I know I said I was cutting back on the midnight snacks, but hey — at least it’s not cheese. There aren’t many things I like about summer; I’m a cool-weather kind of girl. Summer’s redeeming virtue, though, is the availability of tomatoes. I know that you can buy “tomatoes” year-round, but I refuse to eat them. They’re mealy, pasty, and taste of nothing, a pale ghost of real tomatoes picked ripe and in season.
You can imagine my dismay, this year, at the general failure of the tomato crops. The weather’s been too cool here for them to thrive. But I spend 9 months of the year dreaming of tomatoes, and so when some appear that at least smell like tomatoes, I buy them. The first batch are eaten out of hand, like apples, with a little salt; after waiting so long, I need the unadulterated flavor. After that’s passed, I can start using them for other things. Salsa (which, if you have a hand blender or food processor, is completely trivial to make at home), BLTs, and other raw applications come first, and only near the end of tomato season can I bring myself to start canning tomato sauce.
This year’s tomatoes haven’t yet been good enough to match my anticipation, so I’ve moved fairly quickly into the sandwich phase. I do like BLTs, but who wants to fry bacon at midnight? Well, a lot of people, but not me, not tonight. My grandpa used to make a sort of spinoff on the BLT: Cook overripe tomatoes in leftover bacon grease and eat them on toast. That’s one of those Depression-era Appalachian recipes everyone should know in these belt-tightening times.
But tonight I turned to simple tomatoes on toast. The reason BLTs are so good, in my opinion, is the saltiness and crunch of the bacon playing off the acidic sweetness and soft, melting texture of the tomatoes. So this sandwich, which features crisp toast, a little mayonnaise, tomatoes, and salt does pretty well for a fix.
Tomatoes on Toast
To begin, obviously, you need toast, and you need tomatoes. I am somewhat ashamed to admit that the bread depicted here is Aunt Millie’s Butter Top, but in this application, it works. Slice the tomatoes, and spread a thin layer of mayonnaise on each of two pieces of toast (this keeps the juicy tomatoes from un-crisping it).
Tomatoes meet toast, and are greeted with a liberal dose of kosher salt. Whatever you do, please don’t use iodized salt here; purity of flavor is 90 percent of the appeal. Top with the other piece of bread, cut into quarters (nearly every toast-based sandwich is better cut into quarters), and eat.