Saturday, August 13, 2011

You say tomato I say tomate

©John Houser III 2011

Summer is in full bloom and the tomatoes are attacking. They are ubiquitous right now from the farmer's markets to family-owned road side stands. Around this time of year I constantly get bombarded with questions about what to do with the 30 quarts of tomatoes that someone has just bought. The first answer is always "just make sauce and jar it" and then I get the look. You know the one. The "no shit dude, of course I'm making sauce. Why else would I have bought 197 pounds of tomatoes?" look. What my tomato laden friends mean to ask is "Look shitbird, if I have to eat one more bowl of pasta, I'm gonna open a vein!! Help!?"

So it is with this in mind that I will give you a culinary life raft. This recipe takes less that ten minutes to make and will become a go-to recipe in your arsenal of summer dishes. As a side or a snack it never ceases to please. It also is a recipe that the sum of its parts are greater than just the few ingredients in it. The higher quality of tomato or olive oil, the better the dish will be as a whole. When people ask me about this recipe they seem to think that its complicated. This couldn't be farther from the truth. This dish is dead simple and really doesn't require much cooking.

It's called Pan Con Tomate and unsurprisingly, when translated, it means bread with tomato. It is my favorite tomato recipe and I make it year round. This time of the year though is especially great for making pan con tomate because the variety of tomatoes to choose from is so wonderfully diverse. I've made this recipe with red tomatoes, green tomatoes, white tomatoes (yes there are!), numerous heirloom varieties and a mixture of all of the above.

I had eaten versions of this recipe before, but it wasn't until I spent two weeks in Spain last year that I really became obsessed with the stuff. In Barcelona, where we spent most of our time, they serve it to you with every meal. Like the basket of bread you get here in America, pan con tomate comes out at the beginning of the meal as a complimentary appetizer, a saucy welcome mat if you will.

Before we start let it be noted that this is a base recipe. Try it this way once and then feel free to improvise. Herbs, fruit and spices all can be added to enhance and change this dish, but this is the mothership recipe. Like I said, just try this once this way first. You might never want to try it another way. It's beauty in simplicity.

So lets get in to it shall we????

Pan Con Tomate
©John Houser III 2011