The Tomato Sandwich Perfected

Melissa Clark, The New York Times  |  Updated: July 14, 2017 12:00 IST

The Tomato Sandwich Perfected
When tomatoes are in season, you can’t do better than a simple tomato sandwich. But what kind of tomato sandwich are you going to make? Do you want a classic brawny BLT? A dainty tomato and sweet onion tea sandwich on slivers of buttered white bread? A garlicky Catalan pan con tomate dripping with olive oil?

Usually I fall into a rut, making the same sandwich all summer long. I’ve gone through all of the above in tomato seasons gone by.

This year, I stole bits and pieces from all three and reassembled them into a Frankenstein-like whole, albeit a delicious one.

The base of the sandwich is the pan con tomate. I rub slices of toasted, hearty country bread with raw garlic and then with the pulpy guts of an extremely ripe tomato. Good olive oil and flaky sea salt gild the top. This sandwich, a classic in Spain, makes an excellent lunch on its own, or when you top it with a little Serrano ham.

But in my version, I raise the ante by adding more tomatoes, in the form of some thin slices, along with strands of tangy sweet onion. This is the tea sandwich part.

Lastly, from the BLT, there’s the bacon, of course, though half the time I don’t bother because the sandwich is so good without it.

The mayonnaise is essential here. Use a regular brand of store-bought mayo in a jar, nothing fancy or homemade, or you won’t get the proper sweetness to soften the sandwich’s garlicky bite.

You’ll need two tomatoes for this sandwich, one of which needs to be ripe but still firm enough to slice. The other should be that overripe tomato that’s practically collapsing onto your counter. That’s the one to rub all over the bread. It may look past its prime, but a slightly overripe tomato can have great flavor; this is a terrific place to showcase it.A word of caution: This is easily the messiest sandwich I’ve ever made. And while you could eat it carefully over a plate, standing over the kitchen sink is more convenient for catching the splattering juices. And you can rinse off your fingers right after you’re done licking them. With tomatoes that good, you won’t be able to resist.

Tomato Sandwiches

Time: 10 minutes

Yield: 2 servings


4 slices crusty country bread

1 fat garlic clove, halved crosswise

1 ripe and soft tomato, halved

Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling

Flaky sea salt

Mayonnaise, as needed

1 ripe but firm tomato, sliced

Thinly sliced white onion

4 slices cooked bacon (optional)


1. Toast the bread. Take each slice and rub one side all over with the cut side of the garlic clove. (The clove should start to disintegrate into the bread.) Rub each slice with the cut sides of the soft halved tomato, pressing so the tomato flesh sticks to the bread. Drizzle bread with oil, then sprinkle with salt.

2. Spread mayonnaise over the tomato pulp. Place the sliced tomatoes on top of 2 pieces of the bread. Cover tomato slices with onions and sprinkle with salt. Top with bacon if using, then use the other 2 slices of tomato-rubbed bread to make sandwiches. Eat over the sink.

Comments© 2015 New York Times News Service

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