Following taken from the third issue of Breeze e-magazine.

There probably aren’t many foods that are associated with dancing, as much as tomato paste sandwiches are here on St Helena. So much so we’ve nicknamed them ‘bread ‘n’ dance,’ an island favourite made of tomatoes and onion – sounds simple but boy do they taste good!

It does sound rather peculiar that a tomato spread be highly linked with dancing and here are the stories of how it supposedly happened.

St Helena Bread and Dance, also known as Tomato Paste sandwiches. For an authentic St Helenian experience, eat on special ocassions, including picnics.

How Tomato Paste Became Bread and Dance

A custom at Saint weddings is the couple’s first dance around ‘the table.’ Back in the old days, the table took pride of place in the middle of the room and was laden with the wedding cake and goodies usually only available on special occasions, which included tomato paste sandwiches.

Hence the ‘bread and dance’ reference.

Likewise they were once served at dances held in community centres across the island. People would go out for a good ole ‘swing round’ dancing session and having worked up an appetite, enjoyed a treat of tomato paste sandwiches afterwards – ‘bread ‘n’ dance.’

These days bread ‘n’ dance is oft en made for everyday sandwiches although they do still hold a sense of occasion as no get-together is complete without a plateful being passed around – even weddings.

They are delicious, but don’t take our word for it, whip up a batch yourself for a St Helena sandwich experience.


Main ingredients for St Helena Bread and Dance include bacon, onion, tomatoes, parsley and an egg.

St Helena Bread ‘n’ Dance (tomato paste)


Tomato Paste Sandwich Spread


1 lb (450g) fresh tomatoes or 14 oz (400g) can of tomatoes

1 onion, finely chopped

1 chilli (optional)

1 teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon salt

Cooking oil

Parsley (chopped)

2 rashers of rindless bacon, finely chopped (optional)

Beaten egg (optional)

Frying the finely chopped onion and bacon. St Helena tomato paste on the way.


Heat oil in frying pan. Add onions, chilli and bacon and fry until soft and onions start to brown.

Add tomatoes, salt and sugar.

Tomato paste in the pan, simmering away before adding the egg and parsley.

Using a fork or slotted spoon mash the tomatoes and simmer the mixture until all the liquid has evaporated and you are left with a thick pulp.

Stir in the parsley and beaten egg and cook for a further 10 minutes until done. For a vegetarian option leave out the bacon and egg.

Behind the scenes photo shoot for Tomato Paste, better known on St Helena as simply, Bread and Dance

Behind the scenes – shooting the lead photo for St Helena Bread and Dance in the Breeze 3 e-magazine.

Allow to cool before serving. This will keep in the fridge for up to a week (if indeed it can be resisted that long.)

The tomato paste also makes a tasty dip for chips, crackers and crudités.


Try Our Other St Helena Recipes

If you’re in a St Helena mood, why not try our other island recipes and experience a taste of St Helena?

Most famous of all are St Helena fishcakes – simply divine.

For a one pot wonder have a go at St Helena plo, a truly scrumptious rice pilaf dish.

Pumpkin fritters will satisfy a sweet tooth, it makes a great dessert and is also the perfect accompaniment with a cup of tea.

Have a go and let us know how your St Helena cooking turns out. We’d love to hear from you.


Tomato Paste, better known on St Helena as simply, Bread and Dance

St Helena Bread and Dance – adding parsley to the mix.