The temptation to sneak in a few slices of thick-cut bacon on these Heirloom Tomato Panini was so strong. I so badly wanted to just chop a little fresh basil from my garden and mix it in with the homemade mayo. Just one little piece of fresh mozzarella? But everything I’ve been hearing about the good old-fashioned tomato sandwich is that its beauty is in its simplicity. So I stayed strong.
Big slices of summer heirloom tomatoes, homemade olive oil mayo and sourdough bread…seasoned with a little flaked sea salt and pepper…that’s it.
And it honestly is all you need. I couldn’t have imagined how such simple ingredients – and so few of of them – could combine into such blissful sweet, salty, briny bites. You know me, I’m a meat and cheese kind of girl. That a tomato sandwich stopped me in my tracks is kind of huge.
I know that a lot of people swear by regular store-bought mayo for this type of sandwich, but I just couldn’t resist the opportunity to try out the perfectly inexact mayonnaise-making method that Amy Finley described in her food memoir, How to Eat a Small Country. After countless failed attempts at following mayonnaise recipes to the letter, Amy finally threw caution to the wind and mirrored the actions of a confident, relaxed friend who used no measurements or special techniques. Voilà – perfect mayonnaise! I gave it a try and was just amazed.
Relax and simplify…I could get used to this.
Heirloom Tomato Panini with Homemade Olive Oil Mayo
The Olive Oil Mayonnaise “recipe” is adapted from How to Eat a Small Country, by Amy Finley – an inexact but highly reliable method that Amy learned from observing a confident, relaxed friend in France.
Prep time: 10 min | Cook time: 2 min | Total time: 12 min
Olive Oil Mayonnaise
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 slosh white wine vinegar
- 1 sprinkle salt
- A few pinches sugar
- A spoon Dijon mustard
- 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil (I used a measurement here, for those who may be unsure of how much oil is “enough”)
- 8 slices sourdough bread
- 2 heirloom tomatoes, sliced thickly
- 1/4 cup Olive Oil Mayonnaise (or store-bought mayonnaise)
- Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
For the Olive Oil Mayonnaise:
- Add the egg yolk, white wine vinegar, salt, sugar and Dijon mustard to a small bowl. Roll up a dish towel and wrap it around the base of bowl to keep it stable. While pouring olive oil steadily into the bowl with one hand, whisk briskly with the other until the mayonnaise is emulsified, light and fluffy.
- Season with more salt or sugar as needed (It may be on the bitter side, due to the olive oil, but trust me it’s amazing with the tomatoes. If it’s too bitter for your taste, add a little sugar). Refrigerate any unused mayonnaise in a covered bowl – it’s best to use it within 2-3 days.
For the Panini:
- Preheat the panini grill to High.
- For each sandwich: Spread a few teaspoons of mayonnaise on two slices of bread. Add tomato slices to one slice of bread (enough to cover). Season the tomatoes with salt and pepper. Close the sandwich with the other slice of bread, mayonnaise side down.
- Place the sandwich on the grill and close the lid just so that the grates are touching the top of the sandwich without pressing it. Grill for 1-2 minutes just until the bread is toasted. Serve immediately.