There is nothing in the world as delicious as a Toasted Tomato Sandwich prepared with locally grown, in-season, fresh tomatoes. It’s a classic, and one that many of us can remember from the summers of our childhood. This version is simple and easy, but with a few surprise ingredients to increase the yum factor.
To be perfectly honest, I don’t remember much about my younger years. But, it seems I can remember everything about my teenage years. That is when I had my first taste of a Toasted Tomato Sandwich. At the time, my family and I had been living in Ontario for about a year at the most. My parents were renting a three-story home in a quadplex. We were on the back of the building, facing a large, open field.
I remember catching fireflies in glass jars there. That was where I bought my first computer. It was a Commodore 64 that I bought second-hand for one hundred dollars. It was also where I learned to sew and craft. And, it was where I fell in love with a girl named Brenda. She never knew how much I loved her and I never got to tell her. The main reason for that was because she was a character on 90210.
Get to the point, Edna! Yes, I know – the Toasted Tomato Sandwich. On the front of the building, was a family that we got to know quite well. Along with the mom and dad, there were three little girls. My brother and I would babysit sometimes to help the mom out. The dad used to go away to work and would only be at home on the weekends. So, we would sit with the kids while the mom ran errands.
Once, the mom asked me to make Toasted Tomato Sandwiches for the girls for their lunch. I thought it sounded so strange! Just tomatoes? On a sandwich? Well, let me tell you, Dear Reader, they were delicious. Thirty-five years later, I still enjoy those sandwiches, but only if they are made right!
A TRADITIONAL TOASTED TOMATO SANDWICH
To most people, a toasted tomato sandwich consists of only three ingredients – the bread, the tomatoes, and the mayonnaise. In the simplest form, I like them the same way, but if you try to make it without a generous sprinkling of ground black pepper, and a little bit of salt on the tomatoes, it’s just not right!
Locally grown, summer-fresh tomatoes are the best! I love them and can eat them on their own. But, they must have salt and pepper. The flavour of the tomato is so pronounced with just a little bit of seasoning. So, whenever I make the sandwich, salt and pepper much be included.
Now, there are some who argue that tomatoes, bread, and mayo is all you need. In contrast, there are those that argue the bread must be buttered after it is toasted, and before you apply the mayo. What side are you on? I’m on the side with the butter. While the mayo adds creaminess, the butter adds saltiness and softens the toasted bread just slightly. I use butter. You can omit it completely should you wish.
MAKING THE SANDWICH BETTER
I took a few liberties with the making of this sandwich. My goal was to elevate the flavour, while staying true to what the sandwich is at its core – simple. To elevate the flavour of any sandwich, all you need to do is change the condiments. In this case, it was the mayonnaise that I targeted.
Last week, I shared my recipe for my Creamy Avocado Spread. That’s exactly what I used on these Toasted Tomato Sandwiches! The flavour of the avocado, paired with the acidity of the cider vinegar, and the bite of the grainy mustard, made the most wonderful condiment. I knew my selection of tomatoes could stand up to it. And, I was right! The flavour of the spread accentuated the fresh tomatoes perfectly.
The only other thing I did was to use a variety of tomatoes rather than just the one kind. Whenever possible, I will use locally grown tomatoes. Where I live it’s easy to find tomatoes on the vine, beefsteak tomatoes, or heirloom tomatoes in the summer months. In the winter months, I will use roma tomatoes or cocktail tomatoes. They aren’t local in the winter months, but I like the flavour of those.
For this sandwich, I used tomatoes on the vine, which I sliced about quarter inch thick. I also used a variety of grape and cherry tomatoes, as well as some mini heirlooms. Lastly, I dropped on a few tomberries, which is a miniature tomato that’s even smaller than the popular cherry tomato. Sometimes, they can be hard to find, but they’re becoming more popular nowadays.
TOAST – DO IT RIGHT!
I’m that one person who makes you wait in line longer at a drive though, because I’m asking for my bagel to be double toasted. When it comes to toast, I prefer mine to be closer to burnt than browned. In my whole life, I’ve only met one other person who likes really well-done toast. In fact, there are many memes on the internet that poke fun at us that do!
We have a Breville Smart Toaster. If you open the link to see the photo, you will note that the slider on the bottom of the toaster goes up to five. When McKenna uses the toaster, she sets it to one. She loves toast that isn’t toasted at all. It’s just warmed! John.e will toast his bread at a three and a half. I slide it all the way across – as far to the right of the five as I can possibly get it! Why am I tell you this? Well, I do have a good reason.
When making a Toasted Tomato Sandwich, you will want to toast the bread just a little bit longer than you normally would. The reason is that you want the bread to stand up to the amount of ingredients you’re piling onto it. Mayonnaise and tomatoes are wet, and if you’re like me, and use butter, that’s even more moisture. The longer you toast your bread, the less risk of it becomes wet or moist.
In the photo below, which toast corresponds with how well you like your bread toasted? I like mine between the five and six, but much closer to six than five!
HERE’S WHAT YOU WILL NEED:
- Bread – Use a hearty bread, like this Bavarian Multi-grain Sourdough – you only need one slice per person, and it will hold a lot of tomatoes!
- Tomatoes – Use a variety of tomatoes. You will want maximum coverage, so use a lot – just under a pound per person.
- Butter – I always butter the toast. It’s more flavourful, but you can skip this if you wish.
- Mayonnaise – Hellmann’s mayo is my go-to; it’s always really good on a tomato sandwich. You can also use my Creamy Avocado Spread to jazz things up!
- Ground Black Pepper – I like a larger grind, and fresh ground is best.
- Salt – A good sea salt will work well. I used fleur de sel. It’s a finishing salt and is great for sprinkling over finished dishes. Since the mayo has salt in it, and sometimes, butter is salted, be finishing salt might be the best option. This is the one I use; it’s harvested right here in Canada.
- Basil – Fresh torn basil leaves add so much flavour to this sandwich. Tomatoes love basil!
HOW TO ASSEMBLE YOUR SANDWICH
First, toast your bread just a bit longer than you normally would. Remember, the tomatoes are wet and heavy; you will want the toast to stand up to it and not become soggy. Next, butter the toast. The butter is optional, but I can’t imagine eating a tomato sandwich without it!
Next, smear on your favourite mayonnaise, or you can use my Creamy Avocado Spread, like I did in the photographs you see. Layer on the tomatoes – be generous! Sprinkle over the ground black pepper and the salt to your liking. Lastly, tear a few basil leaves over the top.
Serve immediately. I like to serve this sandwich with a handful of kettle chips. If you’re feeling adventurous, I have a great recipe for homemade chips! Lastly, serve it with a nice, cold drink – like my homemade lemonade or my peach iced tea. Nothing can get more summery than that! Enjoy!
Toasted Tomato Sandwich
- 4 slices multi-grain sourdough bread, toasted to your liking
- 2 pounds tomatoes, use a variety of locally grown tomatoes, wash well, and sliced 1/4 inch thick
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 6-8 whole basil leaves
- First, toast the bread just a bit longer than you normally would. Remember, the tomatoes are wet and heavy; you will want the toast to stand up to it and not become soggy.
- Next, butter the toast. The butter is optional.
- Smear on your favourite mayonnaise, or you can use my Creamy Avocado Spread, like I did in the photographs you see.
- Layer on the tomatoes – be generous!
- Sprinkle over the ground black pepper and the salt to your liking.
- Lastly, tear a few basil leaves over the top.
- Serve immediately.