The bright, beautiful tomato comes in dozens of shapes, colours, and flavours — it’s an iconic fruit (yes, fruit!) that’s used throughout the world as the cornerstone of some of the planet’s most delicious dishes. Here, we take a look at three of Europe’s most famous tomato recipes — and where you can find them.
The dish: We’d be remiss to not point out that the tomato is iconic to Italian cuisine — the plump red fruit is practically the country’s national emblem. But we’d like to take a closer look at one of the most iconic Italian dishes: pizza. Depending on where you are in this Mediterranean country, pizza means something profoundly different. In Naples, Neopolitan pizza is thin-crusted and wood-fired. In Rome, pizza by the slice is thick and cut in squares, with a base that resembles fluffy focaccia bread. In Sicily, you’ll find sfincione, which also has a focaccia-like crust, and whose toppings are often placed underneath the crust. No matter the region, though, one thing about pizza remains the same: it’s made with the best quality tomatoes. (Except, of course, pizza bianca, but that’s another blog post for another day!)
The dish: Does bread and tomatoes sound, shall we say, less-than-interesting? In Spain, the dish is anything but. Known there as pan con tomate (or pa amb tomaquet in Catalonia), the dish is simple but not basic. Bread — either toasted or grilled — is rubbed with raw, crushed tomatoes, then seasoned with olive oil and salt. Garlic is often added, and tomatoes may have been crushed and prepared into a spread beforehand. The dish’s simplicity reflects the superior ingredients that Spain has to offer — taking a bite is like tasting Spain itself.
The dish: In Portugal, it’s common to eat tomatoes with tinned sardines or in a salad, accompanied by a glass of vinho verde. But the country’s most iconic dish might be arroz de tomate, or tomato rice. The dish is deceptively simple — much like Spain’s pan con tomate — but is a bright, bold reflection of the country’s intoxicating cuisine. Onions and garlic are cooked in bacon fat, then added to diced tomatoes and rice, and the whole thing is simmered down in rich chicken stock. The result is a deeply flavourful side dish — though it’s so good, you might just want to eat it as your main course.