Pa amb tomaquet

Pa amb tomaquet (translated means bread with tomato) is a classic Catalan preparation which consists of scraping a cut side of tomato along a slice of toasted or untoasted, coarse, county bread and then sprinkled with olive oil and coarse salt. Sometimes the raw components are pre-combined and then brushed on the toasted bread. This is probably a precursor to Italian Bruschetta. Fresh, and alive with flavor, this dish is a perfect beginning to a summer’s meal.

(Catalan bread with tomato spread)

1 loaf dense country bread or 2 inch wide country baguette
1 large clove garlic, cut in half lengthwise
3 medium red tomatoes, about 1 pound
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon sugar
½ teaspoon red wine or sherry vinegar
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup lightly packed whole basil leaves
1. Pre-heat the oven to 400F.

2. Slice the bread or baguette into ½ inch slices. Rub the cut side of the garlic over the bread slices and place them on a large cookie sheet. Bake the bread slices until golden and crisp—6 or 7 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside.

3. Cut tomatoes in half crosswise. Remove the seeds by slightly squeezing the tomato cut side down over a sink.

4. Using a coarse hand grater, grate the tomatoes over a 1 quart bowl. Discard the skins.

5. Add the salt and pepper, sugar and vinegar to the tomato pulp. Stir in the olive oil.

6. Stack the basil leaves and then roll them into a tight cigar. Finely slice the roll crosswise and then add the basil strips to the tomato mixture and stir well to combine. Refrigerate until ready to use.

7. When ready to serve spread some of the tomato mixture over the bread slices and serve sprinkled with a little coarse sea salt on top.

Note: A small piece of cheese can be placed on top or drizzle a little bit of oil on top of the mixture before the salt.

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