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!