My Take on The Southern Tomato Sandwich

Hello! Welcome to Djalali Cooks. Today, I have another recipe that puts the tomato at center stage. As luck would have it, my tomato plants set a ton of fruit this year and a whole bushel of tomatoes are ready at the same moment. After a sad showing of tomatoes last summer, I did a bunch of research for this summer’s growing season and it’s been quite rewarding to see that effort payoff. A Tomato Sandwich is a very simple sandwich, but this recipe is so much more than a few slices of tomato on bread with mayo. I took a big detour with this recipe and instead of the classic white sandwich bread, I used sourdough focaccia I made and froze back in the wintertime. A departure from the classic Southern Tomato Sandwich, but no less delicious!

Classic Southern Tomato Sandwich ingredients

I may have taken this in another direction with the focaccia, but I am keeping it real with the Duke’s Mayonnaise. Lol. Another update to the classic is that we are taking a cue from a Cook’s Country recipe and marinating the tomatoes briefly in olive oil and red wine vinegar.

Tomato Marinade

Whisk together 3 tablespoons of olive oil with 1-1.5 tablespoons of red wine vinegar and 1.5 teaspoons of Kosher salt, making an emulsified vinaigrette.

Heirloom tomatoes are the way to go when choosing tomatoes for a tomato sandwich. Heirlooms are more flavorful, colorful and meatier than crossbred supermarket tomato varieties. I have two kinds: Cherokee Purples and Lemon Boys. Cherokee Purples are an heirloom variety; and Lemon Boys, are hybrid tomatoes, but I love their bright yellow color.

sliced tomatoes

Core and slice the tomatoes about 1/4-inch thick. Pour the marinade into a gallon-size zipper-lock bag. Then, gently place each tomato slice in the bag. Try to keep the tomatoes in a single or double layer. Gently squeeze out as much air as you can and seal the bag. Lay the bag flat on the counter top and let sit for 10 minutes. Carefully flip the bag over every few minutes to ensure the marinade coats each slice.

marinating tomatoes


I left my leftover focaccia in the fridge to defrost overnight then I wrapped it in foil and placed it in a 400 degree oven to soften it up. Then, I sliced the focaccia in half, horizontally and placed the two halves back in the oven to toast the cut sides slightly. If you’re using classic sandwich bread, just toast them in toaster to your desired toasted-ness.

Souped Up Mayonnaise

Gently transfer the tomato slices to a bowl and scoop out 1.5 tablespoons of the marinade and add to a separate small bowl with 1/2 cup mayonnaise. Whisk to combine.

Tomato Sandwich

marinated tomatoes and mayonnaise on focaccia

You can spread as much mayo as you like on your sandwich. You can also use as many tomatoes as you like! Spread the mayo evenly on each slice of bread. Then shingle the tomato slices as thick as you like. No matter what, this is a messy sandwich – best eaten over the kitchen sink. A plate alone may not be enough to contain the mess as the tomato juices combine with the mayo and drip from the sandwich with every bite!

tomatoes seasoned on focaccia

Sprinkle the tomato side with fresh cracked black pepper and flaky finishing salt. Place the mayo-slathered top on top of the tomato side and slice in half. My leftover focaccia made two sandwiches. But this recipe will make four standard-size sandwiches.

Classic Southern Tomato Sandwich

The special thing about making this with focaccia is that all the air pockets get filled with the zingy mayo and it stands up well to all the tomato/mayo juice. The sourdough adds an extra layer of tang and zing to this Tomato Sandwich. A super-simple sandwich made a tiny bit more complex with marinated tomatoes, marinade-spiked mayo and airy sourdough focaccia bread.

Classic Southern Tomato Sandwich

Well, thank you so much for spending some time with me today, I do hope you make this sandwich – with or without the focaccia, it’s a cool and refreshing summer lunch or supper. In case you missed another great tomato-in-the-spotlight recipe, try the Summer Tomato Galette, it’s as delicious as it is rustically beautiful – a perfect way to showcase summer’s most versatile fruit. Give me a follow on Instagram, and don’t miss my first YouTube video! Take care and be well, xo Kelly

Southern Tomato Sandwich

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (2 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)
Dinner, Main Course, brunch, lunch American
By Based on Cook's Country Recipe Serves: 4
Prep Time: 20 Minutes (+ 10 minute marinade) Cooking Time: NA Total Time: 30-40 minutes

Classic Southern Tomato Sandwich with a focaccia and marinated-tomato twist. Tomato marinade-spiked Mayo adds extra richness and zing.


  • 3 tbsp. Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1-1.5 tbsp. Red Wine Vinegar
  • 1.5 tsp. Kosher Salt
  • 1 lb. Mixed Ripe Tomatoes, cored and sliced ¼ inch thick
  • 1/2 cup Mayonnaise
  • 8 slices Hearty White Sandwich Bread, toasted (or focaccia, sliced in half lengthwise)
  • Fresh Ground Black Pepper
  • Flaky Finishing Salt



Whisk oil, vinegar, and salt together in medium bowl until well-emulsified.


Pour marinade into 1-gallon zipper-lock bag.


Carefully add tomatoes to bag in a single or double layer. Press out air, seal bag, and gently turn to coat tomatoes with marinade. Lay bag flat on counter and let sit for 10 minutes.


Transfer tomato slices to now-empty bowl, leaving marinade in bag.


Combine 1½ tablespoons marinade with mayonnaise in small bowl. Discard remaining marinade.


Place toast on cutting board. Spread mayonnaise mixture on 1 side of each piece of toast.


Shingle tomatoes evenly on 4 slices of toast, covering as much of toast as possible.


Season tomatoes with pepper and flaky salt to taste. Top tomatoes with remaining 4 slices of toast, mayonnaise side down. Cut sandwiches in half. Serve.


If using focaccia, slice in half lengthwise and toast in a 400 degree oven for about 8-10 minutes. Build sandwich and slice into 2-4 equal pieces.

You Might Also Like

  • Arna
    July 26, 2021 at 9:18 am

    Do you have a link to the recipe for your sourdough focaccia? I am always looking for sourdough recipes, and I love having homemade focaccia. Don’t know why I never thought of sourdough focaccia. Cannot wait to try this recipe – for a lunch for dinner meal. I am going to make the tomato galette to have tonight.

    • Kelly Djalali
      July 26, 2021 at 9:33 am

      Hi Arna, Do you subscribe to my email newsletter? I have the link to the King Arthur Sourdough Focaccia recipe I use in today’s email. I love focaccia because it’s so versatile and it freezes so well! Reach out to me if you didn’t get the link in today’s email. xo Kelly

  • Terry
    July 26, 2021 at 10:25 am

    I agree with Arna I’ll have to make this bread it sounds and looks delicious. I love tomato sandwiches . I will look for the link for the bread and I will keep you posted❤️Mom

    • Kelly Djalali
      July 26, 2021 at 3:13 pm

      Hi Mom, It’s a really great way to put that focaccia to use! Let me know how you like it. xo Kelly

  • Susan Kelley
    July 28, 2021 at 10:01 am

    TRIed the Tomato sandwich last night. Raelly good. My husband paricularly liked the marianade. I also put in some chopped red onions and used a slice of Harvarti cheese and made a grilled cheese sandwich out of it! Wonderful,next time will do some soup with it too! Keep these posts coming. You are really brighting things for the stay-at-homes!

    • Kelly Djalali
      July 28, 2021 at 10:13 am

      Hello Susan, I am so glad you tried the tomato sandwich – that marinade really kicks it up a notch. Few things are more satisfying than a grilled cheese sandwich! I love the combination of Havarti and tomatoes too. I am happy this one was an inspiration for you! xo Kelly