Easiest Summer Ever: Tomato, Bacon, Mayonnaise, and an English Muffin

Finished tomato, bacon, and mayo sandwich on an English muffin, on a wooden surface, next to a knife

Bacon, mayonnaise, and an English muffin are summer tomatoes' best friends. [Photographs: J. Kenji López-Alt]

Breakfast at the beginning of this Easiest Summer Ever was easy. There is a plum tree in my backyard that seems to keep bearing despite the combined best efforts of me, my dogs, and the sparrows to quash its prodigious production. If I didn't want my patio soaked in rotting plum juice, I had no choice but to eat at least a couple of windfall plums each morning before the sun or bugs got to them.

Luckily (and, to be quite honest, sadly), the tree has finally dropped its last plum, there are a couple of gallons of plum jam resting in half-pint Mason jars in my kitchen, and I'm free to take breakfast my own way once again.

Well, about as free as a sane man can be during tomato season, which is to say, not that free at all.

I don't need to check my calendar to know when it's a Tuesday. That's the day the farmers roll into the parking lot near my house with their cases of fresh-picked tomatoes. I can hear their siren song tugging at my gut as I step out of my morning shower, and my feet walk me over to the market whether I want to go or not (I do).

There are some vegetables that are just fine all year round (hello, large potatoes, onions, lettuce, leeks), and some that get better during their season (extra-sweet corn and peas, asparagus packed with flavor). Then there are tomatoes. Nowhere else will you find such a gap between the standard supermarket variety and its fresh-from-the-farm, picked-when-actually-ripe counterpart.

Thin slices of tomato on a wooden board next to a knife

During late summer, tomatoes are a given, at any meal of the day. But what to pair them with? The simplest (and perhaps noblest) way to eat them is as the Spanish do: on a piece of toasted bread, with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt.

If you want to one-up yourself, then go with a TMT, a Tomato-Mayo-Toast, one of the finest three-ingredient combinations to ever cross my palate. But if you've got the will and the means to go just one small step further, make yourself a bacon and tomato sandwich on a toasted English muffin.

A butter knife spreading mayo on a toasted English muffin

This sandwich is a close relative of the BLT, and, like the BLT, it requires plenty of good mayo. Now is the time to pull out that stick blender and make a batch of two-minute mayonnaise. You're going to be slathering it on thick, so it better be tasty.

As it happened, I recently had in my kitchen a half dozen of my absolute favorite English muffins in the world, from Model Bakery up in St. Helena. The bakers cook the muffins in clarified butter. They come out extra light and puffy, with plenty of nooks and crannies. If you want to try your hand at them yourself, here's the recipe, though Stella's no-knead English muffin recipe is equally tasty and requires a lot fewer steps. And a plain old Thomas' will certainly do in a pinch.

Salting tomato slices laid on top of a toasted English muffin spread with mayo

To start assembling, I stack some thick slices of tomato on top of the muffin and sprinkle them with salt. Not sprinkling a sliced tomato with salt is like forgetting to bring your wig to the clown convention. There's very obviously something missing.

Strips of bacon frying in a cast iron skillet

I like to do all that jazz before I start cooking the bacon so that the tomato juices have a few moments to start dripping into those nooks and crannies in the muffin. (I leave the top muffin half off in order to keep some crispness for contrast.)

Laying bacon strips on top of tomato and mayo on a toasted English muffin half

Because the tomatoes are so juicy and tender, I like to cook my bacon until it's shatteringly crisp. Not only does this add more textural contrast, it also prevents stray strips of bacon from pulling out of the sandwich as you try to bite through.

Finished bacon, mayo, and tomato sandwich on a toasted English muffin

Ladies and gentlemen, it's time to breakfast.

Half-eaten bacon, tomato, and mayo English muffin sandwich on a plate, with grease drippings visible

If you did everything right—and if your tomatoes are absolutely perfectly juicy—then this thing should be as messy as any hamburger. Luckily, I work from home, where I can lick the plate clean with reckless abandon.