Doesn’t it seem like there’s something going on every weekend this summer? I mean, summer is always a busy time, especially here in LA were you can go crazy trying to choose between the hundreds of events going on, but for some reason this year seems even busier, with birthdays, picnics, festivals, weddings… There’s so much going on, it’s especially nice when I can carve out a couple hours of my Sunday morning to hit up the farmer’s market.
I’ve written about my love of the Hollywood Farmer’s Market before, but let me just tell you: if you are ever feeling uninspired by food, walk through a farmer’s market. The crowd is buzzing with conversations about what’s in season, the farmers who are growing something interesting, and what people are cooking up tonight. Especially in the summer, the cheer and optimism of the crowd perfectly echoes the brightly colored bounty of the season.
Among the highlights from my trip were a few gorgeously chunky and misshapen heirloom tomatoes, a bounty of fresh herbs and some wonderful, not-too-dense sourdough. I had the building blocks for a perfect summer sandwich.
There are a couple of key things to remember about making a tomato sandwich (or a BLT, which one can argue is more about the tomato than the bacon. Or at least, it should be.) Tomatoes are very juicy, so it’s important to choose a sturdy tomato. That’s why heirlooms work so well. Beefsteaks are nice, too. When it’s time to prep your sandwich, I like to keep my tomato slices around 1/4 inch thick, and lay the slices flat on a layer of paper towels while my bread toasts. I don’t want to lose a ton that juicy flavor, but I can’t deal with a drippy sandwich.
You also need to realize that a sandwich with so few ingredients relies heavily on the quality of those ingredients. If you have a fancy flavored salt, this is the time to use it. Use freshly ground black pepper, not those pencil shavings you buy in the red and white tin box. Same goes for the herbs. Dried won’t really do the trick here, so if you don’t have fresh, just leave them out entirely.
I used 1/4 cup of mayo, about 3 tablespoons of chopped fresh herbs and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. I chose dill and chives for a delicate grassy, oniony flavor and some chopped watercress leaves for a peppery bite. And because I love it, I added a little dollop of Dijon mustard. Now, 1/4 cup is a little too much mayo for one sandwich (at least for my preference) but any less is too little to get a nice mix going. And I don’t mind having a smear leftover for the next meal.
As for the bread, I picked up some lovely, almost fluffy sourdough and gave it a light golden toast. I spread on a little of the mayo, layered on the tomato, gave the slices a quick sprinkle of salt and a couple of grinds of fresh black pepper.
I served it alongside some leftover quinoa salad from yesterday’s beach picnic and a tall glass of iced tea.
Heirloom Tomato Sandwich with Herb Mayo
If you have some really good, thick-sliced bacon on hand, it would be beautiful on this sandwich. If you plan on making the sandwich ahead, such as for a picnic, do not salt the tomatoes; they will break down and become watery.
1 small heirloom tomato
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
1 tablespoon chopped fresh watercress leaves
(Or 3 tablespoons chopped herbs of your choice)
Freshly ground black pepper
2 slices bread
2 slices cooked bacon (optional)
Slice tomato crosswise into 1/4 inch slices. Lay slices on a double layer of paper towels, flipping once. Toast bread if desired. In a small bowl, mix mayo, herbs and a sprinkle of salt and pepper to taste. Spread mayo on both sides of bread, layer on tomatoes slices and sprinkle slightly with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Top with bacon slices if using.