Summer’s most iconic sandwich—voluptuous tomato slices heaped between slices of toasted, mayo-slicked white bread—seems a straightforward, simple pleasure. But don’t let its modest appearance fool you. This juicy, drippy stack actually pulls off a delicate culinary balancing act: The bread offers crunch that contrasts with the tomato’s softness; the richness of the mayo complements the acidity of the fruit; and the brilliant red slices at the center of it all are at once juicy, sweet, tart, meaty, and savory.
Achieving this tomato sandwich harmony is an effortless feat when you’ve got lush, toast-of-the-farmers’-market tomatoes. However, there’s no need to spend the whole summer holding out for those flawless fruits. At this time of the year, many tomato varieties have sandwich potential—some just need a little boost to achieve that perfect balance of crunch; richness; and bright, fruity acidity.
Here, vine-ripened tomatoes get an infusion of juicy tang from a vinegar marinade, petite cherry tomatoes become concentrated and tender after a stint under the broiler, and even peak-season field tomatoes are enhanced with seasonings that make their flavors pop. By pairing each with strategically chosen breads and other complementary ingredients, you’ll expand your tomato sandwich repertoire—which means you can snack on sandwiches no matter what kind you have on hand.
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Field and Heirloom Tomatoes: Griddled Tomato Sandwiches
THE TOMATO TREATMENT: A simple sprinkle of salt, sugar, pepper, and acidic cream of tartar
THE BREAD: Sliced, griddled sandwich bread
THE EXTRAS: A rich swath of mayonnaise
This sandwich needs no introduction: There are no better companions for a juicy heap of peak-season field tomato slices than white sandwich bread and a swath of mayonnaise. Here, we've perfected the classic by enhancing the tomatoes' flavor with a simple sprinkle of salt, sugar, pepper, and cream of tartar (an acidic ingredient that boosts brightness). The sandwich bread is griddled on one side, adding delicate, but lingering exterior crunch while preserving the soft, moist interior.
Griddled Tomato SandwichesAny tomato can star in a sandwich— if you know how to play to its strengths.
Vine-Ripened Tomatoes: Marinated Tomato Sandwiches
THE TOMATO TREATMENT: A seasoned sriracha-vinegar marinade
THE BREAD: A toasted, craggy English muffin
THE EXTRAS: Rich avocado, earthy alfalfa sprouts, and peppery watercress
The major perk of vine-ripes? They're evenly sized, which means they make neat stacks (no tomato slippage here). They also have balanced flavor and are moderately juicy, playing well with bolder ingredients.
To tenderize these tomatoes and punch up their mild flavor, all that's needed is a brief steep in a seasoned vinegar-sriracha marinade. Stacking the marinaded slices on craggy, toasted English muffins helps to catch any excess juices, and mashed avocado provides some richness to contrast with the tomatoes' tang. Finally, a layer of earthy alfalfa sprouts further prevented the layers of tomato from slipping. You've never made a tomato sandwich this neat—or this vibrant.
Marinated Tomato SandwichesAny tomato can star in a sandwich— if you know how to play to its strengths.
Cherry Tomatoes: Open-Faced Cherry Tomato Ricotta Sandwiches
THE TOMATO TREATMENT: An 8-10 minute broil
THE BREAD: Thick slabs of rustic bread
THE EXTRAS: A honey-mustard-miso dressing and a layer of ricotta
Cherry tomatoes might not be the first variety you reach for when you're in the mood for a tomato sandwich—but they shouldn't be overlooked. These petite spheres are standouts after a stint under the broiler: In the high heat, their acidity, sweetness, and meaty texture concentrates, and they collapse, allowing them to fit snugly atop a thick slab of rustic bread. A honey-mustard-miso dressing punches up the tomatoes' flavor even further, and a bed of milky ricotta completes the open-faced sandwich, providing a rich contrast to the cherries' brightness.