Bulk Up Your Next Tomato Sandwich With A Slather Of Slaw

The tomato is a native Mexican crop that the entire globe has made an integral part of its many cuisines. While many cultures break it down into sauces, pastes, broths, and garnishes, Americans are happy to enjoy a juicy tomato as the protagonist in its very own sandwich. The tomato sandwich is a beloved summer tradition in every corner of the U.S., consisting of fresh slices of tomatoes sandwiched between untoasted white bread with a hearty slathering of mayonnaise.

In the South, where the sandwich is claimed to have originated, purists argue that this simple three-ingredient format is the key to the perfect tomato sandwich. But rules are meant to be broken! A helping of slaw will add heft, flavor, and texture to a tomato sandwich without upstaging its star ingredient.

Slaw is crunchy, vegetal, tangy, and savory, pairing well with the tender, juicy, umami-rich tomato. As a common addition to pulled pork sandwiches, Reubens, hamburgers, and even tacos, slaw has more than proven itself worthy of adding a fibrous crunch and flavorful complement to all kinds of handhelds. Plus, a simple tomato sandwich, while tasty, is very light and texturally one-sided. Untoasted white bread will all but disintegrate into the tomato and creamy mayo, sticking to the top of your mouth with each bite. The slaw will provide a crunchy contrast, more volume, and loads of complexity. You can make a side dish and sandwich topper from a single batch of slaw, or repurpose leftovers.

Slaw and tomato sandwich ideas

While adding slaw may be seen as an aberration from the classic tomato sandwich to purists, you can still follow the same old-school rules to accentuate a tomato's inherent attributes. Farm-fresh Roma or plum tomatoes are the gold standard, but whichever tomato variety you choose, they must be at room temperature for a tomato sandwich. If you refrigerate them, you'll dry them out and run the risk of a mealy texture. A generous seasoning of salt and pepper is integral to bringing out the richest tomato flavors; if you stack thin slices of tomatoes, be sure to season each layer. While classic tomato sandwich proponents enjoy the messiness of white bread saturated and soggy with tomato juice, toasted bread will provide a sturdy and more richly flavored foundation. 

Slaw encompasses many recipes, from vinegar-based Asian slaws to mayonnaise-based southern coleslaw, not to mention countless combinations of shredded vegetables. Consequently, you've got plenty of pairing options to choose from for a delicious garnish. To honor its southern origins, a creamy, slightly sweet coleslaw would be a classic choice to complement a tomato's zestiness. As a Mexican crop, tomatoes would also taste delicious with a Southwestern or Mexican-style slaw with cilantro-lime dressing, crunchy jicama, cabbage, bell peppers, and canned corn. Broccoli or Brussels sprouts slaws would add even more fibrous bulk and a sophisticated bitterness to complement the creaminess of mayo and the umami tang of tomatoes.