Grilled Spanish Tomato Bread
Spice up your appetizer game with this modern take on a traditional Grilled Spanish Tomato Bread inspired by my Camino De Santiago Hike in Spain!
- 1 baguette, sliced in half lengthwise
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 heirloom tomato
- flaky sea salt, to taste
- cracked black pepper
Totally Optional, but Highly Recommended Cheeseboard Add-ons:
- red grapes
- Spanish olives
- dried apricots
- Manchego cheese
Heat a grill or a grill pan to medium-high heat (about 375 on a grill).
Slice your baguette in half, and rub each half with olive oil. Lay each half, olive oil side down, onto your grill or grill pan. Cook for 2-5 minutes or until it is browned.
Take your bread off the grill and set aside, grilled side face up. Meanwhile, cut your tomato in half and rub each half with olive oil. Place the cut side down onto the grill. Grill for 2-5 minutes, until the tomato is warm and soft and maybe has some char marks.
Using tongs grab your tomato and rub the grilled side over the bread, allowing the juices to seep into your crisp bread. Do this for both sides of your grilled baguette.
Season with flaky sea salt and pepper. Cut into 1" thick strips and serve with your favorite cheeseboard accouterments or by itself with dinner.
Nearly eight years ago my dad watched the movie The Way, and ever since then it’s been his dream to hike the Camino de Santiago. So in July my family and I set off on a ten day excursion in the North of Spain. We hiked anywhere between zero and seventeen miles a day (I’ll talk more about that later.) We drank Spanish wine, ate too much bread, and fell in love with the wildflowers. It was the most challenging family vacation we’ve ever been on, but that’s comparing it to our normal beach trip where we literally do nothing but soak in sun and eat. There were some magic moments and some things I would advise to do VERY differently than we did. Since I got a ton of questions about my trip while I was on it, I thought I’d try to answer them all here and give you a “guide” of sorts. Without further ado…
What is the Camino De Santiago?
It is a network of ancient pilgrimages, connecting in Santiago, where the tomb of St. James is located. This means that there are tons of different paths you can take, some taking weeks to complete.
What trail did you hike on the Camino?
My family and I hiked one of the paths in the Northern Spanish region called, Galicia. Our exact route was from Oia to Baiona to Vigo, from Vigo we were bused to Redondela. From there we hiked to Pontevedra to Caldas De Reis to Padron (yes, where the peppers are from) and finally to Santiago. We booked our trip through a travel agency so it was a little “fancier” than your average hiking expedition. There were a couple of days that we were bused from our hotel to the beginning of our hike, so the trail we took isn’t a full leg of the Camino but that’s because we only had 6 days of hiking. We did the most we could do in that amount of time.
Where did you stay?
Since my mom booked this trip through a travel agent, we stayed in hotels along the way instead of hostels. However we ran into quite a few people who were hiking from hostel to hostel. I think if I were doing the trip alone or with friends, I would have preferred hostels because it would be less structured. (Something I’ll talk about later.) But having a really nice meal and bed at the end of hiking seventeen miles was really nice. So I see the benefit in my family’s approach.
In Oia we stayed at the Hotel A Raina. Oia is a TINY little town and A Raina isn’t the nicest hotel, but it’s definitely the nicest in the town. There was a lovely deaf man who worked at the front desk and got us all checked in. I speak a little sign, so we did our best to communicate between ASL and Spanish Sign Language. For dinner we ate on the patio of this tiny little restaurant, while drinking Spanish wine and eating potatoes (see my rant about the food below.) We sat at dinner until the sun went down at 10:30 PM! It was one of our favorite meals, because it felt so authentic.
In Baiona we stayed at the Parador de Baiona. This was a much fancier hotel than the day before – it looks like a castle up on a hill. Baiona is an adorable little town on the coast, where the Spanish breeze kisses your face and makes the cobblestone streets come alive. I could have spent multiple days here. We found a restaurant for dinner that actually had grilled vegetables! (These were some of our only veggies for the whole trip.) I highly recommend going to this cute little town.
In Vigo we stayed at Hotel Junquera. Vigo is a fairly large city and the hotel is a pretty basic (but nice) hotel. However it did have one magical element – the restaurant in the hotel had a FULL VEGAN MENU. I nearly jumped for joy. After walking seventeen miles that day, I was ready to nom so hard on something delicious and my wishes were granted. So that was a pretty special highlight for me.
In Pontevedra we stayed at Hotel Avenida. It was a very basic, but nice hotel similar to Hotel Junquera. It satisfied all of our needs, and we were so exhausted at that point we probably could have slept on bricks. The town itself was possibly my favorite to walk around. It felt like *Spain* – like the Europe I am familiar with. Cobblestone streets and old churches and little shops and European fashion and really good tomato bread. I’d spend three to four days here if I had the chance.
CALDAS DE REIS
Our hotel in Caldas De Reis was something out of a storybook. It’s called Torre do Rio, and it’s pure magic. They have a water fall pouring into a freshwater pool. They have hammocks and wine and the quaintest rooms you’ve ever seen. This was definitely a price jump for us, but it was worth the experience. (AKA. magic.) I would have spent twelve days here if I could. It was the most relaxing and “vacation-like” moment of our whole trip.
We ended up skipping our hike from Caldas De Reis to Padron because my sister got pretty sick. We think she ate some bad meat at lunch the day before in between Pontevedra and Caldas de Reis. So she was out for the count that day and we just got a taxi to the next hotel. That hotel was called Pazo De Lestrove Hotel. It was a great, basic bed situation in the middle of a renovated stone building. So that was fun. We spent most of that day resting in bed, but we did make it out to dinner at a restaurant called A Casa Dos Martinez. I had some of the best heirloom tomatoes I’ve ever had, but I was also served shrimp garnished with crushed up Doritos. Soooo you win some.
In Santiago we stayed at Virxe da Cerca , which had an adorable little courtyard and my room was a little top floor nook with a slanted ceiling and window lights. In general, I think we would have liked Santiago a lot more if we weren’t so tired / recovering from being sick. We took it pretty easy there and I think were all looking forward to being back to our regular food, etc. The other bummer about is that the Santiago de Compostela Cathedral was under construction, so the whole outside was covered in scaffolding.
Did you pack everything in a backpack?
No. We had suitcases that were bused from hotel to hotel each day while we hiked. This made it SO MUCH easier, because our backpacks weren’t a million pounds. I can’t even imagine how strenuous this trip would have been if we had full packs. I’m honestly not sure my back could have handled it, but I have bulging discs in my lower back so that’s a whole different thing.
How many miles did you walk?
On our first day we walked about 12 miles, followed by a 17 mile walk the next day. The next two days were about 13 and 16 miles. Our fifth day ended up being a day of rest, because my sister became ill with some sort of stomach parasite. But we would have walked 13 miles that day. Our last day we walked 7 of what would have been a 13 mile hike, because my sister was still pretty weak. So all in all we walked about 65 miles.
How was the food?
Oh boy. I will start by saying that Galician food is NOT my jam. It is HEAVY on meat, especially seafood with faces and eyes and bones, HEAVY on potatoes, bread, eggs, and salt. It is light on greens and anything resembling a fruit. I ended up eating a dish called a “tortilla” a lot. It isn’t a traditional tortilla like we think of it. It’s more like a frittata with only potatoes in it. The one item I did fall in love with was the tomato bread. When I had it, it wasn’t grilled. It was simply a soft Spanish loaf with tomato, olive oil, and tons of salt on it. So that was how I came up with the inspiration for this Grilled Spanish Tomato Bread. It’s even better than the version I had, and it makes a killer appetizer in less than 5 minutes.
We ate lunches on the trail, in random cities along the way, and dinner at our hotels. Lunches proved to be hard, because these towns had very limited options. So I ended up eating a lot of “tortillas.” If I had planned better or known this would be the case, I would have packed more travel-friendly snacks and protein bars and just eaten those for lunch.
How did you prepare?
Basically, I didn’t. I flew in from LA the day before I left for Spain, so I barely had time to pack. However, my family and I are all very active people, and yet there were parts of this trail we would have qualified as “strenuous.” So I wouldn’t recommend going on this trip if exercise isn’t apart of your routine.
Before we left I bought myself some hiking boots, since I usually hiked in my tennis shoes. I went on a couple of several mile hikes in these boots to break them in, however all of those hikes were in the woods and sadly a lot of our trails were on pavement. I think a combination of the pavement and other body tightness caused my Achilles tendon to flare up. I eventually had to buy tennis shoes to walk in. So I would highly recommend breaking your shoes in on multiple kinds of surfaces before going on the Camino to avoid similar issues.
What gear should I buy?
MOLESKINE. Seriously. Unless you often walk seventeen miles a day, you WILL get blisters. So bring needles (to pop them), bring bandaids, bring neosporin. And most definitely bring Moleskine.
I’d also recommend getting a Camelback Reservoir for water. They help with consistent water consumption while hiking, which is IMPORTANT.
You could do this leg of the hike with tennis shoes, but if you do get hiking boots I’d recommend breaking them in for a few months before going on the trip.
I’d also say that bringing packs of Justin’s almond butter, protein bars, and other travel snacks will prove to be incredibly helpful.
Where was your favorite place?
That’s hard to say, but I’d say either the city of Pontevedra or our hotel at Caldas De Reis.
What did you love about the trip?
I loved the physical challenge of it all. Although I was exhausted, like really exhausted, at the end of each day I had accomplished something incredible. So that was fun. I loved walking through the small Spanish towns. I loved looking at the Spanish wildflowers. I loved Pontevedra and Baiona and Caldas De Reis.
What would you have done differently?
If I were to go back, I would probably not stay in hotels. Not because they weren’t AMAZING and beautiful, but because they forced us to get from city to city on a set schedule. I would have rather taken the hike slower, stopping in more coffee shops, talking to more locals, taking more photos. Then at the end of each day you could find the closest hostel and hope they have a bed. That’s a personal choice, but I just felt a little like I missed out on all of the little moments for the sake of getting from hotel to hotel.
I would have brought more healthy snacks.
I would have broken in my boots earlier.
So that’s it. Those are all of the thoughts I have about my recent trip to Spain. Let me know if you have any more questions I didn’t answer in the comments below! I’m always happy to chat more with you all. (And also you should TOTALLY be making some Grilled Spanish Tomato Bread for your next gathering or happy hour. It’s going to change your life.)