Now that tomatoes are finally at their zenith here in the northeast, P. and I have been indulging in an old-fashioned, can't-be-improved-upon classic: just-off-the-vine tomato sandwiches. This year on the farm we have a smorgasbord of marvelous heirloom varieties and rainbow cultivars with names almost as colorful as their flesh, like Cherokee purple, Brandywine, black krim, green zebra, Mr. Stripy- the list goes on and on (as do the garden pests that have discovered these ripening beauties, but never mind).
The key to a memorable tomato sandwich is, of course, locally-grown, just-picked tomats (i.e. forget the ethylene-ripened ones from the grocery store) and really good bread. After making these puppies probably a dozen times over the past two weeks I decided thinly-sliced rye from our local bakery is the way to go, but a bosomy sourdough boule is a close second. Good ole' Hellmann's mayonnaise (or Best Foods if you're west of the Rockies) adds a hint of lemony sweetness that subtly boosts the flavor of the tomatoes, and don't be shy with the salt and pepper. (Fleur de sel, although pricey, is absolutely worth the investment; you wouldn't put diesel fuel in a Ferrari, so why put cheapo table salt on your heirloom tomatoes. Am I right? I'm right.) I know this is incredibly simple, but DAMN, I wouldn't waste your time if it weren't worth sharing. So go forth, get thee some Brandywines, and maketh this sandwich.
Perfect Heirloom Tomato Sandwich
Let late-summer heirloom tomatoes steal the show, but be generous with the salt and pepper. Eat while the toast is still warm.
ripe heirloom tomatoes
fresh bread, thinly sliced and lightly toasted (I love rye or sourdough for this sandwich)
good mayonnaise (Hellmann's or Best Foods, or if you make your own all the power to you)
freshly-ground black pepper
fleur de sel (or other fancy finishing salt)
While bread toasts, slice tomatoes. Spread mayonnaise thinly over both pieces of bread, layer one side with tomato slices, sprinkle abundantly with salt and pepper. Top with second slice of bread, cut in half. Serve immediately. Bon Appétit!