I’ve been waiting patiently all summer for the arrival of tomatoes in our CSA box. Several weeks ago we received one lone quart, followed by a couple disappointing weeks without, and finally last week we got three quarts of gorgeous multicolored tomatoes: brick red, yellow, purple. As I sliced into these beauties, still gloriously warm from being in the sun, the smell of vine and earth still lingering on their skins, juice covered my cutting board. I knew exactly what I was making.
I can remember being young and my mom teaching me how to make a tomato sandwich in our kitchen in New Hope, Pennsylvania. For this purpose, Mom set aside the 7-grain crunchy bread filled with nuts and seeds and pulled out thick slices of good quality white. “Why?”, I asked. Because the simple, white bread let the tomato flavor shine. Lightly toasted white bread, slathered with mayonnaise, and topped with several slices of salted tomato and freshly ground black pepper was really one of the best flavor combinations I had ever tasted as a kid. I distinctly remember marveling that something so simple could taste so good.
I’ve mentioned this special sauce before, but as Mom and I made the first tomato sandwiches of the summer, I realized that adding basil to the sandwich sauce I learned to make at a pub in Farnborough, England, would thrust this tomato sandwich into another stratosphere. Creamy mayonnaise mixed with tangy dijon and spiked with finely grated onion and chopped basil. These flavors complement the lush tomatoes and crunchy bread perfectly. This was, in fact, the best ever open-faced tomato sandwich I’d ever had. And I wanted to share it with you.
The Best Ever Tomato Sandwich
Makes 8 sandwiches, serving 4
If you can’t find multi-colored tomatoes in different sizes, six medium tomatoes of any color plus a few cherry tomatoes will work just fine.
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon whole grain mustard
1/4 red onion, finely grated
1/4 cup chopped basil, plus extra leaves for garnish
8 slices good quality white bread
2 medium-large tomatoes
4 medium tomatoes
Handful cherry tomatoes
Salt and pepper
Mix mayonnaise, mustard, onion, and basil in a small bowl; set aside.
Meanwhile toast bread and slice tomatoes, sprinkling them with salt and pepper. Spread a generous portion of sauce on each slice of bread, top with tomato slices, garnish with basil and serve.