Plump, ripe tomatoes are one of the surest signs of summer. The Forsyth Farmers market here in Savannah has had vendors with all manner of multi-colored orbs ranging from small single-bite tomatoes to those the size of soft balls. Friends of mine recently visited a u-pick farm where they could pick 5 gallon buckets for just $8/bucket. Their offer to pick some for me sent my mind into a whirlwind of tomato ideas….canned tomatoes, salsa, green tomato chutney, green tomato soup, the green tomato cobbler I created for my new Low Country cooking class, and many many more. Regretfully, I had to succumb to reality and decline the offer as I knew that I wasn’t going to have the time to spend prepping, cooking, and canning. My freezer was just beginning to breath a sigh of relief from a recent cleaning, and as much as I enjoy eating them sliced and simply seasoned, I just couldn’t see myself eating a full 5 gallon bucket in a reasonable amount of time. I did however manage to get a few of the ripe beauties to enjoy on their own.
Summertime in Savannah is a slow season. The heat and humidity brings everyone to a much slower pace. Appetites aren’t as hearty and the desire to heat up the kitchen decreases in direct correlation to the rising mercury. One sure bet however is that summer entertaining will most likely involve tomato sandwiches. Whether they be dainty cut-outs of bread slathered with Duke’s mayonnaise (which I had never heard of until I moved here but quickly found was as revered in the south as Hellman’s is in the North), or whether it’s a heartier full-size sandwich, tomato sandwiches fit the bill for a light summertime lunch or light bite for an evening on the porch or patio with friends.
Savannah Tomato Sandwiches with Pecan Mayonnaise
Rare is the occasion that a party hostess in Savannah does not serve these familiar and popular sandwiches!
While they are traditionally simply made with white bread, mayonnaise (Duke’s brand is a favorite of the south), and fresh tomatoes…these have been dressed up with the addition of a pecan mayonnaise. Use roma tomatoes for round slices perfect for small finger sandwiches. Cut the bread rounds with a cutter approximately the same size as the tomato.
Yield: 24 Finger sandwiches
½ cup mayonnaise
¼ cup pecan pieces
½ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
3 cloves garlic, minced
Combine all ingredients in a food processor until blended and smooth.
3-4 large ripe tomatoes
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
12 slices white sandwich bread, preferably thin-sliced (Pepperidge Farm brand is perfect)
Slice tomatoes about ½” thick. Lay tomato slices on a plate and season with salt and black pepper.
Spread bread slices with a thin layer of pecan mayonnaise. Overlap tomato slices on 6 of the bread slices, covering completely. Top the tomatoes with the remaining bread slices. Carefully trim off crusts and cut sandwiches diagonally into 4 triangles each. Arrange on a serving platter or if preparing in advance, drape with moistened paper towels and cover with plastic wrap before refrigerating. Allow to warm to room temperature before serving.
Variation: Chopped fresh basil can be scattered over the sliced tomatoes before covering with the top layer of bread.[/print_this]