Sunday, June 24, 2012

Simple Breakfast: Pan con tomate or tomato bread

My tomato bread breakfast in Barcelona or Burgos

“Never go out in the morning without having eaten something.” My Mom used to say this and now I live by this credo of common sense. Thanks, Mom, for the habit of eating breakfast that helps me avoid the blood sugar and brain first aid kit of energy snacks.
I recently attended an Awards dinner where the company recognises the outstanding achievements in Making a Difference for people either within the company or in their communities. My colleagues from the UK won an award for establishing a charity that supports breakfasts for children in their community. A lot of children didn’t eat breakfast and were behaving badly at school, they were not paying attention and their learning suffered. Not only did their own results suffer, they also disturbed their classmates. A proper breakfast changed that. 

Roma tomatoes (the bigger ones) and date tomatoes (the small oval), cherry (the small round ones)

It is summer time in Europe and depending on where you live the tomatoes either are or will become ripe soon. My best holiday morning in Estonia would be to wonder around in the glasshouse and pick a few warm tomatoes (thanks, Dad, for all the hard work), smell the tomato leaves on the fingers and make a nice tomato sandwich with rye bread, butter and tomato with salt and pepper for breakfast. We call it “tomativõileib” or “tomato butter bread”. Like that…

Tomativõileib - tomato bread in Estonia

In Catalunya and Spain my favourite breakfast is equally tomato bread or “pa amb tomaquet”, “pan con tomate “. Tomato, olive oil, bread, that’s it basically. At home I use varieties with fewer seeds like Marzano or Roma.
A bit of fat is good with tomato. It helps the body to make use of the vitamin A from the tomatoes.

4 tomatoes
Pinch of sea salt
0.5 tsp sugar
Black pepper
3-4 tbsp olive oil

Take the skins off by cutting crosses into the top and bottom of the tomatoes, placing them into a bowl of hot water for a minute or two. Then drain the hot water and peel the skins off.

Grate the tomatoes on the side with the largest holes.
Season with salt, sugar, freshly ground pepper and olive oil.

Pa amb tomaquet in Catalan or Pan con tomate in Spanish

Serve with toasted bread. I prefer thicker more robust slices of bread to the regular toast. The slices of bread can be toasted in the oven or in the toaster.

A question on my mind: why is the tomato often very pale in the hotels in Spain where I have eaten pan con tomate? Is it because the less ripe, 2nd class tomatoes are crushed for this dish or is there a special paler flesh variety they use?

Enjoy your breakfast, the most important meal of the day!