In general the Spanish don’t eat a big breakfast. Coffee and some toast or pastry, maybe churros and chocolate if it’s the weekend or they’re on vacation. The cafes along the Camino have adjusted to the needs of peregrinos who prefer a heavier breakfast, thankfully — there are days when you really want eggs and bacon. Other days you might be happy with something lighter, like pan con tomate which is a popular breakfast all over Spain.
If the menu says tomate natural you will get plain, grated tomato. There’s nothing wrong with that. I like the heartier style with onions and parsley (sometimes called tumaca). Not only is it great on toast it’s also a tasty condiment to use on sandwiches and crackers, added to soups or turned into salad dressing. You can also dip tortilla chips into it. There’s a lot to love about it.
The simplest way to make the plain version of the sauce is to cut a tomato in half, squeeze out the bulk of the seeds and rub it onto a piece of toast until it becomes pulp. Other people grate it on a box grater that’s been placed into a large bowl to catch the fruit.
Even simpler is to use a stick blender or food processor. You can peel the tomatoes or not according to your personal taste. Lately we’ve been using large meaty tomatoes with a thick skin. I prefer to peel those.
- 1 large tomato (larger than a fist), peeled, seeded, cored and roughly chopped
- ½ medium onion, chopped (about ¼ cup)
- a palmful of parsley leaves and stems
- salt and pepper to taste
- olive oil for serving
- toasted bread
- Place the chopped onions and tomatoes in a food processor. Pulse a few times to chop them finely.
- Add the parsley and pulse some more until very fine.
- Salt and pepper to taste.
- To serve, drizzle some olive oil onto toasted bread and spoon some of the tomato on top. Add more salt as desired.
You will have leftover tumaca. If there’s a lot of liquid you can strain it before storing it in the fridge for up to a week.
When you order pan con tomate in a cafe you will be served a small bowl of tomato with a container of olive oil and salt on the side. When the tomatoes aren’t nice or out of season the cafe owners will make their tumaca from canned tomatoes that have already been peeled. Feel free to do the same if you have a winter craving for this tasty breakfast.