Red Alert: The Ideal Tomato Sandwich Might Just Be One That Is Deconstructed

Since you can only put one, maybe two, tomato slices in a sandwich, I came up with a deconstructed version to increase my intake in one sitting.

We didn’t have a big garden when I was growing up, but we always grew tomatoes. I learned early on that nothing tastes like a ripe, homegrown tomato. Here in the Pacific Northwest, tomato season is short—typically a few glorious weeks from late August into early September. While these days climate change means I’m eating tomatoes from my sunny, south-facing driveway garden by late July, we’ve still got a narrow window.

During that time, I try to eat as many tomatoes as I can, and since you can only put one, maybe two, in a sandwich, I came up with a deconstructed version to increase my tomato intake in one sitting: a plate of several sliced tomatoes drizzled with olive oil, dusted with flaky salt, and accompanied by a big dollop of mayonnaise along with a few slices of grilled or toasted bread—usually a crusty, rustic loaf.

Lately I’ve tweaked my approach. A wide, wooden bowl holds more tomatoes. And while I still love an airy, rustic slice, the classic tomato sandwich uses soft white industrial bread. I can’t bring myself to buy a squishy loaf of Wonder Bread, but the buttery, soft Sally Lunn from Portland’s Little T Baker—its tall, square loaves baked in Pullman pans—is better anyway. And given the area’s numerous amazing bakeries, there are many more similar breads to choose from. If I’ve got a lot of tomatoes, I may use both types, and more often skillet-grilled in olive oil than toasted.

I choose the best, ripest tomatoes from my garden, the farmers market or, in a pinch, the dry-farmed Early Girls you might find in better produce departments. They get cut into bite-sized pieces, put in the bowl, drizzled with olive oil, sprinkled with flaky salt and share the bowl with a dollop of Duke’s mayo. I grab my grilled bread, a fork and start eating.

Deconstructed Tomato Sandwich

4-6 medium tomatoes (or as many as you can eat)

3-4 slices of your favorite bread, toasted or grilled

2-3 tablespoons mayo, preferably Duke’s

2-3 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

Flaky salt to taste

Grill the bread in olive oil until nicely browned, or toast the bread to your liking. Arrange on a plate and drizzle with olive oil. Cut the tomatoes into bite-sized pieces, put them in a bowl, add the mayo and a good drizzle of olive oil, and sprinkle with flaky salt. Toss gently. Take a bite of tomatoes followed by a bite of bread. Repeat as needed.

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