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New Ways to Elevate Your Tomato Sandwiches: Creative Ingredient Additions

If you’re looking for a summery, light meal to keep you satisfied through the afternoon, a tomato sandwich is a classic that is simple and delicious. Juicy tomatoes seasoned to perfection served on soft bread with a dollop of mayonnaise — it’s the ultimate example of letting great ingredients speak for themselves.

But just because the original is an understated masterpiece doesn’t mean that you can’t strive to improve it. A tweak here and there can take your tomato sandwich to new culinary heights, and often boost the nutrition at the same time. From creamy avocado to earthy hummus or spicy jalapeños, a wealth of ingredients can complement the tomatoes and upgrade your lunch.

Join us as we explore the ingredients and tips that will take your tomato sandwich from a tasty lunch to a mouthwatering treat. Whether you’re wanting to impress family and friends at a summer picnic or just looking to upgrade your lunchbox, we’ve got you covered.

Hummus

hummus with chickpeas on top

If you want to elevate your tomato sandwich in terms of flavor and nutrition, adding some creamy hummus is the perfect way to do so. Made from chickpeas, with rich flavors of sesame and garlic, it complements the tomatoes perfectly and adds an earthy flavor to the sandwich.

Chickpeas, like all legumes, are high in protein, making this an excellent option for those following a plant-based diet. Their fiber content will make you feel full and prevent you from snacking after lunch, and keep your digestive system happy, too.

Though the shop-bought version is delicious, making a simple creamy hummus recipe at home takes very little time, so it’s worth giving it a shot. The hardest part will be getting your food processor out from the back of the kitchen cupboard. Simply blitz together a can of chickpeas, tahini, lemon, and olive oil, then smear it on your tomato sandwich and enjoy the creamy deliciousness. 

Coleslaw

coleslaw in white bowl

Coleslaw may not be your first thought among ingredients to add to a tomato sandwich, but once you taste it, you’ll wonder why not. Crunchy, creamy cabbage with a tang from the mayo and vinegar is exactly what your sweet tomatoes need, and making your own at home allows you to customize it to suit your sandwich.

If you fancy a change from regular old cabbage slaw, mix it up with carrot slaw instead. The result will be sweeter than normal coleslaw, but the earthiness of the carrots will match the tomatoes well. Using both carrots and cabbage alongside the tomatoes will transform this sandwich into a brilliant healthy lunch or snack.

Assemble your coleslaw and tomato sandwich by adding mayo to one slice of bread, layering thickly sliced tomato rings on top, then piling the slaw high before the second slice of bread goes on. The result is a crunchy, juicy delight that will be a treat for your senses.

Goat cheese

slices of goat cheese

Cheese and tomato are a classic combination, and the number of cheeses to choose from is vast. If you want to add a touch of sophistication to your tomato sandwich, add a few slices of goat cheese.

The tangy flavors of goat cheese are often underused, especially on sandwiches, but this brings a unique twist to many dishes that usually feature other cheeses. Goat cheese comes in many forms, just as cow’s cheese does, but a creamy option would do the tomatoes the most justice. You may even come across a spreadable herb-infused variety, allowing you to smear it on your sandwich in place of the usual mayonnaise.

Otherwise, a few leaves of fresh basil will pair brilliantly with the tomatoes and lift the flavor of this sandwich with a burst of freshness. Summery goat cheese and tomato sandwiches are ideal for having friends over for lunch, or taking to a picnic.

Bacon

strips of bacon in pan

Nancy Salmon/Shutterstock

For some people, everything is better with bacon, so why would a tomato sandwich be any different? The smoky flavor and crunchy texture marry wonderfully with the tomato and mayonnaise, creating a filling sandwich that could easily be served as a light meal.

Cooking the bacon to perfection is key to creating the best possible texture for your sandwich. You want it to be crispy but not burnt, giving you satisfying crunch as you bite down, without any bitter flavor. Once you have crisped it up, drain it well on some paper towels to prevent your sandwich from becoming soggy and greasy.

For the best bacon and tomato sandwich, choose a thick-cut bread and spread it generously with mayonnaise. Add your seasoned tomatoes next, leaving the crispy bacon to go on top, so that you get an immediate crunch with your first bite. The result is a perfectly balanced savory sandwich with delicious sweet notes that will leave you wanting more.

Cream cheese

cream cheese in glass bowl

When constructing your tomato sandwich, slathering a creamy base on the bread is the key to a perfectly balanced texture. While mayonnaise is more than capable of this job, switching in cream cheese instead can add an extra luxurious touch to your sandwich.

Cream cheese has a mild flavor that benefits from the addition of some stronger ingredients. A few twists of black pepper will work well and complement the tomatoes at the same time. Alternatively, some chopped fresh herbs like parsley or cilantro can be mixed in with the cheese, or add a few chili flakes for a burst of heat.

Choose large, ripe tomatoes for your sandwich, as their sweet flavor will work well with the cream cheese. Smear your flavored cheese on both slices of bread and add the tomato filling. Some diced red onion could also add a sharp note that will be pleasing alongside the creamy cheese.

Honey

honey in wooden bowl

Honey on a tomato sandwich? No, we haven’t gone mad, and once you’ve tried it out, your taste buds will thank you. Honey does a great job of balancing the acidity of the tomatoes to create a balanced sandwich with a sweet finish.

If you are put off by the thought of pure honey drizzled on your tomatoes, you could make a honey-mustard dressing instead by mixing it with olive oil, a splash of vinegar, and either Dijon or wholegrain mustard. This can then be tossed with the tomato filling to give a sweet tang to the overall sandwich. Honey will also match well with other ingredients from this list, such as bacon or goat cheese, meaning you can mix and match your ingredients until you find the perfect combo. 

Avocado

avocado on wooden board

In recent years, avocados have been paired with virtually everything, but tomatoes are one of the original companions to this deliciously creamy fruit. They team up to create the foundation for a crave-worthy guacamole recipe, so it seems only logical to transfer that perfect pairing into a sandwich filling.

Creamy avocado is a superfood partly thanks to its unsaturated fats, which happen to be good for your heart. They will also help keep you full, meaning this creamy sandwich is the perfect option for a lunch that will keep you going throughout the afternoon.

Build your sandwich by slicing your avocados and tomatoes thinly, then layering them across the bread. You could take inspiration from the aforementioned guacamole and squeeze some lime over the filling to give it a zesty kick, or slice up half a pepper and scatter it across the filling. The result is a sandwich that is packed with nutrition and flavor, and is sure to become a lunchtime favorite. 

Mozzarella

mozzarella cheese and tomatoes

For the ultimate Italian-inspired tomato sandwich, why not take the delicious flavors of a Caprese salad and surround them with crusty bread? Mozzarella cheese will add a creamy, indulgent texture to your sandwich, and pair perfectly with the juicy tomatoes.

The key to the tomato and mozzarella combination — especially if upgrading lunch with a roasted Caprese sandwich recipe — is choosing the cheese wisely. Low-moisture mozzarella is your best option to ensure plenty of flavor without making the sandwich too soggy. Fresh buffalo mozzarella will taste excellent, but its water content means that the texture of your sandwich will be affected. Try to avoid pre-grated cheese, as it has additives to prevent the pieces from sticking together, which will affect the taste and texture.

Layer slices of mozzarella and tomato onto some rustic crusty bread with torn basil leaves in between to create a vibrant, fresh sandwich. With a side of crisp greens and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar, you will have the perfect Italian lunch to enjoy in summer.

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Pickled onions

pickled red onions in jar

Tomatoes and onions are a classic combination that you have likely tried on a sandwich before, but why not take it up a notch by using pickled onions instead? Tangy and crunchy, pickled onions can create a wonderful balance to sweet and juicy tomatoes, and they are so simple to make at home.

A basic pickling liquid consists of water, vinegar (apple cider vinegar works really well), salt, and sugar. You can then add herbs, spices, and whatever other flavorings you want before heating the mixture in a saucepan for around 30 minutes. The mixture can then be poured over some thinly sliced onion, and left ideally for a few hours or more.

Once your pickled onions are ready, scatter them across your tomato sandwich along with some fresh herbs. The best tomatoes to pair with the sharp onions would be sweet tomatoes such as cherry or grape tomatoes, to allow them to balance the acidity of the pickles. This will result in a perfectly balanced sandwich that will put a fun kick into your usual lunchtime meal.

Tapenade

olive tapenade in saucepan

Olive tapenade may be a spread that is unfamiliar to some, but once you’ve tried it on your tomato sandwich, it will be on your list of must-haves from now on. Made from olives, capers, and anchovies, it is certainly not a subtle flavor, and will lend a brilliant savory and salty kick to your lunch.

You can make a simple tapenade at home with just a few ingredients. The olives can be green or black — black will give you a less bitter flavor — and are mixed in a food processor with anchovies, capers, and olive oil. Traditionally, there were no other ingredients, but nowadays garlic, fresh herbs, and lemon juice are often added.

To construct your Mediterranean-inspired sandwich, spread a generous helping of tapenade on some crusty bread, layer your tomatoes on top, and scatter some fresh parsley for freshness. The robust flavors from the tapenade will elevate the tomatoes and make you dream of sunny Mediterranean shores during your lunch hour.

Aioli

fresh aioli in white bowl

Mayonnaise is a classic component of a tomato sandwich, its creamy texture beautifully complementing the juicy tomatoes. To take the flavors to another level, why not replace your traditional mayo with a flavor-rich alternative in the form of aioli?

Some people think that mayo and aioli are essentially the same thing, but aioli is so much more than simply a garlic mayonnaise. Purists argue as to whether aioli should contain egg, but many modern interpretations include garlic, olive oil, and egg yolks.

The key to a smooth aioli is the emulsification step, when the olive oil is added very slowly to the egg and garlic mixture to preserve its suspension. Your patience will pay off, as you are rewarded with a silky smooth sauce that will make your tomato sandwich sing. Spread it on both slices of bread, then add your tomatoes and a few fresh herbs to complete your handheld masterpiece.

Pesto

green pesto and pine nuts

Pesto is a great way to add a burst of flavor to your sandwich, the vibrant flavor of the basil enhancing the sweetness of the tomatoes. While you can buy high-quality pesto at the store, making your own means you can customize it however you wish. To create a bright, fresh pesto at home, the traditional ingredients are pine nuts, basil, olive oil, garlic, and lemon. You can substitute the type of nut and a variety of herbs to completely change the flavor profile — and adding a strong cheese such as Parmesan will give it a nice kick of umami.

If you want the best possible pesto-and-tomato sandwich, try combining it with mozzarella to make a ridiculously good pesto mozzarella grilled cheese sandwich. The mozzarella will melt over the tomatoes and pesto to create a sandwich that somehow manages to be fresh and indulgent at the same time.

Egg

sliced hard-boiled eggs

Adding egg to your tomato sandwich will give it a delicious protein boost that will turn your snack into a more substantial meal. With so many ways to cook an egg, you can vary your sandwich each time and create delicious options for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

Adding a runny fried or poached egg to your tomato sandwich will result in a wonderfully rich experience, with the yolk oozing into the sandwich as you take your first bite. The creamy yolk mingling with juicy tomatoes and soft bread will be a delight for your taste buds. Scrambled eggs — with their light, fluffy texture — are another great option, and can be mixed with chopped tomatoes to create a tasty filling. Add mayonnaise to the mix rather than spreading it on the bread to make the filling as creamy as possible.

A sliced hard-boiled egg completes the classic tomato-and-egg options, and provides a firmer texture to the sandwich. You can use an egg slicer to create perfect slices, then layer them on the bread with mayonnaise or aioli for some added smoothness. 

Jalapeños

whole and sliced jalapeños

To add a little heat to your usual tomato sandwich, add some jalapeño peppers. They have the perfect balance of feisty flavor and punch without setting your taste buds on fire, and will also increase the nutritional profile of your sandwich with a boost of antioxidants.

Decide how hot you want your sandwich to be, then prepare the jalapeños accordingly. The seeds contain a lot of heat, but the membrane that holds them is actually the part you need to remove if you want to keep the spice level mild. 

Slice the peppers into thin rounds, add the sliced tomatoes, then top with cheese if you’d like to balance out the heat with a creamy touch. Elevate the freshness and add a burst of color with some cilantro to complete a sandwich that tastes and looks fantastic. 

Black pepper and mayonnaise

mayonnaise and whole black peppercorns

New Africa/Shutterstock

Adding a variety of exciting and unusual ingredients to your tomato sandwich can be a great way to spice up your lunch and get out of a sandwich rut. But sometimes, you just want a simple, classic tomato sandwich to satisfy that craving. A twist of black pepper and a smear of mayonnaise provides all the accompaniment you need to make your tomatoes stand out.

However, if you are keeping things simple, you need to have the very best produce possible, as tasteless tomatoes are not going to cut it. Make sure they are bright red in color and not too firm to touch. When you bring them to your nose, they should have a distinctive smell — if you can’t smell your tomatoes, you won’t be able to taste them either.

Beefsteak or heirloom tomatoes are tasty options if you want large slices, while baby plum or cherry tomatoes make a good miniature option. Whatever variety you go for, season them liberally with black pepper, slather a generous portion of mayo on the bread, and sit back and enjoy the original recipe for a fantastic light lunch.

Stale bread

sliced crusty bread

sockagphoto/Shutterstock

We have spent a lot of time talking about how to improve tomato sandwiches by adding extra fillings, but it is also important to consider the bread if you want the best possible sandwich. Much discussion has been had on this subject between tomato sandwich enthusiasts, with one group claiming the plain old white bread is the only way to go, while others prefer to toast it for a crunchier texture.

If you’re on the fence, there is an option that lies somewhere in the middle — let the bread for your tomato sandwich go stale overnight. You can either decide to do this ahead of time in preparation for making an awesome sandwich tomorrow, or you can wait until the next time you inevitably leave bread out accidentally, and put that slightly crunchy loaf to good use.

As well as giving a more satisfying texture, the slightly stale bread will absorb the juice from the tomatoes better, meaning you can use a somewhat overripe tomato that will be full of sweet juice, without worrying that your bread will become a soggy mess.

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