August means time for tomatoes. And my birthday. I like how those line up.
Last year I celebrated my 30th with a tapas party. This year? I’m still figuring that out. But in the meantime, my kitchen continues to turn out homemade tapas.
I have little to do with it; these things are so simple to make, they practically assemble themselves.
Take Pan Catalan. Otherwise known as pan con tomate or pan a la Catalana. This spectacularly easy-to-prepare appetizer combines two of my favorite things: tomatoes and bread. (Not that the other ingredients, garlic and olive oil, aren’t favorites, too…)
I always, always have tomatoes, olive oil, and garlic on hand. And since my girlfriend’s new weekend routine is to knead and toss three homemade baguettes in the oven, we usually have those, too.
Eventually my girlfriend is going to write a guest blog post about her homemade baguettes. I’m impatient, though, so first I’m going to tell you what to do with them.*
Though this recipe only calls for one tiny little tomato, it is still all about the essence of tomatoes (and the flavors of their sweet juices and seeds mingling with the fresh garlic and warm olive oil and bread).
Which reminds me… Last week, July 24th, was designated as Tomato Tuesday, a virtual Food Bloggers for Slave-Free Tomatoes event.
The impetus behind Tomato Tuesday was the Recipe for Change Campaign for Slave-Free Tomatoes. According to the Recipe for Change site, “in the past 15 years, over 1,000 people have been freed from slavery in Florida’s tomato fields.” A coalition of tomato pickers have developed the Fair Food Program, which “establishes a zero tolerance policy for slavery, child labor, and serious sexual harassment on Florida’s tomato farms.”
Although stores like Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods have already joined the Fair Food Program, many major grocery store chains have not yet pledged to do the same.
You can help! Send a message asking major U.S. supermarket chains to join the Fair Food Program and stock slave-free tomatoes. It’s as simple as filling in your name and address.
Not having time to stay caught up on everyone else’s wonderful food blogs, I somehow missed this slave-free tomato awareness event last Tuesday, but just happened to post about the flavor superiority of non-supermarket tomatoes, anyway. When I learned about Food Bloggers for Slave-Free Tomatoes, I felt sorry to have missed the chance to join in and spread the word. But better late than never!
So please make an effort to buy local tomatoes from CSA shares and farmer’s markets, grow your own tomatoes, or buy them from stores that have committed to the Fair Food Program, like Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s.
And meanwhile, choose one ripe (and slave-free) tomato to make yourself some Pan Catalan. I spent countless pesetas, in Spain’s pre-euro days, on this Catalonian appetizer that consists of toasted bread rubbed with fresh tomato and garlic.
Just one bite can transport me back to Barcelona. It’s no wonder this keeps showing up on my table.
* … besides making super delicious baguette French toast, which tastes even better once the loaves have become slightly stale.
Print this recipe.
(Serves 4 as an appetizer)
~ 12-16 slices of baguette, or some other nice bread
~ 1 small tomato
~ 1 clove of garlic
~ generous drizzling of olive oil
~ salt, to taste
How to make it:
1. Very lightly grill or toast the bread. (I like to brush the slices with a bit of olive oil before doing this, especially if I’m grilling it, but this extra olive oil can be skipped.)
2. Once toasted, lightly rub (or “grate”) the garlic clove over the top of each slice of bread. I often cut the clove in half first just to provide an easier grip on it. (And as you can see, I only grated away about ¼ of a clove for 6 slices of bread: enough to be piquant but not overwhelmingly garlicky.)
3. Cut the tomato in half horizontally, and rub the tomato juices across the tops of the bread slices, aiming for enough tomato flavor, but without making the toast soggy.
4. Drizzle over some olive oil and sprinkle with salt.
5. Serve warm. Preferably with sangria.
Print this recipe!
Related recipe posts:
> Tapas Party: Sangria, Queso de Cabra, and Papas Bravas
> Homemade Mayonnaise and Garlic Aioli
> Gazpacho Soup