When it comes to tomato sandwiches, I take a pretty basic approach. Find the reddest, freshest, juiciest tomato of the bunch. Slice it. Take two pieces of wheat sandwich bread. Slather both with Hellman’s mayo. Layer on the tomato slices. Generously salt and pepper. Slap bread together, halve into triangles, and eat up.
These sandwiches have been the hallmark of my summers since childhood. In winter, sans a fresh tomato, I’d simply eat mayo sandwiches. This is why I’m a home cook with a bulging waistline.
Mike Lata’s approach, which is featured on Bon Appetit’s website, is much more refined and involves artisanal bread, olive oil, garlic cloves, fresh herbs, and a broiler. This is why he’s an award-winning chef with his own restaurant (FIG) and an avid fanbase.
I was excited to find the Bon Appetit feature since it offers 25 things to do with a fresh tomato with tips and tricks from some of the country’s best chefs, Lata included, and since I have a humongous bucket full of ripe ‘maters on my counter.
Last Friday, my mom headed out to a plot of land off Chisholm Road on Johns Island and picked three buckets worth of fresh tomatoes (click here for info on picking your own). Mom says, “It’s got to be a five-gallon bucket. It holds a hell of a lot of tomatoes.” Since she gave me my own bucket (which cost $20 each), I’ve eaten at least eight tomato sandwiches. I’m considering taking Lata’s advice and using the juice to soak the bread, but I just can’t let go of the mayo thing.
While I like all the ideas in Bon Appetit’s feature, here are my top three things to do with a fresh tomato: make aforementioned tomato sandwich, dig into fresh tomato like it’s an apple, cut fresh tomato into slices and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Sure, you can get all fancy, but a fresh tomato doesn’t need much to make it sing in your mouth.