My Best Tomato Sandwich

By • September 14, 2010 • 85 Comments

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Author Notes: The tomato sandwich is, in my opinion, both under and over-appreciated, depending on the camp you fall into. Some just don't appreciate the magic of a perfect tomato sandwich, while others, like me, think about it more often than is technically healthy. (I figure if fantasizing about tomato sandwiches is among the worst of my vices, I’m probably okay.) When tomato season is in full swing I tend to have a tomato sandwich for lunch at least three days a week.

It’s nothing fancy, but over the years I tweaked until I came up with the tomato sandwich that best suits my taste: two pieces of whole grain toast spread with mayo and stuffed as generously as possible with slices of ripe tomato, plus some salt and coarsely ground black pepper.
Merrill Stubbs

Makes 1 sandwich

  • 2 slices dense wholegrain bread with lots of seeds (my favorite is Eli’s Health Loaf)
  • 1 medium beefsteak tomato (New Jersey or otherwise), perfectly ripe
  • Mayonnaise
  • Kosher salt and coarsely ground black pepper
  1. Toast the bread to your liking (I like mine nice and crispy, but I know some prefer a lighter toast). Let it cool for a bit while you core and cut the tomato into 1/8-inch slices. Slather one side of each piece of toast with about a teaspoon and a half of mayonnaise (more or less if you like) and layer as many of the tomato slices as you can on top of one one piece of toast. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Top with the other piece of toast, cut in half (vertically or diagonally – the choice is yours, so go wild). Eat immediately, with a side of napkins to catch the tomato/mayo juices that will undoubtedly dribble down your chin.
Jump to Comments (85)

Tags: Sandwiches, Summer, tomatoes

Comments (85) Questions (1)

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6 months ago Terri Hancock

I put a couple of fresh basil leaves on my tomato sandwiches.

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10 months ago Cinnamin

I LOVE tomato sandwiches, possibly even more than Harriet The Spy! I could eat them for breakfast every single day. Sometimes I add a drizzle of sriracha :)

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over 1 year ago alyssa

i prefer mine with ricotta in place of the mayo on yours, mmmmm

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over 1 year ago sue jacobs

I anxiously await the ripening of my tomatoes so i can enjoy tomato sandwiches with my mom. But we use Pepperidge Farm White Sandwich Bread. For us, it absolutely has to be that bread, lightly toasted. Add a mix of my thickly sliced, low-acid yellow and early girl tomatoes with a slather of mayo and call it pure heaven.

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over 1 year ago maryw.s.

When I was in about 5th grade, I would ride my bike home for lunch every day, and I would eat a tomato/lettuce/Miracle whip/white bread sandwich-I can still taste it!

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over 1 year ago Rebekah LaBar

Ok- my favorite sandwich as a kid was two slices of Wonder Bread, heavily slathered with Best Foods Mayo, salt , pepper, and grated cheddar cheese.

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over 1 year ago Kate

Add a little dijon mustard to the mayonnaise spread and top with a some chopped basil.

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over 1 year ago walkie74

This is good stuff, but I have to admit, I prefer mine with *gasp* Miracle Whip. Just saying...

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over 1 year ago allstar379

My mom grows her own tomatoes in our backyard, and I can't wait to try this recipe out when they bloom!

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over 2 years ago Dee G

Our heirlooms have been outrageously good this year. Sometimes we can't even bring ourselves to distract from their flavor with anything other than salt and pepper. Every time I think I'm going to make a caprese salad or embellish our tomato sandwiches with basil mayo, I give it to the old standby like your "Best Tomato Sandwich". Simple works great!

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over 2 years ago mamajo

This is great but please try our version!
We grow our own heirloom tomatoes (Brandywine Reds are our very fave.)
We like light rye bread,lightly toasted.
Ranch dressing or mayo. (on both slices of bread)
Cucumber,thinly sliced, when available. (takes the place of lettuce.)
3 or 4 slices of Crispy bacon
then ,of course, a big ,thick slab of juicy,ripe tomato.
Season with sea salt and fresh-ground pepper!
YUMMY
If you ever get the chance to try a nice,home-grown Brandywine tomato,you will be a convert!
They have such a smooth taste,no bitter aftertaste! Around here though,they are almost gone for the season. :(

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over 2 years ago Eden Weissman

My mother used to make me the same sandwich with dark pumpernickel bread and sweet butter.

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over 2 years ago Indrani

An English friend of mine showed me a version of exactly this sandwich which probably sounds terrible to Americans but is totally amazing: It's exactly the same, except that after toasting the wholewheat bread, spread some butter on one side of each, then a thin layer of Marmite. Then a thin layer of mayo on top of one Marmite-d side, sliced tomatoes on top of that, and top it with the other Marmite-d slice, face down. It adds some extra salty umami-ness.

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over 1 year ago Rachel

I live in England and do something similar, but without mayo. I just use the butter and Marmite. I quite often eat them open faced and use a knife and fork.

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over 1 year ago Rachel

Oh, and I like to broil my tomatoes when they aren't at their best, with a drizzle of olive oil, or toss them in a pan with some olive oil for a few minutes.

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over 2 years ago Galapagos

My growing up favorite variant of this is peanut butter and tomato. I prefer rye toast for it but any good bread will do. The variant is:

Substitute butter for the mayonnaise.
Slather with your favorite peanut butter (I grew up with Peter Pan smooth).
Place on the straight from the garden sliced tomatoes.
Salt and pepper.
Eat while warm.

It's not worth making with anything but the best home grown tomatoes. Don't knock it till you try it. Anyone whom I've managed to get to taste this agrees it's a heavenly combo.

With acknowledgements to Mrs. Alvina Smith, our next door neighbor who introduced the Carey family to this sandwich and who taught me the love of gardening as a small child.

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over 2 years ago Muse

I wait all year for Beefsteak tomatoes to ripen here in New Jersey...OMG I could live on these sandwiches until all the tomatoes are gone!

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over 2 years ago ihaventpoisonedyouyet

Wonderful idea for a summer breakfast. And I have to say that jamming a handful of arugula on top doesn't hurt at all.

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about 3 years ago Yumster

Ok, so I think tomato sandwiches are best when you are hungry, which for me means I use whatever I have in the cupboard. After reading so many of the responses to this recipe, I had to head to the kitchen. Here is what I just finished eating... yum! Lightly toasted wheat bread, a small wedge of soft cheese spread on each slice as it comes out of the toaster. Then a nice medium sized ripe tomato sliced into thin 1/8" slices (don't worry I use all the slices!). Once the tomato slices are stacked on the cheese covered toast, I drizzle a very small amount of extra virgin olive oil on them and add a bit of salt and pepper. Then for the finishing touch I add a layer of lightly crushed nacho cheese Doritos chips (Heresy, but so good!). It was tasty.... burrrrp!

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over 3 years ago kathydonovanmohney

This was also a "summer time" favorite from my childhood in Connecticut! My dad would bring in plump red tomato's still warm from the august sun and make us tomato sandwich's. He would make them on Wonder Bread toasted with Hellman's mayonnaise and a little salt & pepper. Nothing fancy, but to me it seemed like a gourmet meal! If we wanted to get fancy he would add a little Velveeta cheese (from the big brick). 50 years later, I'm still making them (just with a healthier bread) Hellman's mayonnaise and a little S & P. I am lucky enough to have married a guy who is just as in love with these as I am and is very content to consider a tomato sandwich dinner! Life is great with summer time tomato's!

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over 3 years ago ctgal

This was the sandwich of my summers in Connecticut when I was a child. Except for the bread, which was Wonder Bread. Mayonnaise and tomatoes on white bread...oh my!! Now I've converted to many grain wheat breads as in your photo. And don't ignore a fried egg on the same bread, toasted, w/ mayonnaise and a slice from a wonderful summer tomato. And, the other night, as the tomato supply from our CSA is waning, we indulged ourselves and had a B.L.T. with mayo on toasted wheat bread w/ a soft yolk fried egg in it too. I saw that somewhere and it stayed with me, but I was too embarrassed to make it. But I succumbed and it was divine!! Better than ice cream! I love your photos too. They make me want to pull the food off the page and eat it! Thank you so so much!

Merrill

over 3 years ago Merrill Stubbs

Merrill is a co-founder of Food52.

You're so welcome! And thank you for sharing your memories and great sandwich ideas.

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over 3 years ago Kamila's Kitchen

Kamila was my grandmother. She passed away in 1982. She made the best biscuits! Southern of course! She and my grandfather were farmers. Nothing in the summer time except right up there with the tomato sandwich was a good old "mater biscuit" Just biscuits made from scratch, slice of a summer garden tomato and salt and pepper! Soooo good!

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over 3 years ago Dflip

My favourite tomato sandwich is two slices of a very good sourdough bread toasted and buttered, with sliced fresh tomatoes from the garden, several slices of 4 year old white cheddar cheese, freshly cracked pepper and a sprinkling of Maldon salt. The salt pops in your mouth like the carbonation from a soft drink. The tomatoes don't cost a lot, so I make up for it with a great cheddar cheese.

For the decadent version I add a couple of slices of hickory smoked bacon and some pieces of cooked salmon steak.

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over 1 year ago Rachel

Cheese and tomato on bread is a very English sandwich filling, as is cheese and cucumber. I love them both!

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over 3 years ago amgracis

my favorite tomato sandwich is sourdough bread, spread w/ cream cheese, topped with sliced tomatoes (whatever looks best at the store), and sliced cucumbers (peeled or not, whichever you prefer), salt & pepper. Delish!

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over 3 years ago weekend at bearnaise

when i was pregnant with my son in the summer of 2009 my husband would make me two tomato sandwiches every morning and i'd eat them for breakfast - i craved them like crazy. i like them with cheddar cheese and the more mayo the better!

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over 3 years ago iCookInsteadofDate

It's been too hot to bother going back out to get beefsteaks or even romas...But I had a pack of cherry tomatoes...diced them up...some olive oil mayo...salt, pepper & a little bit of thyme.... incorporating the mayo together with the diced tomatoes made for a really sweet and very refreshing blend! Try it! I devoured my sandwich so fast, I'm afraid I want another!!!!

In the meanwhile I have some ideas with some leftovers poppy seed dressing or the gorgonzola I haven't finished! Enjoy!

Merrill

over 3 years ago Merrill Stubbs

Merrill is a co-founder of Food52.

Love the idea of folding the mayo in with the chopped tomatoes - will have to try it!

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over 3 years ago karina23

i just tried this simple yet amazing recipe, and my daughter and I simply fell in love with the taste! The city i live in in the Philippines does not sell those big red juicy tomatoes (i dont know what its called) but we have an abundance of the roma tomatoes around, so that is what I used. It was as delicious as the others described it in their comments. Oh, my daughter added grated parmesan cheese as well. Thanks for the recipe!

Merrill

over 3 years ago Merrill Stubbs

Merrill is a co-founder of Food52.

So glad you liked it!

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over 3 years ago airhydro

Super good sandwich light, tasty and healthy........um , um, good...........

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over 3 years ago Let Them Eat Cake

Add some fresh basil leaves.....Yumm

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over 3 years ago maggie'syumkitchen

I love all these delicious variations on tomatoe sandwiches. I often add garden cucumber slices for a nice satisfying crunch, with plenty of cracked pepper and kosher salt. A great fresh tasting combination of summer goodness

Merrill

over 3 years ago Merrill Stubbs

Merrill is a co-founder of Food52.

Yum. Great texture contrast with the cukes.

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over 3 years ago Mary S

The photo of the tomato sandwich really caught my eye. My 96 year old mother eats these all the time but prefers them on white bread. BUT she INSISTS that the tomato be peeled! We, her children and her grandchildren tell her that she is peeling away some of the healthiest part of the tomato. She is from the south, and says that everyone ALWAYS peeled the tomao for a tomato sandwich! She has been telling us this for 60 years that I can remember, so it's not senility! Anyone else have her opinion?

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over 3 years ago saenyc

for what it's worth, my Southern stepmother always peels her tomatoes as well. partly, she says, because that's the way it's always done, but now adds that all of the chemicals and pesticides are absorbed into the skin...so it's healthier.

Merrill

over 3 years ago Merrill Stubbs

Merrill is a co-founder of Food52.

Wow, now that's dedication!

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over 3 years ago Pat in SoCal

If you grew up on homegrown tomatoes the skins are often thicker than the grocery variety...maybe that's why

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over 3 years ago AZCupcake

This is the best way to eat healthfully and simply, and feel so incredibly satisfied with not only a delicious lunch, but life in general. Thanks for the beautiful photo, too! The textures and tastes are illustrated to perfection!

Merrill

over 3 years ago Merrill Stubbs

Merrill is a co-founder of Food52.

Thanks so much! What a lovely comment.

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over 3 years ago LaRiche

Fresh tomatoes make the best tomato pie!!!! In a pillsbury pie shell that is baked.......add cut up garden tomatoes, grated mozzerella cheese, mayo, salt and pepper, chopped garlic and basil. Bake about 40 minutes and it is to die for !!!!!

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over 3 years ago sUesUeTM

Or.... You can use the above ingredients and instead of regular mayo use Olive Oil Best Foods Mayo, add fresh mozerella and basil... Caprese Salad sandwhich. YUMS.

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over 3 years ago karmagirl66

How about a nice slice of melted cheese on top ..

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over 3 years ago syren

They are all amazing tomatoe sandwhiches! Yumm....I roast my tomatoes, basil ,evo, rosemary, lemon thyme, sea salt , pepper, lemon zest. On any type bread roll, ( i prefer soursough Bagels) toasted or not.....smear cream cheese or goat cheese add tomatoes! So many variations to serve on,, But always Great!

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over 3 years ago XTINA

My grandmother still makes a wonderful Tomato Sandwich and we all wait in anticipation for the home grown tomatoes in our area. I have kids of my own now and they love them too...When I wanna change things up I mash my home grown garlic into the mayo for a bit of extra flavor or I'll add a slice of avocado or candy onion or torn pieces of fresh Basil...But nothing is finer then the original Tomato Sandwich on a multi-grain bread lightly toasted....

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over 3 years ago ngould

Best tomato sandwich by far open face!!
Place slices of bread in toaster oven or oven on flat tray and broil just until golden
Remove flip over and spread soft side with favorite spread (mine miracle whip)
Place sliced tomato slices on spread
Add sliced red onion if desired
Sprinkle with garlic salt or any other you desire
Place any kind of sliced cheese on top and return to broil till cheese melts and is bubbly
Delicious and make a meal with coleslaw or potato salad Enjoy

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over 3 years ago CSW

under normal circumstances and any other sandwich, the Eli's would be the way I'd want to go, but a tomato sandwich for me is best with a couple of slices of good ol' soft, white bread. Nothing beats a really fresh bread and a 'mater with just the right amount of acid in it. divine!

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over 3 years ago emlafox

Our family has been eating tomato sandwiches like this for as long as I can remember. My Mom said she has eaten them for 60 years!!! But a couple differences.. We call them Tomato Toast... and also, we prefer the toast to still be warm when we eat them so we have the tomato's sliced first, pop the bread down in the toaster, when it pops, put a little butter on one slice, mayo on the other and then pile on the tomato's, salt and pepper. The faster you can make it, the better it is with the warm toast! I'm just saying.... :)

Merrill

over 3 years ago Merrill Stubbs

Merrill is a co-founder of Food52.

I can picture the mayo sinking into the warm toast as I read this -- delicious!

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over 3 years ago Kate's Kitchen

Let's see...I have had approximately 5 tomato sandwiches this week :-) All of mine have come from my Better Boy plants which are producing like mad!

Dukes is my mayo of choice...

Merrill

over 3 years ago Merrill Stubbs

Merrill is a co-founder of Food52.

Impressive.

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over 3 years ago glitzgirl

Soo glad to read about plain ol' tomatoe sandwich fans. So many times I have had friends ask where was the bacon, like my sandwich wasn't complete! They just don't appreciate the purity of bread, mayo, tomatoe & a little salt & pepper. An addition like sweet onion is nice, but there is nothing like getting back to basics.

Merrill

over 3 years ago Merrill Stubbs

Merrill is a co-founder of Food52.

You said it!

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over 3 years ago Bee

I love a tomato sandwich but, I use no bread on top. It's topless for me. I think the top slice of bread masks the lucious tomato taste. Wish I could grow my own, the racoons love tomatoes too.

Merrill

over 3 years ago Merrill Stubbs

Merrill is a co-founder of Food52.

They have good taste...

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over 3 years ago Linddar

I have about 9 beautiful tomatoes (with more to come) on a tomato plant in a big pot on my patio. I've already eaten 3 and they were perfect although not Jersey Tomatoes. I actually ate one large one by itself with just salt. Yum. I wonder if they are available in Georgia where I live. Although some of my relatives ate tomato sandwiches years ago, I grew up eating bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwiches and they deserve a mention also.

A perfectly ripe tomato is an amazing treat. It is in a totally different league than most of the tomatoes we have available at the grocery store. Favorite lunch on South Beach....two thick slices of a perfect tomato, two thick slices of mozzarella cheese, drizzled with olive oil slightly seasoned with fresh garlic and lemon and garnished with fresh basil. Also, toasted bagel half topped with cream cheese, nova, onion and slice of tomato.

Merrill

over 3 years ago Merrill Stubbs

Merrill is a co-founder of Food52.

I love eating a whole, ripe tomato with just salt. Perfection.

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over 3 years ago TXExpatInBKK

I agree with you and Merrill... reminds me of my grandfather's garden when I was little and sitting on the back steps with a salt shaker, eating tomatoes until we thought we'd be sick.

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over 3 years ago georgiagirl

Wow. A tomato sandwich. Not really a recipe to tweak is it? We eat these in the country all the time. Didn't know I needed something so simple and generic referenced in a recipe book. Good to know. *sigh.*

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over 3 years ago TXExpatInBKK

I know, isn't it great to be reminded of life's simple pleasures? If I weren't stuck in the office I'd make a tomato sandwich right now, yum!!!

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over 3 years ago Evon

I,too, am a Southern "girl" and 75 years ago my mother took me swimming every day in the summertime. I was 10. There was a lady in the lobby of the pool who sold big old ripe tomato sandwiches for .15 each. How I loved those sandwiches! Thanks for the memory.

Merrill

over 3 years ago Merrill Stubbs

Merrill is a co-founder of Food52.

You're very welcome!

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over 3 years ago Jersey chef

must use Jersey tomato, berst tomato in the world, I also add fresh basiland light extra virgin oil, its out of this world......

Merrill

over 3 years ago Merrill Stubbs

Merrill is a co-founder of Food52.

My husband, who is from NJ, would definitely agree with you on this one! (I'm pretty sold on Jersey beefsteaks too.)

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over 3 years ago hyacinth

this looks like something I would eat, with natural yogurt instead of Mayo, thanks

Merrill

over 3 years ago Merrill Stubbs

Merrill is a co-founder of Food52.

Nice idea!

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over 3 years ago pegehr

Nancz~~that's what I was going to say...especially if you live in Jersey! add Vidalia Onion slice yummy. I'm going to have to try Eli's Health Loaf....using the oil/vinegar with seasonings sounds good and is like a tomato salad!

Merrill

over 3 years ago Merrill Stubbs

Merrill is a co-founder of Food52.

Love the addition of a little onion. And if you haven't tried Eli's bread, you really should!

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over 1 year ago Rachel

I have to confess to eating onion sandwiches on their own, with buttered bread and salt and pepper. Also good with cheddar cheese, another English favourite.

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over 3 years ago luvincookin

Looks so yummy...can't wait to try it. The picture is so inviting!

Merrill

over 3 years ago Merrill Stubbs

Merrill is a co-founder of Food52.

Thanks!

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over 3 years ago jana6099

This receipe brings back memories from 50 years ago when I was young. We relied on the garden for food and this sandwich was a staple in the summer. I often forget to make one because buying tomatoes in the store is a lot different from going to the garden, picking the tomato, and smelling the stem area for the wonderful fresh picked aroma. Of course, its Miracle Whip over mayo for that little bit of zing!

Merrill

over 3 years ago Merrill Stubbs

Merrill is a co-founder of Food52.

There's nothing like picking your own tomatoes. Or herbs, or berries, or squash, or....

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over 3 years ago wietje

Did I thank you? This is so simple and yet so good. I didn't have mayo so I use olive oil with grated garlic to toast and spread some dijon mustard.

Merrill

over 3 years ago Merrill Stubbs

Merrill is a co-founder of Food52.

Sounds lovely.

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over 3 years ago chisai

I make this exact sandwich from when the tomatoes become perfect until it ends. It really is the best thing you can eat in the summer.

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over 3 years ago nan02

This is my FAVORITE summer sandwich but can't eat it without a thin slice of SWEET onion - yes, three times a week during tomato season.

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over 3 years ago greenfield

My mother made this sandwich for me every summer growing up. It's great with a really big, ugly brandywine heirloom tomato.

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over 3 years ago Hummusit

In the spirit of recent events (...) you should try substituting the mayo with aioli.

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over 3 years ago Schnacks

I agree with you on the grainy, nutty bread and lashings of salt and pepper. Being a Southern girl I've got to bring Miracle Whip to the party though!

Grace_marian_astra_madeline_myrtle_jean_in_new_jersey

over 3 years ago TXExpatInBKK

Yes! I actually let out a "whoop" when I first moved to Bangkok and found Miracle Whip at the grocery store.

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over 3 years ago LeighBee

My favorite tomato sandwich is potato rolls, soft butter, and perfect tomatoes. A little salt and pepper, of course. Summer is on its way!

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about 4 years ago TheThinChef

Perfection is ripe tomatoes and good mayonnaise between 2 slices of good bread. Tomatoes have a "second season" in Florida starting right now as the weather cools down enough but still stays warm and humid for another month or 2...I am so excited for some good 'mater sandwiches! Thanks for the reminder :)

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over 4 years ago luvcookbooks

Meg is a trusted home cook.

this is so amazing with a lemony home made mayonnaise, but otherwise I like it with olive oil (brushed on with a pastry brush) instead of mayo. otherwise totally in agreement...