The Creamy Vegan Upgrade For Tomato Sandwiches

Tomato sandwiches utilize one of summer's greatest assets — fresh, ripe, peak-season tomatoes. The beauty of them is the simplicity: Rustic fresh bread spread with mayonnaise, with thick-cut heirloom or beefsteak tomatoes seasoned with freshly cracked salt and pepper between. Packed up for the beach or a picnic, or just eaten at your kitchen counter, it really doesn't get much better. But, if you can believe it or not, it can. There's a creamy, vegan ingredient you can use to upgrade your tomato sandwiches this summer, and it's probably sitting in your fridge.

While there are some impressive vegan mayonnaise options on the market — Vegenaise, for example, works as a great alternative on your sandwich or in vegan chickpea salad — they're not technically an "upgrade." At least, not flavor wise. The creamy, vegan ingredient alluded to here is something else entirely: hummus. Whether store-bought or homemade, a simple creamy hummus will do wonders for your tomato sandwiches while giving them a boost of plant-based protein and preventing the bread from getting soggy.

While classic hummus will add an earthy element that pairs perfectly with the fresh tomatoes on your sandwich, you can also play around with other flavors of hummus. Spicy hummus, pine nut hummus, roasted red pepper hummus, and even dill pickle hummus — depending on your taste preferences — would all work the same way while giving your sandwich a bit of an unexpected flavor twist.

The vegan tomato sandwich combos don't stop there

Hummus is part of just one of the tomato sandwich combinations you should try — and it's not the only vegan one. Coleslaw, pickled onions, olive tapenade, and avocado are also great options for your tomato sandwiches, the latter two of which will also help to keep your bread from absorbing too much of the tomato juices. Much like the mayonnaise, some of the other combinations can easily be substituted with vegan alternatives, too. Bacon, for example, is often replaced with tempeh to give your tomato sandwich a meaty texture and plant-based protein boost. If you like it crispy, on the other hand, you can also follow Gordon Ramsay's method of turning rice paper into savory, vegan bacon.

Similarly, other ingredient additions like cheese can be replaced with their vegan counterpart — cream cheese with vegan cream cheese, mozzarella with vegan mozzarella, mayonnaise with vegan mayonnaise, etc. But, aside from adding things to your tomato sandwich, you can also focus on upping the quality of the ingredients that are already on it. You'd be surprised how different a farmers market tomato can taste from a store-bought one. Additionally, opting for a fresh baked sourdough or baguette are easy upgrades for the usual, store-bought soft white bread you often find used for these sandwiches.

As said before, the beauty of the tomato sandwich is its simplicity — so keep it that way, and don't let those peak summer tomato flavors get lost. They're the star here, after all.