Pan con tomate is summer in a bite

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As the heat continues to be oppressive, I look for dishes that require little or no cooking and are easy to prepare. Tapas, those little bites you can find at bars all over Spain, come to mind.

Pan con tomate is summer in a bite. For these tomato toasts, you’ll need good-quality extra-virgin olive oil, chewy bread, a couple of ripe beefsteak tomatoes, sea salt and my secret ingredient: white anchovies. I prefer the white anchovy to the saltier canned anchovies. You can find them in the refrigerated section at your gourmet store or well-stocked grocery store. They add just the right complementary touch to the tomato-garlic flavor.

This no-cook app is Seriously Simple to put together. You can broil, toast or grill the bread, depending upon your preference. I love the rustic touch of fresh, aromatic garlic smeared over the crisp toasts. Some recipes call for just the tomato pulp spooned on top of toasted bread. Others like to strain the pulp and use the juice to infuse the bread; then the remaining pulp is spread on top. Some also add seasonings and oil to the tomato pulp. My version of these tasty summer morsels includes a finishing dab of garlic mayonnaise to tie all the flavors together

These toasts certainly are a good way for using up bread and very ripe tomatoes. I’ve had fun trying different tomato varieties and using different breads, such as a baguette. I’ve served these as a snack in the later afternoon and as an opener to a barbecue. They’re also lovely with a bowl of chilled soup. A chilled bottle of rose to accompany these toasts is my preference. Remember, this is a template for you to use; feel free to put your own signature on this dish.

Tomato Toasts (Pan Con Tomate)

Serves 8 as an appetizer

1 clove garlic, minced

1/4 cup mayonnaise

1 ciabatta loaf

Extra-virgin olive oil

2 large ripe beefsteak tomatoes, halved to make 4 halves

Salt

Pepper

2 medium cloves garlic, split in half

White anchovies

Sea salt

1 tablespoon chopped Italian parsley

1. Combine the garlic and mayonnaise in a small bowl and mix to combine. Reserve.

2. Split ciabatta in half horizontally lengthwise, and then cut crosswise into 1 1/2-inch slices. Lay them flat on a baking sheet. Lightly sprinkle olive oil over the bread slices.

3. Place a box grater using the large holes in a medium bowl. Grate the flat side of each tomato half into the bowl. Discard the skin of each half. You will have tomato pulp with the seeds. Season with salt and pepper. Reserve.

4. Preheat the broiler to broil. Broil the bread slices for about 3 minutes or until they are nicely browned. (You can also toast or grill the bread.) Remove from the oven and rub the garlic halves on each bread slice.

5. Spoon some of the tomato pulp on each slice of bread, pushing it down so it infuses into the bread.

6. Cut each anchovy in half. Place the anchovy crisscrossed on top of the bread. Spoon a tiny dollop of garlic mayonnaise on top. Garnish with a sprinkling of sea salt and parsley. Transfer the toasts to a large platter, and serve.

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