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The Perfect Tomato Sandwich

8/20/2008 3:54:23 PM

Tags: tomato recipes, seasonal eating

Tomatoes Belsinger

Ingredients:

You must start with a summer ripened tomato. Any color will do, but it has to be dead-ripe, succulent, and bursting with juice. It should never be refrigerated. 

Next you need mayonnaise. If you don't like mayo, you are just plain up the creek without a paddle. I suppose you could drift along with olive oil, or nothing at all, but mayo is part of the magic of a perfect tomato sandwich.

The bread must be soft and yielding, never toasted, the better to absorb the mayonnaise and juice of the tomatoes. Last but not least, salt and freshly ground pepper are the essential seasonings.

Assembly:

Wash and dry your chosen tomato, and use your sharpest serrated knife to slice it. Go thick or thin (I like to pile them two high). Spread the mayonnaise on both slices, making sure it flows all the way to the edges, perhaps with an artful drip over the edge. Fit the tomatoes onto the sandwich as best you can.

Serving Suggestions:

Sandwich in hand, you may now move to the sink and start eating. Letting the juice run down your chin or your hands is handy for clean-up. Option two is to put your sandwich on a plate and take it out to the back stoop, where it can drip and run while you soak up the sunshine in which the tomato was grown. If you must sit at a table, don't forget napkins.

The first bite is all about texture -- the soft bread, the velvety emulsion of mayonnaise, the luscious tomato, bursting with juice – a unique and wonderful sensory experience. By the third bite, be ready for the harmony of flavors in which yeasty bread, creamy mayonnaise and tart-acid-sweet tomato come together, accentuated with spikes of salt and pepper. Don't hurry. Savor the flavors.

Tomato sandwiches are about as basic as you can get, but every one of them is satisfying and grounding. I eat them just about every day, for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or in between. And every last one of them is perfect.


When tomatoes are in season, Maryland writer Susan Belsinger delights in the daily practice of preparing and eating perfect tomato sandwiches. Photo by Susan Belsinger.

 



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Post a comment below.

 

d_1
9/9/2008 7:50:46 PM
i didn't hear any mention of bacon..... i know it's bad for you, but if ANYTHING gives you a good reason to eat it, it's a homegrown tomato! i'll also say that the "veggie" bacon is good too (brand name withheld but it starts with an "m"- not an ad- just the only brand i've had) B+L+T -L (lettuce is worthless, lets face it..) = heaven on bread. and though i hate to add a brand-name, "a sandwhich just isn't a sandwich without..." i like the real mayo on other things, but.... come on, it's "miracle whip"!!!

carole rountree
9/8/2008 7:56:23 AM
i am so happy to find this website.

Deb_1
9/5/2008 9:06:24 AM
Another version of this sandwich is to add sliced avocado and sprouts. Yummy!

Charlene_2
9/5/2008 7:30:48 AM
Every year around the end of May/beginning of June, a group of us get together for a Creole tomato/Vidalia onion festival. Everyone brings tomatoes, onions, different breads and we make wonderful sandwiches. I usually make garlic mayo and onion mayo because you have to eat tomato onion sandwiches with mayo. We usually have enough for lunch for the rest of the week. The sandwiches are good by themselves but sharing with friends makes them incredible.

Del Olds
9/3/2008 10:01:10 AM
Anything other that Tomatoes (besides the essentials, mayo, salt and pepper on white bread) becomes another kind of sandwich. I have had tomato sandwiches for lunch the past two months and still plan to eat them for another month or more. Nothing like the first home-grown tomato sandwich of the year, except maybe the last one. As the old song goes, "There's only two things money can't buy, True love and home-grown tomatoes." :-)

joan p green
9/1/2008 1:43:32 PM
You are absolutely right! That is the ONLY WAY to eat a tomato sandwich! It is so succulent, juicy, and DEE-licous! I eat them that way all the time...right over the sink! They are heavenly...

Jan_2
8/31/2008 8:19:39 AM
Yummm....I am hungry right now just reading this. Another great tomato sandwich my family loves is toasted whole grain bread, buttered with sliced garden ripe tomatoes, still warm from the vine with a bit of salt and pepper. We love them for breakfast, but anytime is perfect!

daryl_2
8/30/2008 5:55:45 PM
I love tomato sandwiches - this time of the year - I eat way too many. One suggestion - after I have eaten several sandwiches just as described above - I will start adding just a little mustard. Mustard adds just a little kick but after several with mustard - I am back to basics - no mustard just bread, mayo and tomato. Summer is just too short.

Mickie_2
8/30/2008 1:25:48 PM
I remember eating summer tomatoes with my Mom on the back steps when I was 5 years old. My husband recently made fun of me for creating a Squidoo page (http://www.squidoo.com/tomatosandwich) about my tomato sandwich preferences. I even took the pictures for my page! Now I do not feel so foolish! Untoasted white bread --yes! Mayo --yes! I have also been known to put my home-made pesto on this delectble food. I will put a link to your article on my Sandwich page on Squidoo.

Jan _1
8/30/2008 2:42:20 AM
MMMM This is the PERFECT first of the season sandwich!! The one you wait ALL year to enjoy. I agree with all parts of it! If it has been a particularly long winter, I may need 2 or 3 of these before I have the patience to procede to the most absolutely WONDERFUL and decadant tomato sandwich ever!! (At least in my opinion.) Here it is: You will need the same ingrediants, with the addition of a good sized slice or slab, your choice, of good natural cheddar cheese (I prefer at least 1/4" of sharp)You may lightly toast the bread beforehand, or not, depending on your level of impatience and anticipation. 1) Slather the bread with real mayonnaise, (none of that spread stuff!)2) lay on the cheddar cheese. 3) cover with sun ripened tomatoes, as thick as you like. 4) salt and pepper the whole thing and finally 5) put under the broiler till the cheese is melted, the edges are nicely browned, and the tomatoe is bubbling all over. CHECK OFTEN!! It goes from raw to done to burnt very quickly! 6) ENJOY!! but try to have enough patience not to burn your mouth!!!

Patricia Campbell
8/29/2008 9:47:10 PM
This sandwich is almost right, but it must be on toasted bread with one of the slices spread with butter rather than mayo. I, too, thought I was alone in enjoying tomato sandwiches. I don't eat mine over the sink- it's more satisfying on the patio.

Ken_1
8/29/2008 12:15:26 PM
Well Cherie, there are tomato sandwiches and the famous BLT - bacon, lettuce, and tomato. Don't 'dis the BLT, it affords a unique taste that complements the tomato perfectly. For the *perfect* BLT, you have to cook the bacon perfectly, which means it isn't undercooked and fatty nor overcooked and crispy. it should be a little bit pliable after it is rested on paper towels. It may be necessary to put a smaller pan over the bacon while it is cooking to ensure it cooks uniformly. The bread gets toasted to your preference and gets coated with your favorite salad dressing (I prefer Miracle Whip as it is tangier). Any crisp juicy lettuce will suffice, and of course your favorite ripe tomato slices. Its hard to beat a Cherokee Purple ripened to perfection!

Nan in VA
8/29/2008 11:21:54 AM
I whole-heartedly agree with Susan's wonderfully descriptive process on selecting, preparing and consuming the all-important summer tomato sandwich. I'd like to offer a slight tweak to the preparation: core and peel the tomato before slicing. If the tomato is ripe, it only takes an extra minute to peel it - great rewards for just a little effort. Caution: you may never eat an unpeeled tomato again!

Tina_1
8/29/2008 9:32:09 AM
Try the sandwich described in the article with a sprinkle of garlic powder and a couple dashes of Tabasco sauce for a delicious kick! In South Carolina the best tomatoes are from John's Island- the biggest, reddest, juiciest every summer.

ricenbeanies
8/29/2008 9:10:34 AM
I love tomato sandwiches too. Vegannaise is a must for me. I add garlic powder, basil, salt and pepper and the all important, vegetarian bacon bits. Lettuce and onion added is great. Spicy hoagie spread adds some zip as well. I so look forward to that first tomato.

Cherie_1
8/29/2008 8:19:46 AM
Oh my goodness....I thought I was the only one who ate tomato sandwiches. I never told anyone as most people ruin it by adding bacon and lettuce on TOASTED bread. My mouth watered just at the description of the sandwich....another favorite is to add a thin slice of cucumber and swap out the mayo for cream cheese. Tomato with mayo on a couple slices of fresh bread speaks summer and is still the best.










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