Recipe: Pan con tomate

Tomato bread by Charlotte Smith-Jarvis. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Tomato bread by Charlotte Smith-Jarvis. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN - Credit: Archant

Use up the last of those summer tomatoes in this easy classic Spanish tapas dish.

A week before I set off to Madrid in early June, my dad stopped me as we passed in the street. 'Somebody's going to Spain at the hottest time of the year. Somebody should have gone to Prague instead!'

Imagine that said with a large dose of sarcasm and a tutting finger.

'Ah, we'll be totally fine,' I laughed. 'It was 43C in Seville when we went and that was a breeze.'

Seven days later, sweat dripping unelegantly from my carefully chosen off-the-shoulder summer dress, dragging my overpacked case from the subway through Retiro Park, the sun roasting my back like a side of pork, I hated to admit he might have been right.

After a 3am wake up call, very little sleep and hardly any food, my girlfriends and I found ourselves in Plaza Mayor looking every bit the stereotypical English tourists. We needed sangria and snacks or I'm pretty sure we'd have melted.

Happening upon a little bar, the saviour of our day was a plate of olive oil basted bread, kissed by a smear of garlic, and smothered in freshly crushed tomatoes. Sweet, spicy and perfectly formed, this typical tapas dish is the simplest, but by far the best.

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We ate it every day while we were away. It came as above. Sometimes cloaked by a sheet of almost purple, salty ham. Sometimes covered in chopped tomatoes. Others simply dipped in the fruit's juices.

Here is my jazzed up version, which, to me, is the essence of Spain on a plate – but made with good quality East Anglian ingredients. I used chorizo and ham from Lane Farm in Suffolk and bread from Ipswich's Anchor Bakery, but in Norfolk I'd recommend going for cured meat from Marsh Pig.

Gourmet pan con tomate

(serves 4 as a snack)

Ingredients

4 thick slices bloomer bread, 100g local cherry tomatoes, pinch sugar, 2 slices local ham shredded, 2 cloves garlic halved

For the dressing: 50g Suffolk chorizo diced finely, 3tbsps rapeseed oil, 3tbsps olive oil, 1 large egg yolk, 1tsp lemon juice, seasoning, oil for frying

Method

Make the dressing first. Fry the chorizo in a pan until crispy. Allow to cool. Whisk the egg yolk with the oils, adding them drop by drop until you have a golden emulsion. Squeeze in the lemon juice. Season and stir in the chorizo. Set aside.

Brush the bread with oil on each side and griddle or toast until golden.

Blitz the tomatoes in a food processor with a pinch of sugar. Season. Place on a plate.

Rub the garlic over one side of each piece of bread. Dip into the tomato juices. Rip over some ham and then finish with a drizzle of the dressing and maybe some parsley. Enjoy with a glass of cold albarino.

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