Tom’s Kitchen: the Simplest, and Best, Tomato Snack

Add olive oil and sea salt, and you've got the elements of perhaps the greatest of all tomato snacks. Tom Philpott/crappy iPhone camera

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In Les Blank’s Garlic Is As Good As Ten Mothers (1980)—maybe the greatest food documentary ever—Blank gets the celebrated flamenco guitarist Anzonini del Puerto to describe the importance of garlic in his native Spain.

Del Puerto responds (video clip below) that there was very little to eat at the end of the Spanish Civil War; very little, that is, except garlic, tomatoes, and “muy, muy poco” (a very, very little) bread. They would often combine these ingredients into a simple sandwich of sliced tomatoes, sliced garlic, salt and olive oil. He goes on to demonstrate.

Over the past few years during tomato season at Maverick Farms, I’ve become addicted to the Catalan variation of Spain’s tomato sandwich, an open-faced version that’s even simpler than del Puerto’s. I suggest cranking out a few of these with flamenco music thundering in the background, such as the song del Puerto belts out after his sandwich demo in the below video.

This recipe makes a fabulous snack before a light summer dinner; or anytime you come in from the heat during the tomato season. What to drink with it? You can’t go wrong with a dry, well-chilled rosé.

Catalan-Style Tomato Bread

A loaf of good, crusty bread (I’ve been making my own using the no-knead method popularized by Mark Bittman a few years ago)
A clove of garlic, crushed and peeled
The best, juiciest tomato you can get your hands on
Extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Slice off a piece of bread about a half-inch thick and toast it lightly. A toaster works; for extra brilliance, toast it over a hot grill, taking care it doesn’t burn. Now take the crushed garlic clove and rub it all over the bread’s surface. If the bread is properly toasted and crispy, it will pick up highly flavorful juice and particles from the garlic. Now slice the stem top off of the tomato and vigorously rub the cut side against the bread. The bread will absorb juice and particles from the tomato, becoming quite soggy. Now give it a drizzle of olive oil, and sprinkle it liberally with salt and pepper. Serve immediately. Repeat as necessary. Prepare for addiction. After a while of cranking these treats out, you’ll be holding a a ravaged swath of empty tomato skin in your hand. Time to cut open another.

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