Tomato tea sandwiches are an old English custom, a tasty old tradition we in the states are happy to adopt.
With garlic, lemon, olive oil and basil, they are surprisingly flavorful. And in true tea sandwich fashion they are not messy or soggy, once you learn the secret.
I used whole grain bread in this photo, which turned out to be a delightful contrast to the delicate tomatoes. And to white-bread tea sandwiches in general.
2 pounds tomatoes
3/4 cup soft butter or cream cheese
2 teaspoons minced fresh garlic
20 thin-sliced pieces of bread
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
Pepper to taste
Pinch of basil, optional
Slice the tomatoes thinly, remove the seeds, and salt lightly.
Combine the butter or cream cheese with the garlic. Apply the spread evenly over one side of each slice of bread, clear to the edges.
In a small bowl, stir together the lemon juice, olive oil, pepper and basil. Brush the tomatoes with the olive oil mixture.
Arrange the tomatoes atop the spread on 10 pieces of bread. (To keep the tomatoes from slipping, arrange them so that each slice touches a portion of the spread.) Top with the other 10 slices, cut off the crusts, and quarter. Serve immediately.
Makes 40 tea sandwiches.
Option: Peel the Tomatoes
Personally, I prefer to use unpeeled tomatoes whenever possible, but if you'd prefer a more genteel approach, a pinkies up kind of approach, peeling tomatoes is not hard at all; just blanch them and the skins come off easily.
Start by bringing a large pot of water to boil. Also prepare an ice bath, a large bowl of water with ice. Core the tomatoes and slip them into the boiling water for 30 seconds. Transfer them to the ice water so they don't steam-cook themselves. Slip the skins off.