It’s tomato sandwich season: Recipes to make the most of the juicy summer produce

Nothing quite says summer in the food world like tomato
season. Whether it’s homegrown picked and eaten straight off the vine, or a perfectly plump, juicy farmers market find, the fruit commonly misidentified as a vegetable is the perfect summertime ingredient.

While the current growing season has been a bit off in some areas around the U.S., the vibrant fruits are finally at their peak, which to many chefs and home cooks signals the start of something delicious — tomato sandwiches.

PHOTO: A cross-section of a thick-cut tomato sandwich on fresh focaccia bread.


A cross-section of a thick-cut tomato sandwich on fresh focaccia bread.

The humble seasonal sandwich has a longstanding culinary history that predates the advent of social media, but food TikTok has been eating up the no-cooking-required summer staple with over 28.4 million views of “tomato sandwich” videos.

Tips to make the best tomato sandwich

The easy, savory, seasonal treat can be customized entirely to your liking, from the bread to the variety of tomatoes and toppings, all of which make this simple sandwich such a hit.

As a definitive authority in the tomato toast and sandwich space, Dan “Grossy” Pelosi shared his tips and tricks to construct the perfect bite.

Pelosi first chimed in on the “tomato girl summer” trend earlier this month, writing on Instagram, “Glad everyone caught up with us!”

While the culinary creator and “Let’s Eat”
author said “there are a million ways to make it” he shared a few of his favorites with “GMA” below.

How to pick, slice and season your tomato properly

PHOTO: Sliced tomatoes on a cutting board.

Grossy Pelosi

Sliced tomatoes on a cutting board.

Tomato season runs through October and there are endless varieties to choose from, so while beefsteak and heirloom tend to be the most popular picks, Pelosi said “there is no wrong choice here, just grab whichever tomato smells the sweetest and makes you smile.”

When it comes to slicing the tomato, Pelosi suggests using a serrated knife — like a bread knife — to get a clean cut. Then go for whatever thickness feels right for your preference.

Most importantly, season the tomato. By properly salting the tomato, it will draw out the natural juices and bring them to the surface to enhance the natural flavor.

“It also activates your saliva, making sure you taste every bit of that sweet tomato flavor. I like to use sea salt for this, as it adds a nice crunch,” Pelosi wrote in his
Guide to Tomato Mayo Toast

Best bread for tomato sandwiches and toast

“You really have to consider the bread, mayo and tomato and all of their different personalities coming together in one bite. How sweet is your tomato? How dry is your bread? How much mayo do you need to balance out the sweetness of the tomato and the texture of the bread?” he said. “It’s an easy combo, so don’t overthink it, but don’t be afraid to try new ways to change it up as well.”

When it comes to making the classic sandwich style, Pelosi told “GMA” he prefers “a softer sandwich bread, like a classic white bread or a brioche” that’s “perfect for a nice two-hander sandwich.”

“For a toast, I like something thicker with a nice crust, like sourdough, that can be stable when I hold the toast with one hand for a bite,” he explained.

Why mayonnaise is the perfect condiment for tomatoes

“Tomatoes are sweet and juicy, which pairs perfectly with the tanginess and creaminess of mayo,” Pelosi said. “It’s a perfect sweet and savory combo and truly a match made in heaven.”

That said, there are plenty of home cooks who enjoy other spreads and toppings beyond the traditional base.

“I switch things up all the time, whether its adding herbs, garlic, lemon juice or hot sauce — or all at the same time — into the mayo,” Pelosi said. Sometimes, he’ll even swap out mayo for something totally different like “cottage cheese, cream cheese, whipped feta, ricotta or anything spreadable that makes me happy.”

Teri Lyn Fisher and Jenny Park, the food photographer and stylist duo behind the popular recipe Instagram SpoonForkBacon, shared their favorite way to jazz up a thick-cut tomato sandwich with “GMA,” below.

1/2 cup mayonnaise (our favorite brand is Best Foods)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 small garlic clove, grated
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 large, ripe tomatoes (heirloom or beefsteak), sliced into 1/2-inch thick slices
2 large pieces of focaccia, sliced in half crosswise
Fresh basil leaves, optional

In a small bowl combine mayo, 1 tablespoon oil, garlic, lemon juice, and some cracked pepper. Whisk together then add an additional tablespoon of oil, if needed, depending on flavor and texture.

Smear garlic mayo over sliced focaccia pieces. Top two slices of focaccia with tomato slices. Season tomatoes with salt and pepper.

Top tomatoes with basil leaves (if using) and gently press remaining focaccia slices over tomatoes. Slice sandwiches in half and serve.

Additional tomato sandwich tips:

When it comes to the main ingredient, Fisher said to “look for tomatoes with a deep color, not faded, that are firm, but not rock hard and that emit a sweet scent.”

While these two prefer Duke’s mayo, Fisher said, “If you can’t find that, we like to dress up mayo with some olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper. It just gives it a little something extra.”

As for the bread, they added, “We like a soft white or focaccia — the fresher the better.”

Other tomato sandwich recipe variations

Tomato sandwiches are a classic and popular summertime recipe.

ABC News Photo Illustration, Getty Images, Dan Pelosi

Tomato sandwiches are a classic and popular summertime recipe.

The BLT sandwich is essentially just a glorified version of a tomato sandwich, with the addition of crunchy bacon and lettuce. It’s another summertime classic for good reason.

Private chef and Wishbone Kitchen creator Meredith Hayden, who regularly shares her recipes and cooking techniques on TikTok and Instagram, posted her BBLT recipe, which consists of perfectly salted thick sliced tomatoes, bacon, lettuce and fresh basil.

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