It is So On

July 14th, 2010 · 19 Comments · Dinner, Posts by Andy, Quick, Vegetarian

The best thing we eat this summer will take us three minutes to minutes to make. It will involve only five ingredients, a serrated knife, and not a single charcoal briquette. I’m talking about the tomato sandwich. Not the bacon-lettuce-and-tomato sandwich; not the grilled-cheese-and-tomato sandwich; not the tomato-mozzarella-and-basil sandwich: the tomato sandwich. Period. It is a thing of simple, summery, kid-friendly beauty: After enduring ten depressing months of the color-enhanced Styrofoam junk that passes for tomatoes at the Stop ‘N Shop, it’s like, from out of nowhere, the wind suddenly kicks up and the dark clouds part…and thank you Jesus, blue sky punches through. Tomatoes! Real tomatoes! Flavor! Texture! Sweetness! Over the course of the next eight weeks or so — between now and, say, mid-September, when tomatoes are at their meaty, juicy peak and the heirloom bin at the farmers’ market is positively en fuego – we’ll inhale as many of these as we can. Last weekend, we ate them  for lunch on Friday and Saturday, then as a quick dinner after a long day of driving on Sunday. And we ate them greedily, too, as though the supply was finite and they were about to run out—which, actually, they are. So we scarf what we can (always stopping to ask the kids as we devour them, “How good is this?”) and then suffer through the gray, mealy, tasteless months ahead…until we can do it all again. -- Andy

The Tomato Sandwich

-Country white bread
-Hellmann’s mayonnaise (yes, Hellmann’s; no other mayo will do)
-Tomatoes of various colors and varieties, sliced
-Sea salt and pepper

Take a few slices of a hearty white bread. (We like something with a little gravitas to it. We use something called, appropriately enough, Canadian White, which is available at T. Joe’s.) Toast them. Lightly coat each slice with mayo, but—this is crucial—be sure to do this while the toast is still warm. You want the mayo to get melty, you want to get the oil going, but you don’t want to mess with the awesomeness of the fruit. Now: arrange two or three slices of tomato on top of the toast. Let the kids pick the colors, mixing red, yellow and green, heirloom and non, Jersey and beefsteak, whatever. Sprinkle generously with salt and a couple of grinds of pepper. Some people also add some fresh basil here, but why risk destabilizing the atom? Why mess with perfection?

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19 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Carolyn // Jul 14, 2010 at 2:47 pm

    I love a good tomato sandwich. It makes me think of Harriet the Spy.

    Congratulations on the NY Times article! Cute photo, too!

  • 2 J, Connecticut // Jul 14, 2010 at 3:02 pm

    Glad to find you via the NYTimes. Looking forward to reading backwards through your archives. My parents always made open-faced tomato sandwiches in the broiler with homemade bread, bacon, pickles, cheddar, and onion. Ah, summer!

  • 3 sierra // Jul 14, 2010 at 5:00 pm

    I’m waiting for my tomatoes to ripen. I keep staring and staring, still green.
    There is something intrinsically wrong with buying tomatoes in July.
    In otherwords, I’m jealous of your tomatoes!
    :-)

  • 4 belle on heels // Jul 14, 2010 at 5:10 pm

    tomato sandwiches are my fave summer food EVER, but here in the south, duke’s mayo is the only way to go!

  • 5 Amy // Jul 14, 2010 at 5:54 pm

    The best tomato I had last summer was an heirloom served with homemade mayo. Absolutely delightful. I’m willing to wait until summer for the fruit. It’s amazing how delicious a fresh, ripe tomato can be!

  • 6 Meg // Jul 14, 2010 at 8:31 pm

    Ay yes, the tomato season. It has sprung down south as well and we enjoyed some in 3 out of the last 4 meals. Also good-sprouts on the sandwich.

  • 7 Emily // Jul 14, 2010 at 9:21 pm

    I too am a Harriet the Spy fan and Andy, I agree — must have Hellman’s!

  • 8 andy // Jul 14, 2010 at 9:49 pm

    Belle, you totally nailed me! You’re right. Duke’s is fantastic (I grew up south of the Mason Dixon line) and I thought about including it, but failed. I’m sorry. Every bit as good as Hellmann’s.

  • 9 andy // Jul 14, 2010 at 9:54 pm

    Amy, homemade mayo is a whole ‘nother level of the game. That’s awesome. Even better than Hellman’s.

  • 10 Cindy // Jul 14, 2010 at 10:03 pm

    About ten minutes before I read this I felt my mind switch from berry mode to corn-and-tomato mode. Switch is now cemented. Thanks to Andy I’ll probably buy 1200 tomatoes at the farmer’s market tomorrow.

  • 11 Elizabeth // Jul 15, 2010 at 9:39 am

    Another NYTimes redirect here – your blog is so inspiring! Tomato sandwiches are definitely a little taste of heaven!

  • 12 Rebecca // Jul 15, 2010 at 1:02 pm

    This is the perfect summer sandwich! I live in the UK, but grew up eating either New Jersey State tomatoes or Erie County (New York) tomatoes and this was my favourite way to eat them. People here think I’m crazy and that the sandwich sounds disgusting. I tell them not to knock it until they try it…

  • 13 Ann // Aug 25, 2010 at 9:09 am

    Best.sandwich.ever

    When the hubs and I got married I would buy two brands of mayo as I was not about to give up my Hellmans. A couple of months in he admitted I no longer had to buy his childhood brand as hellmans is the best.

  • 14 Cyndi // Aug 25, 2010 at 7:47 pm

    Best Summer quick food and so (Yummy)! I have to eat 2. Another good idea is Bread(1)slice/tomato/cheese put in oven bake (warm) about 10 mins. Yum

  • 15 Santa Zirne // Jun 29, 2013 at 1:31 pm

    Have it Latvian way – white bread, butter (the real stuff), tomato, dill, sliced onion (optional for onion haters), salt and pepper.

  • 16 Rhett // Jul 26, 2013 at 1:15 pm

    Tomato sandwiches are THE best but the mayo can only be Duke’s. My mom sends it to me in Montana all the way from SC!

  • 17 MFree // Jul 26, 2013 at 3:33 pm

    oh yes! the summer tomato sandwich surpasses all other meals everbut you are missing one important step. you need to peel the tomato! just use the knife and take it off. trust me.. it changes everything.

  • 18 Katie // Jul 27, 2013 at 7:36 am

    This is suddenly all I will be happy eating today! Yum!

  • 19 Rebecca // Jul 28, 2013 at 9:52 am

    Sorry y’all, but if you want to do the tomato sandwich right, you need to use Duke’s, not Hellmann’s. Just so you know! ;-P

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