Ten Dollar Dinners with Melissa d'Arabian has been the source of more recipes on my family's table than any other show on the Food Network. Her recipes are easy, approachable ... and, frankly, they're cheap! The reviews of her recipes on the Food Network website, however, are filled with debates about whether or not her menus fulfill the show's promise of feeding four people for ten bucks. Enough already. There's a wide disparity of food prices across this country of ours, so even a tightwad like me can give the woman some leeway.
For this reason, this review is only about the food, specifically her recipe for Pan Con Tomate from a recent episode. I served it once for lunch and another time for a light dinner with a salad.
The recipe comes together in less than 15 minutes. First, you toast baguette slices, then rub them with fresh garlic and tomato. I was surprised at how much garlic flavor came through with this technique. What was even more curious about this recipe was sauteeing deli ham in olive oil to substitute for the traditional (and more expensive) Serrano ham. I used thinly sliced "ham off the bone" instead of the boiled deli ham -- it's what I had on hand -- and wow, did it have a lot of flavor! I even used a crappy baguette purchased from Tops, and the recipe was delicious. I'm sure I'll make this again, particularly when tomatoes are in season and ham is hanging out in the fridge.
Bread with Tomato: Pan Con Tomate
Original recipe by Melissa d'Arabian
Serves: 20 toasts
1/2 French baguette
4 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for drizzling
5 thin slices ham (she used boiled ham -- I used Wegmans "ham off the bone")
2 Roma tomatoes
2 cloves garlic, peeled
Preheat oven to 400. Slice the bread at an angle into 20 thin pieces. Using 3 tablespoons olive oil, brush both sides of each slice of bread. Place on a baking sheet and bake until lightly toasted, then flip until the other side is lightly toasted, about 5 minutes per side.(Melissa grilled hers -- see her original recipe if that's what you want to do.)
Cut each slice of ham in quarters. In a small saute pan, add the remaining tablespoon olive oil and cook the ham until crispy. Remove the ham to a paper towel to remove the excess oil.
While the bread is still warm, rub a clove of garlic on each slice of bread. Cut the top off the tomatoes and rub the tomato on the slices of bread. (She drizzled olive oil on each piece -- I skipped that step). Sprinkle with kosher salt. Top with a piece of ham.