate one of my fave bocadillos, toasted bread, tuna, olive oil, and salt and pepper. My host dad would eat tostada for breakfast and just glug glug glug that gallon of olive oil jug we had in the kitchen on it with NOTHING ELSE!

  11. Ha! A good decade ago I read about pa amb tomàquet in a Spanish cookbook that came my way, and I excitedly brought some toasted bread and tomato to assemble at work. The reactions in the breakroom were so egregious — “did you see what he did? just rubbing that tomato on that bread?!” — that I haven’t eaten it since, more’s the pity! Maybe it’s time for some healing there, because it was really quite lovely. Thanks for the jumpstart.

  12. Annie

    What are your thoughts on using high quality canned tomatoes, for making this off-season? Because I can already tell right now I’m gonna want to eat it every day.

    1. mireia

      I’m from Mallorca in the Balearic Islands and we do use home-made cannes tomatoes to make a version of it in winter (even though we have a type of tomato that you can store all year round). We squash the canned tomatoes, put some raw sliced green onions, minced garlic and plenty of salt and proper and put that on bread… you can keep whatever’s left on a container in the fridge for 1-2 days.
      Canned tomatoes must be the best quality you can find, though!

  13. Yes to the pumpkin moratorium! I feel like I’m always the last person to bake with it, but I have okra and tomatoes (so many tomatoes) to still enjoy.

    I totally feel you on the traveling in a kid-adapted way. We don’t have anyone we could leave our kids with, and really, I want them to experience traveling – all the different sights, smells, foods. For me, I think the anxiety (and the packing) leading up to it is more stressful than actually doing it.

  14. Sarah

    I loved eating this for breakfast when I studied abroad in Sevilla! Do you think the grated tomato would keep in the fridge for breakfast or does it need to be fresh?

  15. Ha ha, your post is so spot on with respect to kids and vacations! Hang in there! Our kids are now 21 and (almost) 23 and now we can go and do whatever we want! It will happen, although I do miss hanging with them sometimes. It does make the vacations where we can all get together that much more special. And, they do remember the pool!

  16. stpierre3

    We try every summer to get sick of Catalan bread, and every summer we fail. (Our first time in Barcelona “Catalan bread” seemed to be the en vogue translation, and it’s stuck for us, even as “tomato bread” has become more common on menus.) We usually make it yet a third way: Since I’m usually making other Catalan food along with it, which almost universally requires a sofregit, I save the seeds and other goop from all the tomatoes I cut for the sofregit and use it to make the Catalan bread. It’s frugal, but doesn’t negatively impact the quality of the dish at all.

    I like to use the Italian batter bread from Bernard Clayton’s Complete Book of Bread — it’s got the nice airy texture to catch all of the tomato, and the loaf is usually huge so you get truly massive slices of Catalan bread.

    Plus, put some jamón and another slice of bread on top and you’ve got a bocadillo, the €3 lunch of choice for the discriminating traveler (or four-year-old who claims she’s sick of Catalan food) in Catalonia.

  17. I ♥♥♥ tomato bread! I’ve been using the box grater method for making a raw tomato pasta sauce all summer and only recently discovered it was great for tomato bread. I like mine with a little more tomato than just rubbing the tomato on the bread. When putting it on pasta, I usually stir in a tablespoon or so of pesto. My favorite summer treat!

  18. Taylor

    A few weeks ago I made Pan con Tomate as a side to your Lentils with Burrata. Beautiful late summer pairing! When in Spain, all you ever need is Iberian ham, manchego, pan con tomate, and Claras. I’m glad you and the family were able to experience!

  19. Genial! Me ha encantado tu artículo. Has sabido captar la diversidad de parte de la gastronomía española sin caer en los tópicos. Incluso teniendo Cataluña aquí al lado me ha apetecido hacerme un pan con tomate ;-) me alegro que hayáis disfrutado en España. Saludos!

  20. Maria

    Oh Deb! I grew up there (near Girona). So your photos are making me equal parts happy and nostalgic. I’m half Catalan, half English, living in the UK now (before you tell me: I know! it’s not that far to fly from the UK to Barcelona, and I do it lots).

    I love that you’ve (of course!) done your research – tomaquets de penjar, indeed.

    I was actually in Barcelona for a brief visit about the same time as you, judging by the dates on your photos. Loooove the photo of your darling girl on the red metal bridge in Gerona.

    sorry to ramble – your post made me happy. Glad you loved the food (what’s not to love really?).

  21. Ashley

    Deb – I’ve always considered you my kitchen spirit animal but with this post you’ve also become my mommy role model. We’re only 18 months into kiddo number one, but I so so appreciate this perspective re: travel. It’s good to know there’s a light at the end of the tunnel (albeit a totally different light than pre-kids) and that the tunnel’s length is not equal to 20 years. Thank you!

  22. Lisa

    I’ve never been to Spain but I’ve been making this with a clam, corn and bacon dish from a recipe I saw in the NY Times a number of years ago. I grate the tomatoes on a box grater. It’s delicious.

  23. G

    Your alternative technique is accurate, but I’m not sure why your grater photo shows grated skins. You grate the cut side of the tomato to avoid getting skin in the dish. Essentially, it’s doing the same thing as the traditional, without wasting any tomato flesh. If you press gently, the skin will bend outward, and you can grate until there is only skin left. (And then quick microwave-dry the skins for a fresh tomato powder!)

    I’d highly recommend broiling the bread over toasting, if you’re not going to (or able to) grill it. It’s quick, and offers flavour and texture much closer to grilling than dry toasting.

    Also, for more flavoured bread, add oil to the bread before or after broiling.

      1. G

        You can dry them in a microwave quite quickly, and grind them into powder. There are a bunch of tips out there; I like Serious Eats’ rundown of tomato powder and other vegetables myself.

  24. Holly

    Love this post and so glad you realized that you just have to go anyway! We have made great memories traveling with our kids, but i know they are very different memories than we make when we travel solo. Our philosophy is this: low expectations, and lots of options. Sure we may not do them all, but we always have a plan b (and sometimes c). Experiencing culture is fun even if you’re young! Our kids loved trying different flavors of gelato every day (sometimes twice daily) in Italy, running the trails in the Cinque Terre, even though we skipped the Uffizi. Our kids are some of our favorite people, so we always have fun! Also, Tomato Bread! I haven’t been to Spain since college, but still dream of this….it’s on our short list of where to go next!

  25. Farrah

    We’ve also traveled to Spain with kids. Such a great place to travel because everyone has their kids out at all hours and no one cares if they have a tantrum in public.
    Check out San Sebastien if you make it back. The most amazing food served stand-up at bars, so easy to eat well even with kids. Plus it’s foodie heaven.

    Love your recipes–your instagram feed makes me drool

  26. Lara

    This post has made me sooo nostalgic. I spent a lot of time in this area as a child as my parents had a place in L’Escala. Sod seeing the world- now I’ve read this I just want to go back to the Costa Brava! Cadaques and Begur are indeed lovely, although it would appear we have opposite taste in beaches as Pals is not my idea of a good time. I like the small pebbly coves with fewer people. Pebbles mean good snorkelling :)

    Aguablava as someone below has mentioned is itself lovely and just a short walk from my idea of a perfect pebbly beach. Llafranc is also a town I often recommend to people who are first visiting the area. Same for Palafrugell. Also, Peratellada, an inland town, had the best traditional restaurant I have ever been to and I returned every year for my birthday And the town itself was charming to walk around. And the Mas De Torrent hotel, which was vaguely near there if I recall correctly, always held a special place in my young heart.

    You’re going to hate me for saying this but my best childhood memory of a museum was the Dali Museum, it really was great for kids and I would encourage everyone to visit if they can. But I don’t think you missed loads with Parc Guell and and the Sagrada Familia. They’re lovely, but it’s really just a fancy park and a very architectually unusual church. I’d much rather spend my days in Barcelona wandering around and eating tapas than going to the famous sites.

    Anyway, this has all been completely irrelevant to you now you’ve returned, but I have vastly enjoyed this brief trip down memory lane and I thank you for putting up with my self indulgent, nostalgic rant :)

  27. Alison

    Is that red bridge the Eiffel bridge in Girona? We are off to that gorgeous town in 3 weeks time to see our son. It’s a lot of hours on the plane from New Zealand. It we just can’t wait. Oh the sangria and cava!

    1. deb

      Yup! We were looking for the Jewish Quarter. Ended up at the cathedral whose location stood in for both King’s Landing and Bravos on season 6 of GoT. #nerd

  28. muswellmummy

    I’m an American living in the UK and we go to Mallorca with my husband’s family every summer – tomato bread is one of my favourite things! There’s a little roadside grill restaurant we go to where they grill long, flat brown pieces of bread over a wood fire and you have a plate of garlic and tomatoes with a bottle of olive oil to make your own. Divine! I’ve never tried to recreate it in London as our tomatoes are not great, unfortunately. (Someone once explained to me the lack of salt in the bread is to allow it to be a vehicle for the other flavours).

  29. Elizabeth

    Beautiful pictures. I’ve lived in Catalonia (first Barcelona, now Tarragona) since 1992 (I’m old!). My son was born here. When traveling with kids – hell, traveling in general – I personally think it’s best to avoid the “it’s Tuesday, this must be Lisbon” school of travel. It’s like eating. You can’t eat everything so savor what you eat. I would recommend looking into what are known here as casas rurales with kids. You’re in a village, not the big city. Doesn’t mean you can’t visit the big city, but the casa rural offers you a concentrated version of country life here, nature, and (very important) good food.

    Regarding pa amb tomàquet, it’s also used for sandwiches here. Sent my 16-year-old off on a school field trip to Santes Creus with his mid-morning snack: a sandwich made using baguette bread, tomato and olive oil, and Serrano ham. Catalans (and Spaniards too) distinguish between a sandwich made using a baguette-type loaf (un entrepà) and one made using sliced bread (un sandvitx). (Yes, that’s the spelling in Catalan and it is painful.) School kids regularly take an entrepà for snack. Lunch is a full meal – no sandwiches. Pa amb tomàquet is a great invention, no doubt about it. So versatile.

  30. You covered the recipe and the tradition perfectly. Just a comment from somebody who lives in Spain but not in Cataluña. From experience I would suggest that in the rest of Spain it is most commonly served with Jamón.

    If you are going to try it with Jamón, it must be cut very, very thin. Firstly it is easier to eat that way and, secondly, if you buy good Jamón it is expensive!!

    As you said, simple ingredient but delicious food. To anyone reading this I would therefore recommend that you go for the best, the best crusty bread, the ripest tomatoes and the best Jamón.

  31. Emma Curtis

    I woke up to find this in my inbox, so perfectly timed, as today we are setting off to Spain in our campervan. It really brought a smile to my face, looking forward to all the wonderfully simple food they do so well, and this is one of my favourites!

  32. Natalie

    Hi, We live in Aragon and pan con tomate can either be grated and then you mix all those lovely juices with some olive oil or just as you say, half a tomato rubbed onto the bread. I, personally prefer the former, feel like you get a bit more from those tasty tomatoes. I also use the same method to add tomato to sauce.

  33. GD

    I am almost speechless to find out you went to Spain and failed to see Sagrada Família. Oh my. You will never see anything like it. YOU MUST GO BACK!

  34. Judy

    my kids are 26 and almost 30, and what they remember from a California trip 21 years ago is riding the bus in San Francisco and people watching. the trip was worn every bead of sweat pulling it off

  35. Susie

    We went to the Costa Brava two summers ago with our kids. Was the best vacation we’ve ever taken and we can’t wait to go back Completely agree that vacations with kids need to have a pool or the beach or both. Otherwise, I find letting go of some rules on vacation means we all have a better time. We now have a saying in our family: “If you didn’t have ice cream twice each day, it probably wasn’t vacation”.

  36. Molly F. C.

    Deb, thank you for linking to the NYT article. Made me tear up. Six summers ago, when the children were 13, 11, and 5, we took them to Ireland. Next trip was to England and Wales. Ate lunch in a Welsh pub where we stayed on our honeymoon. Never when I was a young bride did I think that my husband and I would return with our future children. Kinda surreal. We’re coming to NYC next week for a college visit for my middle child. (restaurant recommendations?) Life zooms by. I’ll journey to as many places with my kids as my wallet will allow.

      1. JoyL

        Deb, I read that NYT article yesterday and I loved it! It’s exactly what we are trying to do with our kids. Also check out the book At Home in the World….. by Tsh Oxenreider. It’s non fiction about a family who sold their house and travelled the world with their young children. I think you’d enjoy it!

        Btw, Spain is on our list so your tips will be helpful!

  37. Oh, I love pa amb tomàquet! I tried making it this summer, while on holiday, but I didn’t toast the bread sufficiently and the tomatoes I used were so juicy that I ended up with a messy soggy slice of bread instead – not exactly what I was aiming for.
    I see your post as a sign that I probably need to try it again this weekend! :)

  38. This is the greatest treat of all time. I’ll never forget sipping coffee in the Boqueria and watched two construction workers sit down with coffee, bread and tomatoes they just bought at the one of the stalls. Quietly and methodically, they made pan con tomate and it was as though I witnessed a miracle.

  39. Laura Zinck

    Forty-five years ago I spent a year in South Africa as an exchange student. Oddly enough, this was my favorite lunch when I came home for lunch and yet I rarely eat it now. You’ve inspired me to return to an old favorite!

  40. Laura

    Read this post with tears in my eyes. We traveled to Spain this summer as well….my husband and I, along with our 3 kids (ages 8, 5, and 4). And I agree on everything you said about travel with kids. Do a lot, but not too much. And kids don’t have to keep you from traveling, if that is what you like to do. Also… churros. :)

  41. Nikki

    I made this last night using the traditional method. So good! Why haven’t I made this before? I travelled through Spain and loved this. Thank you for the reminder about this dead simple, utterly delicious recipe. I was wondering what to do with all of my tomatoes.

    It isn’t the most visually appealing dish. My husband eyed it suspiciously and then tried it and said ‘this is amazing’!

  42. Cheryl Lawrence

    I’m so glad you had the “child adjusted” vacation! My child is 41 years old now and unfortunately I’m 31 years older than he is, but before he was born(a definite surprise) I went whenever and wherever I wanted-I should say when I wasn’t working. Sometimes I husband went with me and sometimes there were “girl trips” or maybe My brother went with me. After awhile we also went on “child adjusted” vacations-only one child but we always managed to have a good time. Live and Learn. Now I don’t travel as well as I used to , but my son and my brother still travel a lot and I enjoy their pictures (especially the food)-my brother just just got back last week from Spain and Mykonos and my son has been all over the world. Not only do I get picture, etc. but it’s almost Mandatory to bring back some kind of souvenirs. Now I enjoy travel vicariously and I love it. So glad they still have a good time too. By the way, I’ve already pre-ordered your new cookbook-
    one for each of them-signed by you of course. I’ve made so many
    recipes over the years and I know they’ll want to do the same!

  43. Galia Ring

    A long time reader living in Barcelona – will be happy to suggest more places for when you get here next time, including activities that my nephews loved when visiting.
    The costa brava is indeed full of lovely little towns and one of my favorite is Tossa de Mar – it’s a beach town that has its own castle!

  44. JuliaKateLucy

    Glad you were able to have such a wonderful vacation, kids and all. We started torturing other plane passengers with our child quite early on. As they get older you will be delighted with the details they remember (beyond the pool) from these early vacations. My daughter remembers quite a bit about the trip we took to Germany for a wedding of some friends, including the castle with the swans where the reception was held and a wild animal park. Not surprising she doesn’t remember the tantrum she had on the last night when I cut her spaghetti and she wanted me to put it back together. Luckily, the traveling got much easier after that.
    This recipe sounds yummy. Too bad I have all the ingredients in the house, except for the bread.

  45. lucylewin

    We, too, just got back from a trip to Spain with our kids. Though British we’ve been in the US for nearly five years and have been craving all things Spanish recently (I have no idea why we can’t find good Spanish food in NYC!). Our trip to Valencia to see family and further south to the coast meant that we could gorge ourselves on paella, tortilla and pan con tomato. Plus all the jamon iberico and manchego we could find. It was probably our most successful family holiday to date; half a day at the beach or exploring a small town plus an afternoon by the pool was the key to our success. Next stop, I’m not sure!

  46. waywardbloggers

    The thought of no longer being able to freely travel is part of the reason we’ve decided to not have children (not the whole reason, but it definitely came into play!). Thank you for sharing your photos of Spain. We’re considering it for next summer’s Europe trip!

  47. TerriSue

    This looks wonderful. I do have one comment.. Do not save olive oil, no matter how expensive it may be. Olive oil does not age well like wine. The sooner you use it after it has been bottled the better. So many companies are now putting the harvest date on their bottles. Ignore any oil that doesn’t have one, no matter how wonderful you have heard about or expensive it is. Especially the expensive bottles might have been sitting on that shelf for years. If you have an expensive new harvest bottle, USE IT. Enjoy the taste it brings to all of your dishes.

  48. Lisa

    Does anybody have a recipe for Pan de cristal? (in English) I’ve scoured the internet over the past few years, and can only find ones in Spanish, and I’m fearful that my translations don’t “translate” properly! It’s such an airy, crisp, very specific bread. Would love to be able to duplicate it. :-)

  49. Bonnie

    Gaah! You made it to Bar Cañete! My favorite! Before we had our daughter, my husband and I would frequently jet off to Barcelona for the weekend (we live in Frankfurt)… You have me dreaming of doing it again…

  50. NicM

    I need to make this tomorrow! So simple but I’m sure delicious and my toddler will eat it (yay!). I’m glad traveling is working out for you. We’ve done two trips so far at 10 months and 21 months and both were a nightmare.

  51. Rezia

    What do you do with the tomato if you make it the first way? It seems, from the description, that you’d flavour the bread with tomato but you’d be left with a lot of unused tomato?

  52. Asneha Iqbal

    Thanks for posting this! I just got back from a two week trip to Spain and Portugal and it was food heaven :) We made tomato bread at a cooking class and I asked about the type of tomato we were using and the reply was “it’s a special local tomato, but not very expensive.” Somehow I don’t think they wanted to give up their secret :) I tried recreating our recipe with an heirloom tomato once I got home (with my new olive oil and flaky sea salt I brought back with me, of course) but I thought the tomato was a bit on the acidic side. I’ll have to see if I can try and track down a Campari tomato for next time. I found it so interesting that every restaurant where we tried tomato bread had its own spin on it and tasted delicious, though ever so slightly different than the last one. And I’m so glad you’re not ready for pumpkin spice either. I’m trying to stretch these last few bits of summer out as long as possible. Bring on the tomatoes :)

  53. Kathy D

    My sister, a few good friends, and I did a girl’s week in Provence for our 50th-ish birthdays years ago. We rented a house in a little town, and the owner (who lives here in the US) said to us, “Don’t try to see a lot of stuff. Just go and live the life.” We followed that advice and it was great. We ate, drank, went to the market, got our morning croissants at the bakery, etc. A great vacation, and a method that would work well with kids – as you discovered.

  54. I went to Madrid last February, and – yes – this was my favorite thing by far. But it was February. And the tomatoes definitely tasted like Winter tomatoes. … BUT… IT WAS STILL GOOD!

  55. Anna

    When I lived in France for a study abroad program, my significant other and I traveled a ton. Every trip was carefully constructed into museums and monuments and attractions. Except for Spain. When we went to Barcelona, we made no plans. We spent a whole day on the beach, ate whatever we felt like (lots of paella and patatas bravas and sangria), and did a lot of wandering around the streets. It was, absolutely, one of the best trips I’ve ever taken. It was so relaxing to simply enjoy the city rather than have a whole itinerary. One day in particular, we spent on the beach, drank adult beverages, and then we bought a watermelon on our walk home. While I swam in the pool at our hotel, my significant other (we are getting married in two weeks), chopped the melon and we ate it while we watched the sun set over the city. It’s one the sweetest memories I have from traveling. Don’t let people tell you what your vacation should be. As long as it was wonderful for you and your family, it was the perfect vacation.

  56. Patricia Huse

    Hi! For family oriented vacations that don’t cost too much, you could try a home swap (Guest to Guest is nice). Living in New York will give you a lot of chances!
    Have a good day

  57. Kristin

    So happy to see this post! We went to Catalonia 2 years ago, and every restaurant menu that I looked at in advance had ‘pan con tomate’ on the menu. I was so curious as to what it was, and was delighted on our first morning at the inn in the village of Marca, the owner brought us a cutting board with a garlic clove, a tomato, oil, and a basket of bread. ‘It’s typical, let me show you,’ she said, and I fell in love. It doesn’t taste quite as good when we make it at home, but brings back great memories. In fact I think I’ll make some right now . . .

  58. Yes, the pre-grated and heaped on version is what I ate for breakfast all throughout Andalusia! Strangely, I don’t remember pan con tomate from my jaunt in northern Spain last year, but that might also be because we’d already been introduced to it before, and therefore ordered other things off the menu. I’d totally forgotten about this (in part bc my husband hates tomatoes) and now I need to assemble the ingredients to make it at home. Bread being one of the 4 major food groups, of course, along with cheese, coffee, and fruit. (I suspect I was meant to be French, and there was a horrible mix up in the cosmos.)

  59. LJ

    Oh! I had no idea about this tomato bread in Spain. I need to go to there, it’s on my list. :) Also, the photos are lovely! Glad you had fun.

  60. Lara

    ah, these moments when you are pregnant and most food is revolting, and then you see a simple picture of bread and tomato and you go: yes! this is what I want for dinner! thanks for this moment today :) Lara

  61. Debbie C

    Ah Spain! I’d love to go some day. I laughed when you mentioned the pool, it truly is the highlight of the trip for the kids, no matter how epic the rest of the trip! Thanks for the Spain tips, I hope I can put them to use one day!

  62. Nicole

    Ah brings me back to the month I lived in Spain, and is a good reminder that things don’t have to be complicated if you want to just invite some friends over to enjoy drinks and tapas on the patio…

  63. Maureen D

    Thanks for that. The minute I saw the picture I was back in Barcelona. This reminds me that I have to make some and open up a bottle of Cava!

  64. Uh, pause for a minute, is that Jacob holding hands with a similarly-aged person of the opposite sex in the photo between the hostel de la granota and the incredible-looking cortado??! I refuse to admit he’s old enough for this, he’s still in diapers, he’s still in diapers!!

  65. Cristina

    The “less traditional” version is the more traditional way of eating it anywhere south of Catalunya. At bars in Madrid and Sevilla for example they toast your bread for you and have jars of grated tomato, bottles of olive oil and salt for you to make it how you like!

  66. So glad to see a post on a Catalan dish -especially this week! If you just got back from BCN you know that the region is going through a very important, very peaceful independence movement. My partner is Catalan, so I have eaten tons of pa amb tomate! The tomato they use is really key… you want all the tomato innards except the seeds and the skin to sink into the toast. I was so obsessed that once I brought back seeds from some tomates de penjar and grew them in my own garden! (All dead now – I haven’t had a garden since I moved to a new apartment)

  67. Dani

    Aw! We just took a very similar trip (with similar adjustments) to Spain with our 7-month old. I’ve loved your recipes for a long time and been doing a lot of cooking as we’ve been hunkered down at home more. Thanks for making it more fun!

  68. Carrie

    If – when – I gain weight this month, I’m blaming you! I’m on my fifth baguette/ciabatta and I’m obsessed with how seriously great this is. Thank you. I think.

  69. Yana

    We have moved to Costa Blanca (Alicante area) few years back, came here for holidays and fell in love with the place. Around here you can order bread, finely grated tomato and alioli for tapas, which you then assemble yourself, and it is an absolutely heavenly combination. Every time we go out for a meal, I have to restrain myself from eating just that only, it is so simple but oh so delicious!

  70. Gail

    I lived on this bread when I spent time in Barcelona in college. I also came back 15 pounds heavier. But omg. That and the “hot chocolate” which was really pretty close to hot barely liquid pudding in a big cup. gah. Missing Spain now. Great fotos!

  71. Ksenia

    This is surprisingly yummy in spite of husbandly scepticism! Just a warning though – my garlic cloves gave an unexpectedly harsh flavour when rubbed on the bread. Cooks might want to check the harsh-o-meter of their garlic ;) .

    This was delicious with cantaloupe salad and pork chops (from recipe: Spanish-style pork chops with new potatoes and olives).

  72. Marja

    Hola Guapa! Deb, it has been years now that I literally wait for your posts, and also have been cooking lots and lots of your recipes, and happy to say “always with success”! In 2001 I moved to Barcelona and have a villa with awesome sea view & pool only 10 min drive from Pals. (Yes, I know, I am very very lucky.) Couldn’t believe my eyes, that you have been with your family driving the same curvy roads, eating same specialties etc. as me ! Yes, this is a fascinating area with tons of interesting things to do – for all ages and tastes. Next time you come, please give a try to the sandy small beaches in Tamariu, Llafranch or Calella de Palafrugell – they all have great small restaurants of course. And Rocambolesc has a shop in Playa de Aro, too. By the way, did you try an ice-cream called “leche merengada” (cinnamon & lemon scented vanilla ice-cream)? Carry on Deb keeping your family and readers happy!

  73. Nikki

    I made the tomato bread tonight, used the Campari tomatoes grated on the box grater. At first, I thought hmmm, it’s ok, I have now gone back for my fourth piece of bread. It is delicious, I don’t know how to describe why it is so delicious, but it’s addictive. I severed it with the potato tortilla, which is a fav of mine, and the tomato salad that you had with the pri pri chicken or is it prie prie, regardless I love the chicken/potatoes/salad, always make it for a crowd. I’m going to Spain in December and have read through your post about Spain several times, and it goes without saying, looking forward to that tomato bread!

  74. Robyn

    Oh my goodness! I’m so glad you posted this, even though tomato season is sadly over. I also got home from Barcelona on Sep 13 and have been obsessed with tomato bread ever since! Unfortunately I never had a chance to make it at home this year, but next tomato season this recipe is first on my list!!

  75. Heather

    I have eaten this and it is so tasty. Unfortunately it is not tomato season. I have some frozen whole tomatoes from my garden. Obviously I couldn’t grate them, but would mushing or chopping them once thawed be similar?

    1. Marja

      Hola Heather from the Costa Brava, this is a quick and good method I learned from my Catalan friends (good cooks!): you just blitz your roughly cut tomatoes (without peeling them) with some salt and a good olive oil. Let it be somewhat coarse though. All you need then is good bread, and probably some cava (the Cataln sparkling wine = champagne).

      1. Heather

        Thanks! the good thing about the frozen is that the skins slip right off when they are thawed. If only I could get a good cava where I live!!

  76. Sarah

    Hi Deb! Loving your new recipes recently and second book! My husband and I recently returned from Spain and fell in love with the food, as well! I’ve been happily making my way through your Spanish recipes here on the site, and I’d love to get more in to Spanish cooking. I wondered if you have recommendations for Spanish cuisine cookbooks. Several years back you mentioned The New Spanish Table- is this still your go-to? Thanks!

  77. Anna

    You keep saying “Spanish”, but this is only Catalan. You’ll rarely find this in Spain, unless you ask for it, but you’ll have to specify “Catalan style bread” (spanish: “pan a la catalana”). If you ask bread with tomato, they may serve you some bread with sliced tomatoes.

    The bread doesn’t need to be toasted, it’s optional. The same for the garlic.

    And about the tomato puree, it’s only made in restaurants and bars where they need to hurry, but it’s not the traditional way of doing it.

    Finally, let me say that I’m Catalan, and we don’t like being compared to Spanish. In the touristic spots and souvenir shops you’ll find lots of spanish stuff, because that’s what the tourists want, but that’s not really Catalan (you’ll even find mexican hats).

    If you come again, let me know and I’ll tell you nice places to visit and where to eat.

  78. atteoj

    Made this last night to go with the tortilla as well as a bunch of other goodies purchased from Despaña (using a birthday gift certificate!). It was perfect.

    I was worried the garlic rubbing wouldn’t work or the bread would be soggy, but if you really toast it up nice and crunchy (I used the broiler, checking on it every minute, until it was just about to start burning) and rub the garlic right away it comes out perfect!

    It sat for a while after making because we got caught up in conversation and I was a little worried it would then be cold and soggy, but because it had been toasted so well it was still quite crunchy with a yummy moist top!

  79. Deena Salvatore

    Hi Deb! I can’t believe you wrote a post on “tomato bread”! We spent almost a month in europe last year (ahem, our boys are now in their 30s 😉) and our first stop was Barcelona ❤️. Oh my gosh, is Barcelona the best or what?! Anyway, we discovered tomato bread during our very first dinner there. I even took a video of our waitress preparing it for us table side. By the time we hit Greece weeks later, we had eaten tomato bread on the French riviera, the Italian riviera and in Greece. We’re having lobster tails for dinner tonight and after reading this, tomato bread has now been added to the menu! Did you visit La Boquería? Oh my gosh, we had breakfast there one morning and we ordered about a dozen different dishes. We wanted to eat EVERYTHING! I have pictures of it all. Yes, I’m one of those annoying people who must take pictures of their food, lol! Thanks Deb!

  80. Deb: Thanks for the memories.This tomato bread Pane and pomodoro, is exactly what my Italian mother made when I was a child for quick snacks when we had stale bread : pristine, simple, and the fragrance of the fresh basil and Italian plum tomatoes from our garden would cause swooning in our kitchen. The secret to this delicacy is the dense and high quality of the bread which in those days was a staple. Grazie Ciao Bella

  81. Alexis

    I stumbled across this post when i was googling ‘tomato bread’ (although I’ve been reading your blog for years :-) ) We travelled in Spain with our 2 kids 4 years ago (they were 7 and 9 at the time) and had a wonderful time. One of our best memories of Spain was tomato bread in Barcelona (and our (now) 11 year old taught herself how to make the bruschetta version) We just made another round with farmers’ market tomatoes and it really is bliss (husband made the traditional catalan version and the younger kid made her own….). I just wanted to say that reading this post brought back wonderful memories of our own vacation!

  82. Sam H

    Has anyone found catalan hanging tomato seeds in the US? I’m trying to find a way to order them so I can grow them myself, but no luck so far. Any help would be greatly appreciated! :)

  83. You gotta love Barcelona architecture and food. These tomato breads are so simple and yummy (also the Italians make a delicious tomato bread). I have tried to replicate it at home a few times with some herbs but it never tastes as good. I have never tried rubbing the tomato on the bread though.

  84. Jill

    *sigh* This made me happy. Soooo many good memories! I’m glad you took the kiddles with you to Barcelona.
    Now I must plan a Catalan dinner with my peeps, and fill the belly with yummy goodness.

  85. Aurora Gandara

    My niece just got back from Spain and she was talking about how tomato bread was everywhere.
    Looks like a trip to the bakery tomorrow for ciabatta

  86. Alexa

    As a tomato fiend I go one step further and as a final step I add thin slices of colorful heirloom tomatoes sprinkled with sea salt. Not traditional but delicious

  87. I often make this using the box grater method. One thing I’ve found helpful is to grate the tomato into a mesh colander then shake it a bit to let some of the juice drain out — I like the slightly thicker consistency.

  88. Brittany

    Can this be altered to accommodate cherry tomatoes? We have a huge late summer crop and trying to find alllllll the recipes to use them up.

  89. Becky TenEyck

    Heartache. Tostada con tomate as it’s called in Sevilla is just too delicious. The grated version you describe here is just as we had it at the little cafe at our language school (CLIC!) during our 10:50 a.m. break along with a good strong cafe con leche. Thank you Pablo! We were in Spain from Jan – April, 2020 for a sabbatical with our kids. 6 weeks of that was in lock down and we came home 2 months early. I just did some long overdue greaving when I saw this post. Thank you. It was cathartic. And once we have decent tomatoes again, we’ll be making this!

  90. MartaA

    Hi Deb! Commenting late, just getting to this post, but in your post about favorite places in Spain, you mentioned not being able to make it to Figueres to the Dalí museum. If you do go, you MUST go to Ampurdan, a great restaurant in town. It’s in a two star hotel but rather fancy inside and the food is amazing.

  91. This is the simplest, most delicious breakfast ever and the best part is that anyone can do in at home. In Valencia, we grate the tomatoes so it’s less wasteful. Plus it’s easier to make. We also use huge Valencian tomatoes which are perfect for this as they have super thin skin and are tastier. Mixed with extra virgin olive oil, this is downright addictive :)