By Nancy Eisman
August is that special month when end-of-summer vacations are taken, families are getting kids ready to go back to school, and more tomato sandwiches are made and enjoyed than at any other time of year.
Back in the day you took 2 slices of Wonder bread, or another very white bread, spread on some mayo or Miracle whip, added sliced beefsteak tomatoes with a sprinkle of salt, slapped it together, and enjoyed its perfect simplicity.
This quintessential summer sandwich is still awesome in its classic configuration, but culinary evolution has brought us a plethora of tomato varieties to choose from, not to mention how far more better tasting our bread choices are today. Yes, the beefsteak is still great, but so are the Early Girl, Roma, San Marzano, Cherry, Grape, Yellow, Orange, Green, etc., etc. And heirloom varieties, too numerous to mention, in their irregular sizes and colors, including babies, have upped and changed the tomato sandwich game forever.
Once I started imagining the ultimate 2017 tomato sandwich I knew I couldn’t stop at sliced fresh tomatoes only. That’s where I started, but then I thought since summer grilling is in full swing why not include a few nicely charred slices of grilled green tomatoes. Taking mayo to another level was a no brainer, adding Sun Dried Tomatoes in olive oil with a pinch of Hatch chile to create a creamy aioli. I couldn’t stop there, so I turned some fresh San Marzanos into a quick tomato jam for the other slice of bread. No Wonder bread to see here, but instead fresh ciabatta brushed with olive oil and grilled until toasty and smoky.
If you think I’ve gone too far with this tomato mania then just use my ideas to craft your own Summer Tomato Sandwich. Simple like the old days, multi-faceted as presented here or something in between, you can’t go wrong. P.S. Be sure to have a napkin handy to catch the delicious drips!
Tomato Sandwich Supreme
3 green tomatoes, sliced ¼” thick
1 large loaf Ciabatta bread, sliced in half horizontally, then into 4 pairs
Extra virgin olive oil for brushing
2-3 medium-large heirloom tomatoes (my fave is the Pineapple variety)
½ cup Vegenaise or mayo
4 Sun Dried Tomatoes in olive oil
Pinch of Hatch chile powder
Pinch of salt
1 lb. San Marzano tomatoes, diced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon white pepper
½ tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon fresh orange juice
To make the Tomato Jam, combine all the ingredients in a pan over medium heat for 3-4 minutes while crushing tomatoes with a wooden spoon. Turn heat down to a simmer and continue cooking 30 minutes or until jam thickens. Adjust seasoning and juice if necessary. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature.
To make the Tomato Aioli, puree the sun dried tomatoes in a food processor. Add the mayo and seasonings and process again. Set aside.
To grill the green tomatoes and ciabatta, brush with olive oil and place on the grill for about 3-4 minutes on each side for the tomatoes and just the open side for the bread.
To assemble the 4 sandwiches, spread the jam on one side and the aioli on the other. Add the grilled green tomato and fresh heirloom tomato slices, bring both sides together, and enjoy.