el bocadillo – the definitive minimalist sandwich

jamon bocadillo

OK so I have a confession.

Spain has been home now for exactly a week and, well, I haven’t eaten out. That’s right seven whole days and I am yet to set foot in a restaurant or bar. Before you start wondering what’s wrong, let me explain.

I’ve become addicted to the markets here. Hell, even a trip to the supermercado is an adventure.

My first day in the beautiful city of Barcelona I went to no less than three different markets and two different supermarkets. There were so many enticing things that I just had to take them home – lucky my apartment is fitted with a lovely minimalist kitchen.

So I’ve been having so much fun shopping and cooking at home that I just haven’t felt like eating out alone.

Which brings me to my next confession. I am completely addicted to jamon. Ever since the nice man in la Boqueria market gave me a mouthful of the wonderful jamon iberico de belotta, I’ve been hooked. Not a day goes by that I haven’t partaken of the pig.

Which brings me to the humble bocadillo – the minimalist Spanish sandwich.

Just a baguette filled with some meat, cheese, omelet or tuna. The Spanish do not add lettuce, pickles, onions, mustard or mayonnaise to their bocadillo which appeals to the minimalist in me. Sometimes the bread is moistened by rubbing the cut side of a tomato onto the bread, or drizzling some olive oil – or both. But mostly it’s just bread and one filling.

I find good quality jamon is flavoursome and moist enough to enjoy on its own.

Allow me to share my latest favourite lunch – and the best thing is you don’t have to be living in Barcelona to be able to make it for yourself.

bocadillo with jamon

bocadillo with jamon

serves 1

If you’re lucky enough to be in Spain you could make this sandwich with a different type of jamon every day. Proscuitto or parma ham would make good substitutes.

If you’re feeling nervous that your sandwich will be too dry, serve with some good extra virgin olive oil on the side. But please trust me and try it without the oil first.

1/2 – 1/3 baguette
2 – 4 slices jamon

Break open baguette. Layer with jamon, close up and enjoy.



Looking for the perfect Christmas gift for the Mum(s) in your life?
My cookbook ‘And the Love is Free’ is a celebration for Mums everywhere.
For more details and to pick up a copy click HERE.


  • I already said that in tweeter, but it’s worth saying it again.

    You need to know what “pa amb tomaca” is, it means “bread with tomato” but it’s much more than that.

    I’ll try to explain it… Take a peace of bread and cut it like you do for a bocadillo. Cut a tomato in two halves (it must be a juicy tomato, not a dry one). Take one half of the tomato and make it pass over the bread, making it wet. After it drop a little of oil over both pieces of bread and press one with the other, to make the oil spread over the bread. Put the jamon where it usually is, and eat.

    This is a picture of how “pa amb tomaca” looks: http://fotos.subefotos.com/c737e6351b0dab9a8d6a8115cee4b20co.jpg

  • Kees, my mother makes the best romesco you can imagine :)

    And I like it with garlic too, but then you have to toast it first!


  • thanks for the clarification guys.

    so helpful to have local knowledge thanks.

    I’m already a big fan of salsa romesco – are there any commercial ones that are OK? I’ve seen a few in the supermercado

  • I’ve decided to do one last round of European backpacking (sentimental and $ reasons) but was worried I’d be missing out on the foodie delights of Spain. This sandwich gives me hope! Jules, if you could list any of your major foodie finds: best markets, cafes, bookshops… I’d really appreciated it.

  • Mr. Me, is there a way to get her recipe? Steal it perhaps? Talk with her over a few bottles of wine? Like to make it myself again from a good recipe that works.
    Jules, at the moment I’m in Portugal, not for sale here the salsa Romesco. I buy it in a Spanish shop in Amsterdam, so it must be for sale in London in a Spanish specialty shop.
    Another tip is Chipiona (Andalucia) near Parque Nacional de Doñana with in El Rocio once a year the gypsy gathering. See in Chipiona the sun go down with a glas of: Fino, muy seco, Jerez (Sherry). Try this in Cadaqués near Roses/Rosas, where I wrote you about, eating Sea Urchin with a Fino as company.

  • Jules:

    If you’re going to Madrid, let me know. Apart from the fact that the Museum of Jamon kept making me laugh (I mean, a ham museum/shop? how marvellous is that?) there is a restuarant hidden in the back streets which blew us away. It was a bit pricey, but the food was glorious.

    Have fun. X

  • Hi Lucy, Where is that restaurant in Madrid? Think I will be there with Christmas and I will see that Museo de Jamon. Thanks

  • La Boqueria is so brilliant- the best market I have ever been to. I bought grapes there that have ruined me for all other grapes. I was talking to a butcher in Harrods on the weekend and he was saying that during a promotion with a spanish importer they were selling fresh loin (lomo?) of iberico de belotta which he said was like Kurobota pork. If you are chatting with your jamon man could you ask him if this product is common (or not)? I’d love to try and track it down sometime if it is. Enjoy Barcelona!

  • You may see it as pa amb tomaca or pa amb tomaquet – they’re the same thing and it’s very Catalan, not Spanish. Makes that sandwich taste amazing, no?

  • Su-Lin, of course you’re right, but it is also a very Catalan thing to say that. Nice langauge Catalan.

  • Hi Kees:

    It’s glorious – Restaurant address is:

    El Rincon de Esteban
    Santa Catalina, 3, 28014 Madrid, Spain
    Phone: +34 914299289

    Esteban – who is Basque – is a hoot. He kissed me on both cheeks and gave me a rose as we left. It was recommended by a waiter at breakfast one morning, and I LOVE him for it. Lots of fish, all of it good.

  • Hey Jules, have been reading your blog with avid interest – and am very jealous that you’re in Spain! If you’re still in Barcelona, and if it’s still there, try the Bar Pinotxo for some tapas – is in the Boqueria market and we had some wonderful snacks there some years ago.

  • Jules, unfortunately I must admit that it’s from difficult to impossible to find a good romesco in a supermercado. You can get a good one only in a few restaurants.

    Kees, I’ll post the recipe here but I will need days for that, and I have to say, the names of the recipe will be in spanish so find a translator :)

  • I love going to the markets and looking at/buying local produce and cooking for myself when I travel too Jules. Much more fun. Particularly since we can’t bring most of that stuff back home to Australia. Some of the best meals I had when I was travelling last year were the ones I made for myself with great local produce.The jamon is Spain is fantastic – I never “got” procuitto etc back here in Australia as it had no flavour (other than salt). Luckily now we are starting to get some better stuff these days. Make the most of your time there and eat as much as you can!!

  • Mr. Me, no problem will be delighted with the recipe, take your time. Spanish is no problem for me I’m a happily multi lingual Dutch person, with some writing mistakes.

    Ever heard your mother talk about Mojama (wind dried Tuna fish), that’s a real treat from the South of Spain

  • Jamon mmmm

    Funnily enough I wrote a post about it on my blog spot the other day and about Casa Iberica in Carlton Melbourne. So don’t despair, when you return to Australia you will only have to visit Melbourne to replicate your Jamon experiences.

  • glad to know tree change callingnee – always looking for excuses to visit melbourne town!

    that dried tuna sounds right up my alley – thanks for the tip

    spice & more – lovely to hear from a fellow market hopping traveller – it’s a bummer about the australian quarrrantine rules – but I understand how important it is to keep foreign diseases out of oz

    mr me.
    thanks for offering to send through a romesco recipe and from saving me the trouble of trying the supermercado types – send it through in spanish if you like – will be good practice for me to translate – I’ working my way through simone ortega’s 1080 recipes

    hey claire
    thanks for the tip – will add it to my list of places to eat

    thanks for the restaurant tip lucy – not going to make it to madrid this time – but will keep it in mind for my next spanish sojourn – already plotting a return visit

    su-lin you’re so right about that

    I’m putting my travel finds on my tumblr page – click on the ‘adventures’ in the side bar to find it.

    will suss out the loin of fresh iberico ham – sound lovely

  • Hi Jules,
    I just came across your blog and read that you are in Barcelona! :)
    I am actually from Girona, and reading your post I realized that on your recipe there is a mistake or at least, it can be improved. :p
    In Catalonia, we make our “entrepans” (bocadillos in catalan) by spreading a tomato on top of the sliced baguette, adding a pinch of salt and extra virgin olive oil. Try it this way! It tastes so much better. ;)
    I also read about your blind date to go to El Bulli. I wish I could go with you! (I live in LA)
    Since you are there, you may wanna try to go to the restaurant El Celler de can Roca (in Girona) that last week got the 3rd Michelin star, and also to another 3rd star restaurant called Sant Pau from Carme Ruscalleda (near Barcelona). I think you would enjoy them. ;)
    Have fun and enjoy the good food!

    • hi merce
      thanks for you comments. I’m actually booked in to have lunch at el celler de can rocca the day after elBulli. very excited about it. have hear great things about girona. and thanks for the bocadillo tips – will have to try it out

  • I am completely jealous that you are able to cook for yourself in Spain. I was required to live with a family that gave the borders the worst of the meal and something tasty for their family. Luckily when I went to the University once a week I got to take along my own bocadillo and it is pure pleasure. My favorite was chorizo.

  • melpy
    that’s criminal that you didn’t have lovely food in spain – hearing you about the chorizo bocadillo (a close second to jamon for me)

  • I chuckled when I read the term “the minimalist Spanish sandwich”. I am old. All my sandwiches are minimalist. I never saw “junk” on sandwiches until I left home at 22.
    I have never left the USA.

    • joan
      always lovely to hear from a fellow minimalist – hope you do get a chance to travel at some stage. America is a great country but there’s an amazing world out there

  • Jules,
    just back from Madrid, had a great time with food all over the place. Loved the pubs where you could order nice small plates of food with your drink. The cooked potatoes with garlic mayonnaise where the best simple dish I eat for a long time. Don’t know if I should call them tapas that’s more a name for Andalucía. Found a reasonable Salsa Romesco in a bottle: Conservas del Vallès Feliubadaló, Barcelona.
    I stayed with friends in Madrid and they let me try “Cesina”, a cured meat from cows, made like Jamon. I think this tastes even better then Jamon, please try it. It is from León and the name is also used in Argentina but I don’t know if the meat is in the same way processed.

    • hey kees
      glad you enjoyed madrid
      and thanks for the salsa romesco recommendation. and I’m intigued by the cesina. I’m a big fan of italian bresaola which is also beef I think. unfortunately I’m now back in Australia but will put these on my list of things to try next time I’m in spain which will hopefully be soon!

  • Jules, finely had time to see into my cookery book library, the correct way of writing is Cecina and not Cesina. I found more information and recipes for Mojama, Cecina and also for Salsa Romesco in the first Moro book of Samuel and Samantha Clark. As I remember well you recommended Moro East.

  • Dear Jules,
    Excited to see you using Jamón, the best of which comes from just 8kms away from here (5J’s Bellota Iberian ham from Jabugo), (We are just back from Australia which we loved. Cooked a Paella in the garden in Greenwich, Sydney, with fish from Sydney Fish market…wow!)

    Here’s a recipe for Romesco sauce as we make it at Finca Buenvino:

    2 large red capsicum peppers
    6-8 large tomatoes
    2 heads of garlic
    1.1/2 cups of toasted whole almonds
    about 1/2 loaf of stale bread.
    Olive oil
    Salt and pepper.

    Roast the peppers and tomatoes until blistered (the peppers will take a little longer than the toms). Place to one side and cool. De-seed when cool

    Wrap the garlic heads in tinfoil and roast for one hour.

    Remove the garlic allow to cool.

    Put the ripped up stale bread in the oven to toast.

    Peel the tomatoes and squeeze out the garlic cloves from the skin.

    Put the vegetables in the blender and blend till smooth, slowly add the crumbled bread and the toasted almonds. Start pouring on the olive oil. You need to reach a stiff but grainy mayonnaise sort of texture. Don’t forget to season with salt and pepper.

    Come and visit if over in Spain. Food Photography courses http://www.naturallightnaturalfood.com

Comments are closed.