This recipe is not complicated, but it is devastatingly delicious.
I have written about my love for pan con tomate, that Catalan specialty of toasted bread, a garlic clove, and tomatoes. When I ate it at Jaleo, the addition of nutty manchego cheese added an entirely new element to the dish, and I knew I couldn’t wait long to make it at home.
This dish is extremely simple, so it requires the best possible ingredients. The best, most sour bread. The juiciest tomato. Aged manchego, which is mild, buttery, and similar to gouda. Don’t skimp on anything here. Right now, heirloom tomatoes are appearing in the farmers markets, and these juicy, sweet tomatoes are the best bet for your pan con tomate. You really want one that is just 10 minutes from going bad. It should be tender to the touch and heavy for its size, ready to burst with liquid.
I am not going to say that’s what she said…
Pan con Tomate y Manchego
4 slices peasant bread, toasted very crisp
1 large tomato, cut in half
1 clove garlic, peeled but not smashed
4 thin slices Manchego cheese (or a pile of thin Manchefo pieces. That’s what I used.)
When I say serve, what I mean is eat. This is a portion size for one person. I don’t care how big the pieces of bread are or how many slices of pizza you have eaten before this meal. It is impossible to stop eating this. The bread remains crusty on the bottom, but the top layers become delightfully spongy, saturated with sweet, tomatoey juices. The garlicky taste is very slight, but adds a bright, hot note to the dish. And the Mangecho is the final touch. It adds salt and fat to the dish, almost melting into the still warm toast. This is elegant enough to serve at a cocktail party but hearty enough to serve as a meal, with a side salad or soup.
It also goes great with a good salami, but, then, what doesn’t?
Now I will say it…
That’s what she said.