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One of summer’s simple pleasures is that first bite of a tomato sandwich: the softness of the bread gives way to the juiciness of ripe tomato slices, which mingles with a generous slathering of mayonnaise. It’s a messy bite, to be sure, but a little juice running down your arm is the sign of a well-made sandwich.

Photo: Lauren V. Allen

Our TMT (tomato, mayo, toast; an acronym we first encountered via Serious Eats) “recipe” is a humble, three-ingredient foundation that leaves you with plenty of options for tweaking. But there’s an important step to achieving that alchemy of texture and flavor: We quickly toast one side of each slice of bread in a cast iron skillet—as if searing a steak (though not a bread steak!)—then build the sandwich with the toasted sides facing inwards, which adds a light crunch and prevents soggy bread while still retaining the softness that separates a TMT from a BLT sans bacon and lettuce.

Before getting to the recipe, let’s break down each vital element:

Bread

Follow your heart when choosing the leavened platform for this minimalist sandwich. Some prefer snow-white sandwich bread, while others opt for wheat, multigrain, or sourdough. Just make sure your bread is soft and not too crusty, or it will ruin the textural magic that is a tomato sandwich.

Tomatoes

Not much room for improvisation here. A good sandwich tomato is large, ripe, and tastes like summer—you’ll know when you find one. Taste your tomato before you commit it to the sandwich; if it doesn’t meet expectations, use it to make a pan con tomate. Also, don’t salt the tomatoes ahead of time, which will just pull out their juice—and flavor. Salting just before you finish the sandwich will ensure a peak tomato experience.

Mayonnaise

Mayo might be the third rail of condiments, but we’re not afraid to take a stand. Homemade mayonnaise is the best, as you can tweak your recipe to your liking (we add an extra squirt of lemon or vinegar, and sometimes grated garlic). A close second place is Duke’s (which is more acidic than other brands) or Hellmann’s (aka Best Foods). Whichever you choose, slather lavishly.

Add-Ons

While we usually stick to the most basic formula, TMTs are a great opportunity to experiment, so long as you don’t lose sight of the core trifecta. Some favorite add-ons include: shaved onion, basil leaves, chopped chives, ground sumac, sesame seeds, and chile crunch.

Recipe: TMT (Tomato, Mayonnaise, and Toast) Sandwich

Yield: 1 serving

Instructions

1.

Preheat a Field Skillet over medium heat for a few minutes. Meanwhile, brush 1 side of each slice of bread lightly with mayonnaise. When the skillet is hot, add the bread, mayo-side down, and cook until golden brown and crisp on the bottom, 1 to 2 minutes.

2.

Transfer the bread to a plate, toasted-side up, and let cool for a couple of minutes. Add a generous slather of mayo to one of the toasted sides. Season the tomato slices liberally with salt and pepper, then pile the tomato on one slice of bread. Top with the remaining slice of bread (both toasted sides should be facing inwards) and eat right away.

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