Is any meal in Barcelona complete without a slice or two of bread with tomato? Most restaurants will ask you if you’d like some to keep you going until your meal arrives.
Pa amb tomàquet is basically sliced baguette topped with a tomato mixture, drizzled with olive oil and seasoned with a pinch of salt. Garlic is sometimes rubbed into the bread before the tomato mixture goes on top.
If you dine in a restaurant serving traditional Catalan dishes, you’ll find the tomatoes and garlic cloves waiting for you in a basket on your table next to the oil and salt. The freshly toasted bread will be served warm. However, the dish usually comes prepared for you in Barcelona, where they also skip the garlic as a rule.
Here, it’s usually eaten as a snack or starter, but some people even serve it up for breakfast…! It can be topped with ham, sausage, cheese, anchovies or grilled vegetables known as escalivada.
Pa amb tomàquet is a Mediterranean dish inspired by the classic pairing of bread and oil. It’s very similar to Italian bruschetta. And it’s not the only way of eating bread in Catalonia by a long shot. Try topping it with wine and sugar or melted chocolate, salt and oil instead. OK, those combinations might sound like an acquired taste but trust us when we say they’re delicious!
If you fancy whipping up some bread with tomatoes for yourself, make sure you use hanging tomatoes or tomàquets per penjar. They taste divine in this dish!
In Catalonia, they tend to use pa amb tomàquet as the base for their sandwiches (“bocadillos”) rather than the classic combination of bread and butter. That insider info should stop you getting a shock when you bite into your first sandwich in the city!