Along with the copious amounts of zucchini now coming from 4 plants. (we really only need one, but I cannot seem to 'thin' the seedlings), the first wave of tomatoes is coming on hot and heavy. One of my favorite ways to indulge myself in summer is with a couple of slices of fresh-from-the-garden tomato on toast. Sounds simple, doesn't it? The beauty of it is, it can be as simple, or as complicated as you like.
Step One, make toast. Fresh bread will not hold up to a ripe slice of summer so well, so please toast to armor your bread against a juicy meltdown. The bread selection is key -- too soft and you'll end up wearing your bread, too hard and you'll break a tooth. My favorite of late is a miche from our neighborhood Wegman's bakery, a nice hearty sourdough, toasted lightly.
Step Two, choose a bread spread. It's for the additional barrier to the wet tomato and to elevate the flavor as well, you are shooting for Tomato Nirvana after all. Choose wisely, for while the correct spread will bring you life, the false spread will take it from you (apologies to the Grail Knight from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade). Mayo is the classic choice, Hellman's, Best Foods or your own homemade. Those are your only choices. And regular mayo please, no low fat, half fat, no fat ---eat the fat, every healthy diet includes some. Pesto is another classic choice, and fabulous in conjunction with mayo. Other less traditional, interesting choices include: olive tapenade, hummus, baba ganoush, smushed avocado or guacamole, Boursin, and since I am a relatively new transplant to The South, pimento cheese.
Step Three, adding a green. Could be a couple leaves of basil or arugula, a super thin slice of cucumber, a nicely crusted piece of baked zucchini or eggplant slices, any sort of lettuce. I even have a friend who loves roasted red peppers on her tomato sandwiches. If you would add it to a salad that includes tomatoes, you can add it to your sandwich.
Horizontal or vertical slices are acceptable, no wedgies, please. And they must be garden fresh, from yours or someone who lives within 25 miles of where you're eating them. It's a rule. Look it up.
And last but not least, Step Five, assemble. This is not a sandwich that you can wrap up and take to the beach. It must be assembled and eaten on site, in situ. Don't wait to eat this! If you do wait, get out a cutting board, place the sandwich on it, cut into 1" squares and toss in a salad bowl. You've waited out the sandwich and made panzanella, an Italian bread and tomato salad. Wasn't that easy? Only one piece of bread in the house? Serve your tomato sandwich open face and call it bruschetta (say 'bruce ketta' -- roll your rrrrr a little and pause on the t's for bit, you'll sound like a Roman).
Here are some of my favorite combinations and tricks:
- rub your toast with a fresh garlic clove (on the inside please)
- grill your bread instead of toasting, charcoal fire imparts a nice smokiness but even a gas grill adds a je ne sais quoi (spell check is having a fit with that one)
- tomato, pesto, fresh mozzarella
- tomato, mayo, slices of avocado and Vidalia onion, cracked black pepper
- a boring classic, but for a very good reason, it's freakin' delicious -- garlic rubbed toast, tomato, basil leaves, fleur de sel
- a cold rainy day in October favorite: toast your bread with a schmear of pimento cheese on top before assembling with your choice of tomato et al.
- my absolute favorite: multigrain toast, mayo, avocado, and Nueske's bacon (my top reason for omnivore-ism) with thick slices of Green Zebra tomato and White Cherry tomato relish, drizzled with The Reluctant Foodie's famous balsamic vinaigrette, lots of napkins, big dopey smile
Lately we've been doing our part to keep the watermelon growers of the South in business, and I'm wondering, would watermelon and feta work on a tomato sandwich, with perhaps a bit of mint and basil? Can I add Thai fish sauce to the mayo and finish with a bit of sriracha?? What kind of bread do I hunt down for that combo?? Maybe I'll start with the watermelon and feta...
What are some of your favorite tomato sandwich combos?