Nana’s Tomato Sandwich

mom’s parents at her wedding, 1964

Here I am revisiting, if you will, an older post of mine.
Sharmi’s Cooking For Kids is being hosted this month by dear Pratibha and Jigyasa at their beautiful Pedatha tribute blog: whose food we eat, their song we sing.
P & J have always been so kind and supportive of me; I didn’t want to miss out!

I don’t have a trove of recipes handed down to me — but I do have great memories of this simple dish made for us kids by my beloved grandmother.
It is something I made for my children when they were small.
Not only that, it’s something a child can make.

An older child can handle a knife, of course, while a younger one can assemble the dish once the tomatoes are sliced.

pick a tomato!

P & J requested both recipes and memories of a loved one — this includes both.
I did manage to find some old photos to enhance, so I hope I am forgiven for ‘recycling’. πŸ™‚


When I was growing up, my grandmother always had a fantastic garden.

my maternal grandparents, harborside, probably sometime in the 1930’s

me, with mom and dad at the beach on the cape ~ circa 1967

On the Cape, the sea air lends something to the soil β€” good things seem to simply sprout up where planted. If we were visting in spring, we were allowed to help with the weeding and the watering. Then came summertime, which meant a month-long visit at least. We kids played in half of her big backyard rimmed with brambles β€” blackberries and raspberries, with the garden taking up the other half. We played badminton, baseball, kickball, you name it. All those summer afternoons nana would sit in her lawn chair watching. Whenever a ball or birdie went astray and a child ran after it, she would jump up from her chair to retrieve the offending toy β€” all in order to save her precious plantings. In later years when she wasn’t so nimble, she would direct us between the rows of green, calling β€œout of the garden”. She did this in such a sing-song voice that I can still hear her tone now, thirty-plus years on.

When the games were over, we scrambled through the brambles β€” braving the prickers to pick blackberries which were then proffered to nana with blue-stained fingers and lots of love. In return we received simple and delicious fare from her well-worn and equally loving hands.

Tomato sandwiches were one such pleasure.

Later, as the sky grew dark, we would run barefooted over the lawn, chasing fireflies. And if any of us were so lucky as to catch one, nana always had a jar ready. We could place the firefly gently into that jar and watch it β€” maybe for half an hour, before nana would have us release it. She was a wise woman β€” having us set that small creature free to fire up our childhood dreams.

Eventually, my uncle took over the garden. Sadly, they are all three no more β€” garden, uncle, and nana. But the singsong call remains, β€œout of the garden”, and just a short drive away, my mom still has her own vegetable patch with juicy, succulent garden-fresh tomatoes every year.

This recipe is simple and can be enjoyed anytime, but to fully appreciate it, try it in the summer with a fresh, garden tomato β€” just picked and still warm from the sun.

my mom and her mom, circa 1968

Nana’s Tomato Sandwich

Choose the freshest, ripest tomato you can find. Rinse it off, and slice into medium-thick rounds. If you don’t mind tomato juice on your hands, leave the rounds whole. If you want a neater sandwich, cut them in half.

Take two slices of fresh, soft white bread. Storebought Canadian White style is my favorite. Homemade bread is great too. You could use wheat or some other whole grain, of course, but this sandwich of my childhood memories is all about indulgence so I use white bread and real mayo.

Real mayo in this case means Hellman’s β€” or for anyone west of the Mississippi, Best Foods brand.

Lay out your fresh white bread (preferably on a paper plate) and give each slice a thin veil of real mayo. Lay on the sliced tomatoes. Put the two halves together. Cut into quarters β€” triangles are the most fun.

Carry your plate outdoors if you can.

Gobble it up and lick your fingers β€” napkins are for grownups πŸ™‚

nana and me, summer 1982

Photo of the simple sandwich included by request πŸ™‚

tomato sandwich!



  1. bee said

    you nana, mom and you – all gorgeous.

    Aw, thanks bee πŸ™‚

  2. bee said

    that candleholder you asked about – its crystal from the czech republic.

    It’s really lovely. I am a big fan of glassware!

  3. Sra said

    So that’s how Out Of The Garden got its name! Your post transported me to your nana’s garden and put me plumb in the centre of summer there. I could feel and hear everything.

    I don’t eat much bread but when I do have a tomato sandwich – most sandwiches sold at non-upmarket places in India have a layer of butter, mint chutney, a slice or two of cucumber and of tomato – I love it when the tomato drips into the white bread and makes it soggy! Enjoyed the photos – thanks!

    That’s where it came from, Sra — I’m glad you enjoyed. Tomato sandwich with butter and spicy chutney sounds good too! And yes, the soggy tomatoey bread is the best πŸ˜‰

  4. Happy Cook said

    This is one of the best post i have read for a while.
    You have taken us to a fill momory lane.

    Thanks HC, I’m happy you liked it! πŸ™‚

  5. Asha said

    Great post, Linda. First photo, I was just born and last photo, you look exactly like your nana, big grin!! πŸ˜€
    I didn’t have any photos of parents here with me, so I didn’t make any post for Pedatha. Glad to see all those pics. Beautiful women in your family! Bet M looks like you too! :))

    Thanks Asha, you’re a sweetheart! I think m is much prettier and I guess we all feel that way about our kids right! Mom’s job! πŸ˜‰

  6. indosungod said

    Linda, first the sandwiches I bet my kids would love tomato sandwiches.
    I have something to say about dress and fashion these days, photos clearly show how classy they looked back then. And I am glad to finally catch a glimpse of you.

    Love the photo of you with your parents in the beach and the 1930s photo of your grandparents. Truly lovely. Glad you shared it with us.

    Thank you ISG πŸ™‚ I completely agree re: fashion — wouldn’t it be great to go way back and I don’t mean the 70s!! πŸ˜‰ I’m sure your kids will have lots of tomatoes this summer! πŸ™‚

  7. shyam said

    What a lovely post, Linda! πŸ™‚ I love reading about people’s recollections of the past, even better if supplemented with photos, like this… I dont even mind if I dont know anyone in the photos, or the person posting the photos – I just adore getting a peek into the past! And gosh, arent you just gorgeous! πŸ™‚

    Me too Shyam — I love old pics πŸ™‚ And aren’t you sweet — but let’s not forget I was only about 18 then!!! All wrinkled now πŸ˜‰

  8. vineela said

    Hi Linda,
    Love your post with a lot of memories and pictures.
    chubby cheeks dimple chin thats the dear linda there.
    Thanks for sharing .

    It’s so nice to see you Vineela, hope you’re all doing well! And as always thanks so much for your kind words πŸ™‚ I’m glad you enjoyed!

  9. Soma said

    What a lovely psot & what treasured pics:-)

    Thank you Soma — happy to have a chance to share thanks to P and J πŸ™‚

  10. Mamatha said

    What a lovely post Linda and you are all so beautiful. Like Shyam, I too love looking at old pictures and getting a glimpse of the past, even if I don’t the people in the pictures.

    Thank you Mamatha — I’m happy you visited! πŸ™‚

  11. Rico said

    I love old pictures and you have quite a few here, another hobby of mine is to repair old pictures, if you ever need some restored, mail them to me (scan in high resolution jpg, and mail and I’ll try my best to fix them, that is if you need… cheers for sharing..

    Thanks for your kind words, Rico — and I’ll keep photo restoration in mind πŸ™‚

  12. sandeepa said

    Beautiful ladies in the family, do you have a pic of all 4 i.e including your daughter ?

    Hi Sandeepa, and thanks! I am sure there may be a photo like that somewhere — I couldn’t find to scan for this but I should look harder πŸ™‚

  13. […] […]

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  15. They have all said it and I too give my stamp – Yep! beautiful ladies there:), and a very beautifully written post. Chasing fireflies, scrambling over nettles….pure nostalgia!

    Pure nostalgia indeed, and I thank you for your kind words! Loved your dal, too πŸ™‚

  16. sharmi said

    Thanks so much for the awesome post! You look so pretty!!!
    The writeup was so nice to read….
    I add some cucumber to my sandwich along with tomatoes:)

    Thank you Sharmi! I’m so happy you enjoyed it πŸ™‚ Love those cucumbers too… almost gardening time now πŸ™‚

  17. mandira said

    hi Linda, thanks for dropping by my blog. It’s always so good to hear from you. I loved this post and looking at all those pictures. Such a simple and delicious recipe Linda, thanks for sharing.

    Hi Mandira, it’s so nice to see you, too! I’m glad you liked the pics πŸ™‚

  18. Swapna said

    wow..Lindi.. it is so great to re-visit all the childhood memories.. gives a sweet pang..doesn’t it? I love tomato sandwiches too.. πŸ™‚

    Hi Swapna, do you know that ‘Lindy’ is the nickname my mom and dad gave me, too πŸ™‚ Love your phrase too — sweet pang — perfect! πŸ™‚

  19. Congrats Linda!! I loved your post and I am glad to share the place with you!!

    Thanks so much, and congrats to you my dear! Your dal post was fantabulous πŸ™‚

  20. vineela said

    Hi Linda,
    Congrats.Hope to see recipes from the winning book.

    Thank you Vineela! I look forward to sharing them, indeed πŸ™‚

  21. Shankari said

    Lovely pics of your nana and family. The tomatoes look fesh and ripe red.

    Thanks Shankari — so nice to see you! Nothing like a fresh ripe tomato, can’t wait to get planting again πŸ™‚

  22. Rajee said

    Congrats dear Linda!! I love to see you with Nana, Mom and Dad. Lovely pictures and good to read. I can see ur beautiful garden pictures too. That’s why Out Of The Garden got its name!
    Hugs from me.

    Aw, thank you so much Rajee! I guess the garden bug bit me young πŸ™‚ Hugs back to you dear πŸ™‚

  23. Asha said

    Linda, I just emailed them, let’s see what they will do and hopefully it will be gone in a week. Thief is making money out of my post too. One of the silent readers said she was looking for Shivaratri recipes and went straight to this site and she recognized this as mine and left a comment for me at the old post!!
    I was shocked to see the whole post lifted except first few paragraphs and comments! His name is Paramjit, from New Jersey and has not listed contact address, clever guy!! I will let you know what happens.
    Thanks for your help, wouldn’t have figured it out myself! πŸ™‚

    I am glad you wrote them, Asha. It’s a place to begin, at least. Keep me posted. Alot of times best thing to do with someone like that is ignore — like a child the more attention the better — even if it’s negative attention. In this case, it’s pure theft and deserves a fight πŸ™‚

  24. Vani said

    Oh, how lovely to get a glimpse of you, Linda! Loved both your pictures. You’re one pretty lady! Thanks for sharing the pics of your family. And the sandwich – simple and I have a feeling my M will love it too (which is saying a lot since she is a VERY fussy eater)!

    Thanks for your kind words Vani — I’m happy you enjoyed the pics πŸ™‚ I hope you and M enjoy some tomatoes too, this summer! πŸ™‚

  25. Sia said

    Linda… ur childhood pic is so cute and adorable πŸ™‚ and ur mom, nana and u all are really really gorgeous πŸ™‚
    and beautiful write-up with a story behind ur blog name. I always wondered and now i know why ur blog is named ‘out of the graden’!
    and if there is one sandwitch that i will never get bored of, it will always be tomato sandwitch. i swear!

    Hi Sia, and thanks! Yep, that’s the answer to the name! Glad to hear there’s another tomato sandwich lover in blog-land πŸ˜‰

  26. Lynne said

    Lovely photos of your family. We couldn’t wait for the tomatoes in our garden to ripen so we could make these tomato sandwiches. They are the best in the world and so simple to make.

    Thanks for visiting, Lynne, and for your kind words πŸ™‚ Right now I am anxious for warm weather and this years tomatoes!

  27. […] sister, Sarala Athaiyya chose three winners, and I was one of them, the others being Linda and Radhika Mohan. I was thrilled when the courier delivery man brought me a rectangular parcel […]

  28. […] Linda of Out of garden – Nana’s Tomato Sandwich […]

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