Since most of us are still in a heat wave that doesn't seem to be lifting anytime soon; simple, fresh and refreshing suppers are the name of the game. I really turn to a small tapas style menu during the summer months and my go-to combination is Pan con Tomate (Spanish style tomato bread) served with Castelvetrano green olives with a bit of a twist and Cava frosted green grapes.
Pan con Tomate is the Spanish cousin to Italian Bruschetta and is truly the simplest of dishes where good quality ingredients shine, especially during peak tomato season.
Essentially, garlic cloves are rubbed along the grooves of sliced toasted ciabatta bread covered in plenty of olive oil and then topped with a tomato mixture made from freshly grated tomatoes, flaky sea salt, diced garlic and a splash of Sherry Wine Vinegar. Some classical Spanish variations include fresh oregano or sliced anchovies on top.
Slice ciabatta and place on a sheet pan and coat well with really good olive. Put it under the broiler for a few minutes until the bread is golden in color.
Take a few garlic cloves and run them over each piece of bread. The grooves will literally shred the garlic directly onto the bread and the flavor instantly absorbs while the bread is still warm.
Next, take 2 large heirloom tomatoes and grate them into a bowl with a box grater. I have read several versions where people then strain the tomatoes for a heartier spread but I skip that part and just pour everything straight onto the bread because I think the liquid seeps in further giving it more flavor.
Add a tablespoon or so of Sherry Wine Vinegar, several pinches of flaky sea salt, and 2 cloves of minced garlic to the tomato and mix it really well.
Spoon it on the bread and that is literally it!
I think the grapes and olives are the perfect sweet and savory accompaniment to the toast. The olive trick is something I actually copied from a restaurant that would serve these amazing olives as a starter and it is a great quick entertaining tip to elevate a snack plate or cheeseboard.
Zest an orange into a bowl of olives and then mix it together and microwave until warm for about 45 seconds.
For the frosted grapes, place green grapes in a bowl and pour a few splash of Cava (or Prosecco) to cover them and put the bowl in the freezer. The idea is to frost them and not freeze them so keep an eye- usually 20 is good, so making the grapes before the toast is a good idea.
On this particular night, after the tapas, I made a quick burrata and melon plate that is the best summer dinner.
I paired Prosciutto di Parma with burrata, fresh basil, olive oil and salt and pepper.
For the melon portion, I sliced up cantaloupe and topped it off with chili flakes, a drizzle of honey and fresh mint.
I love this type of meal because there are so many variations to make and it always pairs perfectly with a chilled glass of wine.
For quick reference, here is the recipe I use for Pan con Tomate:
1 Loaf of Rustic Ciabatta Bread
2 Large Heirloom Tomatoes
3 Whole Garlic Cloves
1 Tablespoon of Sherry Vinegar
Several Pinches of Flaky Sea Salt
2-3 Garlic Cloves, Minced
Good Olive Oil
Turn Oven to Broil
Slice bread and place pieces on sheet pan and drizzle with olive oil until covered
Broil until golden, about 3 minutes
Take bread out of oven and run a garlic clove over each piece "grating" the garlic with the grooves of the bread
With a box grater, grate tomatoes over a bowl
Add in Sherry Vinegar, Salt, and Minced Garlic and stir until well combined
Spoon mixture onto toasts and enjoy