An overripe tomato is a food gem. Don’t believe me? Take it from chef Greg Vernick, who once told Bon Appétit, “as ugly as an overripe tomato looks, sometimes it yields the most juice and the most sweetness.” Mushy tomatoes are too good to waste (and there’s no need to throw away your hard-earned money) — instead, use them to make tomato toast for a quick and simple snack.
A Tale of Tomato Toast
The TikTok hashtag “tomato toast” has been racking up billions of views. This delicious snack comes in many forms; one variation involves placing sliced tomatoes on toast smeared with cream cheese. Fresh basil is another common tomato toast topping, since the herb’s anise flavor complements the fruit’s sweetness.
Tomato toast is also a mainstay in cuisines overseas. Chef Tamar Romero Marino says that pan con tomate (Spanish for “bread with tomato”) originated in northern Spain. She adds that pan con tomate is typically eaten as a light side dish in the Catalonia region. “But down south in Andalusia, where I discovered it while working as an English teacher in the city of Cadiz, it’s more often eaten in the morning, and it’s a hearty and luscious food,” she writes in Saveur. “When I make pan con tomate Andalusian-style, I use the largest holes on a box grater to get at the juicy meat of a beefsteak tomato, discarding most of its skin as I go. I rub pieces of toasted baguette with a clove of garlic and drizzle them with olive oil, and I spoon the sweet grated tomato [from a bowl] onto the bread and sprinkle sea salt over the top.”
In Italy, tomato bruschetta is a popular appetizer. This dish similarly consists of tomatoes and herbs spooned over bread, rubbed with garlic, and drizzled with olive oil. Some bruschetta recipes even call for adding balsamic vinegar for a hint of tanginess. From bruschetta to pan con tomate, overripe tomatoes served over toasted bread is clearly a match made in flavor heaven.
Making Tomato Toast At Home
As a Garden State native, I’m lucky to have Jersey tomatoes at my disposal. So, I made chef Marino’s pan con tomate with a mature, plump tomato — using sourdough bread instead of a baguette. Love at first bite may sound like a stretch, but it’s true. The crispy, garlic-scented toast perfectly balanced the mild-flavored tomato flesh.
Aside from how good it tasted, my favorite thing about this dish was that it didn’t require a formal recipe. Chef Marino’s steps helped me whip up two slices of pan con tomate easily, and it’ll now be one of my go-to snacks. Ultimately, this shows that simplicity is often best — especially in the case of deeply-ripened tomatoes.