“The Alabama tomato is truly a wonder. It takes on the color of the deep, red soil and the taste borders somewhere between sweet and tart. I grew up eating these tomatoes straight out of my grandparents’ garden in Florence, Alabama, and after having lived away from home and in Europe for over 20 years, I still think Alabama tomatoes are the best in the world.” – an excerpt from Natalie’s essay “What Does Planting Tomatoes Have to Do With Fashion?” featured in Earth Pledge White Papers by Leslie Hoffman. (Read an entry on Future Fashion (2007) from our 21 Years project.)

Read the entire essay here. And read below to learn how to make the perfect sandwich with these wondrous tomatoes. 

Here’s what you’ll need.   


The perfect tomato sandwich tomato is a juicy, meaty variety that is good for slicing and picked fresh from the garden or your local farmers market. We love a good heirloom, and if you plan to grow your own, Baker Creek Heirloom has a wide selection. Slice it into thick slices and salt and pepper to taste.  


Tomato sandwiches are as notoriously messy as they are delicious and are often best eaten over the sink (or make sure you have plenty of napkins on hand). The two slices of bread will be of great assistance, soaking in the mingled juices from the tomato and mayonnaise. Some people prefer classic white bread; some wheat; some will toast theirs. At The Factory Café—our beloved, retired café and restaurant—we served our Heirloom BLT on house-made ciabatta. It’s all a matter of preference (and often what you have on hand).  


Another matter of preference, mayonnaise often creates a heated debate about which is the best. Our friends at The Bitter Southerner write about the “battle” between Duke’s and Blue Plate, two Southern brands. Making your own mayonnaise requires patience, skill, and often a little practice. Whether you make your own or buy from the store, be sure to slather both slices of bread. 

Our friend, chef, writer, and Indigo farmer Scott Peacock shares this homemade recipe. 

– from a recipe by Scott Peacock 

1 large egg yolk, at room temperature (very important)
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
3/4 cup olive
1 teaspoon white-wine vinegar or cider vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon pepper 

Blend with whisk attachment on a low speed the yolk, mustard, and 1/4 teaspoon salt until smooth. Add 1/4 cup oil drop by drop, blending constantly until mixture begins to thicken. Blend in vinegar and lemon juice, and add remaining 1/2 cup oil very slowly in a thin stream, blending constantly until well incorporated. If at any time it appears that oil is not being incorporated, stop adding oil and whisk mixture vigorously until smooth, then continue adding oil. Blend in salt to taste and white pepper. 

Mayonnaise keeps, covered and chilled, for 2 days. 

Mayonnaise recipe originally from ‘Tomato Sandwich Diet’ posted on July 16, 2010.  

Bacon and lettuce are optional—then it’s a BLT.

We like to keep it simple. Assemble, eat, and enjoy the taste of summer.  

Explore our Life + Sustainable Living collection for home goods, serving ware, kitchen textiles, and more.


P.S.: Here are more recipes from The Journal archives for ways to use those just-picked tomatoes.  

Tomatoes with Basil and Goat Cheese 

Serve with Buttermilk Herb Dressing 

Tomato Pizza 

Leftover Biscuit Tomato Pie 

Hot and Hot Tomato Salad from Chris Hastings’ Hot and Hot Fish Club Cookbook 


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Click to read 3 comments
  1. Francesca

    This gave me fond memories of my mother making mayonnaise, except she would never have used olive oil unless it were very mildly flavoured…. I live in Malta, and all I want to eat in summer is tomatoes. It must be something to do with heat and humidity! We used to have the most amazing tomatoes in Malta in summer, big, deep red and very very bumpy and bulgy. We called them flat tomatoes (tadam catt in Maltese). They disappeared forever maybe 10 years ago, victims of some bug. You can still get good ones, but nothing like those guys. They made the best hobz biz zejt, a traditional snack which requires red juicy tomatoes and our traditional bread, which is a sort of farmhouse style. You cut thick slices of bread, cut your tomato in half, and rub it on the bread. After you have a few slices nice and red and ready, you dunk.them red side down in a big plate where you’ve poured a generous pool of excellent EV olive oil , a dash of good.vinegar, salt and pepper and usually capers. And then eat this divine feast…. some people add torn basil or mint, and you can throw whatever you like on top when they’re ready like tuna, pickles whatever, but I’m a purist. Do try it….

  2. Lisa

    I agree Baker Creek has the best heirloom seeds. I enjoy attending their monthly festivals and have in the past set up a booth selling my quilts and other sewn items. If you are ever in the Ozarks look them up. Baker Creek is less than an hour from me and a short drive from Laura Ingalls Wilder museum and “little house on the prairie”. I agree tomatoes grown in red clay, like that of my grandparents in Mississippi, are the best for tomato sandwiches. This article brought back fond memories of tomato sandwiches that my grandma made.