Tomato lovers, this one’s for you! A ‘Mater Sandwich, also known as a Heirloom Tomato Sandwich, is a secret Southern classic. Easy to make at home during the late summer, it’s the best way to utilize the summer’s harvest.
What is a ‘Mater Sandwich?
First created in the deep southern U.S., a Heirloom Tomato Sandwich, also colloquially known as a “Mater Sandwich”, is a simple delicacy. Take a thick slice of a ripe, meaty heirloom tomato and place it in between mayo’d slices of bread.
- Heirloom Tomatoes: Late summer is the best time to find juicy ripe Heirloom tomatoes.
- Mayo: Mayonnaise is a staple for a ‘Mater sandwich. I actually started using Kewpie mayo for its richer flavor.
- Sourdough or French loaf bread: Even though this sandwich is traditionally served on white Wonder bread, I like to use a bread that has a bit more “umph” to it. I’ve even sliced and toasted baguette to use for this sandwich!
- Salt and Pepper: Add as much (or as little!) salt and freshly-cracked pepper to your sandwich to season it.
- Balsamic Glaze: A slightly more dense and sweet version of the standard balsamic vinegar, using a glaze on your sandwich will add a sweet punch of acid. ama
How to Make a ‘Mater Sandwich (Heirloom Tomato Sandwich)
Making this southern staple is an easy, throw-together sandwich that tastes delicious.
Your tomato is going to be the star of the sandwich, so make sure you have a sweet meaty heirloom tomato at the ready. You can make this recipe with other tomatoes, such as roma or beefsteak, but this sandwich was created for ways to use up those Heirloom tomatoes from a summer harvest.
Use your favorite style of loaf bread. Traditionally, this sandwich is served on white Wonder bread, but I like using a bread with a little more substance. Opt for a sourdough or French-style bread instead.
Toast your bread if you would like. I think this step is more than worth it, since it will add a bit of texture to the softer ingredients.
Take the toasted bread and spread it one side with mayo – as much or as little as you like. Then add in some (a little goes a long way!) of the balsamic glaze. If you don’t have this ingredient, you can skip it. Add the tomato and season with salt and pepper before topping off with the second slice of bread. Cut in half or serve whole.
You can also serve this sandwich open-faced and skip the second slice of bread. Or better yet, use that second slice of bread and make a second open-face sandwich with it. It’s like a lazy-man’s bruschetta!
Optional Ingredients for a Heirloom Tomato Sandwich
While this sandwich shines in its simplicity, there are ways to spice it up.
- Basil: Nothing pairs better than tomatoes and basil. Slice up some basil and top off the tomato with it before closing your sandwich.
- Balsamic glaze: While this is an ingredient listed above, it’s totally optional. I recommend adding it, especially if you’re a fan of Caprese salad.
- Mozzarella cheese: Use fresh or pre-shredded Mozzarella cheese. It will add a soft fattiness to the sandwich. If you do add cheese, you can toast the whole sandwich and turn it into a Heirloom tomato grilled cheese!
How to Pick a Heirloom Tomato
If you’ve never eaten or picked out a Heirloom tomato before, I understand it can be a bit daunting.
These are huge tomatoes and in so many different shapes and colors!
So, what’s the secret for picking one out? Use the same methodology as you would when picking out any kind of tomato. Look for firm skin with no dimpling, bruising or soft spots.
Heirloom tomatoes range in colors from light yellow to a dark green. Don’t worry about the color of the tomato, even though you would never pick out a yellow or green tomato generally. As long as the tomato is firm yet slightly gives when lightly squeezed, it’s ripe and ready to eat.
These tomatoes grow quickly and are full of water. This means that the tomatoes can develop a scar, or a split down one of the sides or at the top or bottom of the tomato. It is still a perfectly safe fruit to enjoy, just cut off the split area.