Pan con tomate is bread, tomato, olive oil, salt and nothing else, so it’s important to get the best of each. Zabala buys pan de cristal from a purveyor in Spain because the outside gets really crunchy while the inside stays a little soft. Ciabatta results in a similar texture and is widely available here. For the tomatoes, Zabala prefers heirloom Cherokee Purples, but any really ripe, flavorful tomatoes will work. This is a dish where using the highest-quality extra-virgin olive oil makes a difference. Zabala likes Marques de Valdueza, which you can buy online, or any other good Spanish Arbequina oil with fruity notes.
Preheat a broiler.
Put the whole bread on a baking sheet and broil, turning once, just until crunchy on the outside, one to two minutes. Transfer to a cutting board. When cool enough to handle, use a bread knife to slice the bread in half as if for a sandwich. Return to the pan, cut sides up and toast until golden and crisp, one to two minutes.
Cut the tomato in half through its equator (not from top to bottom). Gently rub the cut side of the tomatoes against the cut sides of the toasted bread to evenly coat the surface with a thin layer of tomato juice and pulp.
Generously drizzle olive oil all over the tomato-coated side of the bread and tilt to let the oil run into the craters of the toast. Sprinkle with salt, slice into smaller pieces and serve immediately.
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