~ Use your very best tomato and a fresh, grainy loaf of bread to create delicious magic in just minutes. This Open-Faced Tomato Sandwich is quick and simple but bursting with flavor and texture. Just 4 ingredients and 3 minutes – try it and see why I love it so very much! ~
This Recipe Is: • Ready in 30 Minutes or Less • Vegetarian •
You can taste summertime in each blissful, perfect bite.
Absolutely, deliciously beautiful in its pure simplicity.
This is what I crave as August and September offer up their long-awaited tomato bounty.
So Simple, So Perfect
Join me in imagining …
- Bakery-fresh, grainy bread, hearty and full of texture …
- Slathered with rich, tangy-herby cream cheese …
- Topped simply with the most amazing, garden-fresh tomato you can find …
- Then sprinkled with a crunchy hit of flaky fleur de sel (more about that later) and maybe some little bits of chive if you happen to have some growing in a nearby deck pot.
It’s shockingly good. So many textures and flavors from literally about 3 minutes of work. (Really – is that possible?) Yes, it’s truly that easy. Like, 3 minutes easy!
Which is especially wonderful during tomato season, because it means you have even more time to relax and play and soak up the last few, precious days of summer.
In fact, this might be one of the very most perfect summer foods. The poster child for sunshine and fresh veggies and the abundance of flavors that tumble into our kitchens from summertime gardens.
Aaaaaahhh … summer. Which brings us very specifically to:
When to Make This (And When NOT To)
Basically, you should only, only make this recipe when you have the very best ingredients. So, you pretty much need to wait for tomato season.
It’s hard to wait. Believe me – I feel that pain every year. But the wait is worth it.
This sandwich is allll about showcasing the perfect tomato.
So, exactly when do you make this? When that perfect tomato arrives. And only then. (Which means we’re probably talking late summertime in most parts of the U.S.)
And when should you absolutely NOT make this? Any other time. Any time your tomato is only kinda meh. Don’t bother. Disappointment awaits.
The Perfect Bread for This Open-Faced Sandwich
This is not one of those southern-style tomato sandwiches with mayo, that’s served up – diner-style – on cheap white bread, so it all ends up in one soft, smushy-juicy-creamy mouthful.
Nope – this is the exact opposite!
This open-faced sandwich is so much more interesting with the texture from a really great loaf of bakery-fresh bread, full of grains and seeds and maybe even bits of nuts. And definitely with a crisp-chewy crust.
The interplay of the really textural bread with the smooth cream cheese and the silky, juicy tomato and the crunchy hit of salt is … well, pretty much a little bite of summertime heaven.
But besides perfect tomato and perfect bread, you need just the right salt, too. With only a few ingredients going on here, you can’t skimp. Trust me – it’s worth it! So, the salt …
What is Fleur de Sel … and What Can You Substitute?
Flaky fleur de sel is a perfect finishing salt (you can do a deep dive into fleur de sel HERE, if you’re interested). It’s not meant to be used during the process of cooking a dish, but rather as a garnish, a final flourish of flavor and crunch. It also adds a lovely, craggy sparkle – almost like the glint of decorating sugar on a pretty dessert.
According to Wikipedia, the term “fleur de sel” translates to “flower of salt” in French. Fleur de sel has been collected since ancient times, from the “thin, delicate crust” that forms on the surface of seawater as it evaporates.
In this Tomato Sandwich recipe, it highlights the sweet simplicity of the tomato’s flavors.
The right amount of fleur de sel shouldn’t make your Tomato Sandwich taste overly salty. But it should add noticeable little hits of flavor-boosting, salty *kabam* that will really put this recipe over the top in a way that a sprinkling of regular table salt just can’t.
I got my little canister of fleur de sel from my dear sister-in-law, years ago, back before it was so easy to snag on places like Amazon. She’s a magnifient cook and savvy foodie, always finding little food treasures to share. I’ve carefully guarded that prized container, slowly doling out fleur de sel for only the very best of reasons, hoarding it as a special luxury.
Now, though, it’s relatively easy to scout out fleur de sel in typical stores. And, when I peeked at Amazon for you, to see if I could just offer up a quick and easy way to get some fleur de sel to magically appear on your doorstep … well, looky there – the exact brand of fleur de sel I love, and Amazon is happy to bring you your very own little canister!
So, check for fleur de sel in the spice section of your grocery store, or certainly in a high-end specialty market. Or, of course, on Amazon. (And feel free to use it with reckless, delicious abandon, since you can always easily order some more!)
If you can’t find it or need a quick alternative, go for a large-grained, flaky salt like maldon sea salt, flake kosher salt or sel gris (“gray salt”). While fleur de sel arguably has a unique panache, similarly coarse-grained salts will at least get you pretty close.
But I’d definitely skip fine-grained salts like common table salt. Just not the same at all.
How to Change Up Your Tomato Sandwich
It’s hard to mess with utter perfection. But, I love to improvise and personalize recipes, and I certainly want you to feel empowered to do that, too.
So, here are a few ideas you can play around with, to find your own, personal summertime tomato happy place.
Different Tomato Varieties
For different flavor profiles, try using different kinds of tomatoes. Honestly, I think lusciously juicy, red varieties are my favorite for this particular Tomato Sandwich. Quintessentially tomato-y.
But there are so many fantastic heirloom varieties, from sweet to tart – use whatever you love best. Or, mix and match like we did in our photos!
Oh my goodness. Goat cheese. Love the stuff. And its nutrition profile isn’t drastically different than reduced-fat cream cheese. But honestly, I rarely have it just hanging around aimlessly in the fridge (unless I happen to be making our super-popular Salad with Goat Cheese, of course!).
So, what do I tend to reach for when someone hands me a stunning tomato that needs to be made into this open-faced sandwich? Yep – I reach for that cream cheese, which is already studded with herbs to save me the time of mixing them in.
But hey – if you have some tangy-creamy goat cheese on hand, you won’t be disappointed, either! Just be sure to toss in a few minced chives and very finely minced onion or garlic, to reclaim the flavor found in herbed cream cheese.
Maybe Add Some Meat
Ok, I’m just going to toss this idea to you, even though I’m sort of conflicted about it. I truly love this Tomato Sandwich in all its absolute simplicity. But I know some of you will enjoy the addition of maybe some lean deli turkey or even some smoked salmon (kinda like in our Easy Smoked Salmon Breakfast Wrap).
It’ll make this open-face sandwich a little more substantial if you’re super-hungry. I’m not gonna tell you it’s wrong.
But if you took my advice and waited until you had exactly the right tomato, then you really don’t need much else. I mean, why overcomplicate something that’s so beautifully simple? On second thought, maybe save the meat for tomorrow’s lunch instead, huh? You choose.
A super-sharp, serrated bread knife is great for cutting both your crusty loaf of bread and your perfectly ripe tomato. I love this one (which has crazy-good Amazon reviews BTW).
The key is to be sure that you don’t smash either the bread or your pretty tomato by using a dull knife that doesn’t slice cleanly through.
Use your serrated knife with a back-and-forth motion to allow those jaggedly teeth to to saw through without smooshing your ingredients (which would be borderline tragic, for sure!).
I honestly eat these Open-Faced Tomato Sandwiches pretty much any time of day. I’m absolutely not kidding when I say that I get obsessed with these sandwiches each year, when tomato season rolls around. So …
• Lunch? Yep! All you need is a cool drink and a napkin. Perfection.
• Dinner? For sure! Some corn on the cob and a sweet wedge of watermelon will turn this into the very simplest, quickest and yet most summer-y of all summer dinners! Or, extend the tomato theme by throwing together our No-Cook Fresh Corn, Tomato and Avocado Salad to serve alongside. Twice the tomato joy, in the very same meal!
• And breakfast? Again, I say yes, yes, yes! I mean, tomato season doesn’t last long, so why not soak it in, every chance you get? This is grab-and-go bliss on busy mornings!
• Oh – and snacks? Of course! You could hardly open a store-bought granola bar in the time it takes to make this sandwich instead … and the rest of your afternoon will feel so much happier!
When Even the Simplest Sandwich Means So Much More
I guess it’s pretty obvious that this Open-Faced Tomato Sandwich holds a really special place in my heart. But that’s not just because I so eagerly look forward to making this each tomato season … not just because I find it so fabulously delicious.
For me, this is also about the love of gardening, and of family. The joy in creating something as beautiful as a perfect tomato … and then sharing it with someone you care about.
Ok. That’s really sappy, I know. But stick with me.
I first started making these sandwiches a couple of summers ago (remember my gushing tribute to my new tomato love, over on Instagram)? My beloved aunt and uncle gave me some of their homegrown, beautifully vine-ripened tomatoes from their meticulously tended, organic garden. Whenever I visit them, I always look forward to getting a little garden tour, complete with stories of the fantastic home-cooked meals they create with their bounty.
And usually, I’m lucky enough to get an armful of whatever’s ripe to take back to my own kitchen!
When they shared some their wonderful tomatoes with me a couple of years back … and then I spied that carefully guarded little canister of fleur de sel gifted to me by my sister-in-law … well …
It was suddenly so clear how this should all play out!
So this sandwich started off not just with some tomatoes and a sprinkling of salt, but with love.
And really, what could taste better than that?
Go find yourself the absolute perfect tomato – one that’s been grown with love and a caring heart. And then do it proud. Simply, deliciously.
And bask in one of the very best things about summer, before summer slips away for another year.
- 1 large slice hearty, grainy bakery bread
- 2 tablespoons reduced-fat, chive and onion cream cheese
- 1-2 slices perfectly ripe, garden-fresh tomato
- 1/16 teaspoon fleur de sel finishing salt (or other large-grained salt, see note)
- optional: fresh chives for garnish
Spread cream cheese on bread and top with tomato slices.
Sprinkle evenly with fleur de sel (and chives, if using).
Ingredient amounts: The exact amounts may vary slightly, depending on how large your slice of bread and tomatoes are.
Fleur de sel: For more information on fleur de sel, where to find it (including HERE on Amazon), and possible substitutions, refer to the post above. In general, other large-grained, flaky finishing salts will be acceptable substitutes. DO NOT substitute regular table salt or other fine-grained salts.