When the dining hall became unbearable in college, I would treat myself to a fresh tomato, mozzarella, and basil sandwich at my favorite bakery. This combination fueled my most desperate studying, even in the dead of winter. At the time, I hadn't heard of "seasonal" or "local," so I didn't notice if the tomatoes were imperfect or the basil didn't taste quite right with snow on the ground.
Since then, I've voluntarily submitted to a much stricter set of guidelines about what to eat and when, which means that I'm on something of a tomato bender right now. Recently, I decided to recreate my old favorite sandwich. If you're squeamish about squishy bread, then don't make this in the morning and eat it at lunchtime but for me, dressing-soaked bread is a plus.
- 2 individual ciabatta rolls
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- Salt and pepper
- 2 medium tomatoes
- 5 or 6 medium to large basil leaves chopped into chiffonade
- 2 or 3 ounces fresh mozzarella
- 1 clove garlic
Split the ciabatta and toast. In a bowl, whisk together the olive oil and vinegar and season with salt and pepper.
Slice or chop the tomatoes and toss them with the dressing (chopped tomatoes tend to slip out of the sandwich when you eat it and tomato slices sometimes slide out intact when you try to take a bite; so basically this is not tidy eating either way). Add the basil.
When the rolls are toasted, rub them with garlic and pile them with tomatoes and mozzarella. Drizzle the sandwiches with as much extra dressing as you like before closing them up. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and eat within a few hours, preferably without refrigerating.