Nanny's easy open-faced sandwich
Quick and easy lunch idea with bacon, tomatoes, and cheese for kids of all ages
This easy sandwich never fails to please
One of my fondest food memories is of the many times my grandmother and I used to fix these open-faced tomato-bacon sandwiches or, as we affectionately call them, Nanny's sandwiches. I loved them and still do. My daughter is always asking me how I make these. So today I will.
Great recipe for kids young or grown
This became my daughter's favorite lunch (or dinner) and every time she comes, she peers into the fridge and searches for the basic ingredients so she can prod me into making them. I don't need much prodding. I know she continues the tradition with her kids.
Simple ingredients for an easy to make lunch recipe
This is an easy recipe and guaranteed memory-maker. The ingredients are simple and basic. You'll probably have most of them. The recipe is easy and quick. The cooking time is short. The taste is delicious. Let's make some of Nanny's sandwiches, shall we?
My gift to Nanny for Mother's Day, A small Grandmother Remembrance
As a writer, one way that I honor my family members who are no longer with me is by writing about them. Often we read essays or poems but for me, I like to write about different facets and memories that still sit in my memory house. We often link Mother's Day to our mothers, naturally, or even to our daughters who have become new mothers, but our grandmothers deserve our attention and thought, too.
All photographs for recipe and preparation and of Nanny copyright 2013 Vikk Simmons
Who is Nanny?
Nanny is my grandmother
Why I remember Nanny
I lived with my grandmother off and on all during my early childhood. My dad was in the Army and stationed in Korea during the police action and my mom and I lived with my grandparents. Because we were a military family, we were in and out of the Philadelphia area where I was born so there were times when I didn't see her at all and other times when I lived in her house (the best of times.)
Nanny had a long life
She lived to be 101 1/2 years old. She was the youngest of 9 children. She and my grandfather moved to America right after World War I and settled in Philadelphia among the strong Scottish community that was there at the time.
Nanny had many gifts
She had long, blue-black hair and the voice of an angel. She sang in Gilbert and Sullivan operettas. She could knit a suit in a day. She could even read tea leaves in a tea cup. Best of all, she made some great simple recipes that I absolutely loved and her open-faced tomato, bacon, and cheese sandwich was--and is--my absolute favorite.
Grandmother's play such an important role in our lives and leave a great legacy. What do you remember about your grandmother? How did she influence you?
Don't forget to remember your grandmother on Mother's Day
The magic ingredient
Bacon - The most beautiful thing on earth - A fellow bacon lover: Comic Jim Gaffigan loves bacon, too!
This little piggy went to market - This little piggy went to your house to be a chef and live in your kitchen
Have fun with this detailed Chef Pig figurine with a chalk board you can actually use to leave notes. He's much taller than he looks. I think he's adorable.
Gather all the ingredients
Easy to find ingredients for this simple lunch
Most ingredients found in the kitchen
This simple dish uses most of what is already in the kitchen. Bread, cheese, garlic salt, pepper, tomatoes, and bacon. That's it.
What type of bread?
My grandmother always used the basic white bread. I've used that, too, and it's really good. But, as I have today, I also use other types of bread such as dark rye or even the Pepperidge Farm THIN sliced white bread. It's really up to you.
Today I have two types of bread because I'm using up the end pieces.
Choose your favorite cheese
We have always used American cheese. It's what we like. But, honestly you can use any type of cheese you want.
Why American cheese? - Today American cheese has achieved cultural value
We have always, always, always used American cheese when making Nanny's open-faced sandwiches. For us, it's almost sacrilegious to use anything else. But I do recognize that some people don't like it or prefer something else. That's great. Use whatever you want. (If it's Gouda, remember that cheese doesn't melt so well.)
Alternate ingredients and ideas - Make the basic recipe your own
Try different ingredients
Here are some ingredients you can use to create Nanny's Open-faced Bacon Tomato Cheese Sandwich. Maybe try Velveeta instead of the Great American staple American cheese. Change to a homemade Artisan bread.
Have trouble slicing tomatoes?
If you really hate to slice those tomatoes, why not check out a tomato slicer? They're handy to have around and speed things up.
Nanny's Official Recipe
Nanny's Open-faced Tomato-Bacon-Cheese Sandwich
Classic family lunch recipe
This recipe has been made for more than sixty years. My family loves this sandwich. I have to admit that I'll make extra and cover them up in Saran Wrap and put them in to the refrigerator to eat later. (Wrap them in a paper towel and microwave.)
Are substitutes allowed?
Yes, you can substitute a different bread, different cheese, your favorite brand of garlic salt or pepper. You can omit the bacon but I think you'll be missing the final touch that makes this a great meal. (I have made this without the bacon and it's good...just not as great as with bacon.)
What about the garlic salt?
The garlic salt has a distinct part in this recipe as far as taste goes. You do not want to be heavy-handed with it. A little bit goes a long way but the sandwiches definitely taste different without it.
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 20 - 30 minutes
Serves: 3 (2 per person)
- Black pepper - to taste
- Garlic salt - to taste
- American Cheese - 6
- Slices of bread - 6
- Tomato slices - 4-6
- Bacon strips - 2-3
- Line a baking pan with aluminum foil.
- Place the 6 slices of bread on the pan.
- Place one slice of American cheese on top of each slice of bread.
- Place one slice of tomato in the center of each piece of bread.
- Lightly season with black pepper and garlic salt according to taste.
- Cut strips of bacon into small pieces as shown.
- Place the cut bacon pieces on top of each sandwich on the each of the four corners and on the top of the tomato in the center.
- Place the baking pan of sandwiches into the preheated oven (375 degrees) and bake for 15-20 minutes.
- Turn off oven and broil the sandwiches for 3-4 minutes until the cheese is golden brown.
- Remove from oven and let sit a few minutes.
- Servings: 3 (Most people eat two)
The Great Bacon Debate
If you made this recipe would you add bacon?
You know I would. Love bacon.
Bright red tomato sliced and ready to go - Slice your tomatoes
How many tomatoes?
The number of tomatoes depends on how open-faced sandwiches you are making and how much tomato you want to use.
How to slice a tomato
I know I'm not the most detailed person and I admit my knife was a bit dull so the sliced tomato doesn't look that great but it works. If you really want to fine-tune your tomato slicing skills, check out the video below.
Simple tips on how to slice a tomato - Kitchen knife tips
Kitchen tool saves time and energy with a Mandoline - Makes it easy to slice and julienne vegetables and fruits
My son-in-law wanted one of these for Christmas a few years back and that's how I learned about this handy kitchen tool. He loved his so I got one, too.
Place the bread on the baking pan - Classic white bread is the traditional bread we use
Choosing the bread
You can use any type of bread you want. My grandmother always used classic plain white bread and the sandwich is delicious when made that way, and I normally do that.
Great recipe to use up last slices and heels of bread
However, this is a great way to use up the last slices and the heels of bread and that's what I've done today. I'm using Orowheat's Dark Rye bread and the last slices of the Pepperridge Farm THIN sliced bread.
Add the cheese - Center the American cheese on the bread
Add the sliced tomatoes - Use one slice of tomato or more
When to season the open-faced sandwich?
Add black pepper and garlic salt now.
I tend to add the pepper and the garlic salt BEFORE I add the bacon; but, it's not critical. I've also added it after the bacon's been placed on the cheese and tomatoes.
Place the bacon just right
I cut the bacon into small slices and lay them across the four corners of the sandwich and place a nice-sized one on the center of the tomato.
Into the hot oven we go - Cooking time is short for this quick lunch recipe
Bake at 350 degrees for 12 - 15 minutes
The oven should already be heated to 350 degrees (my oven requires 375). I set the timer for 10-12 minutes and then check. Sometimes I bake them for a full 15 minutes.
Why not skip this step and go to broil?
This step is done to toast the bottom of the bread so the sandwiches aren't soggy and to cook the bacon.
When is it ready to broil?
Once the cheese has melted and the bacon is looking good, it's time to switch and broil.
The final step - Using the broiler
When the open-faced sandwiches are ready to broil
Once the sandwiches have been baked in the oven, it's time to switch on the broiler for the final touch.
Turn off the oven and turn the broiler on.
How long to broil?
This is the tricky part because you want to broil long enough for the cheese to be golden brown and the edges dark but not enough to burn.
The time length will depend on your oven but it won't take long. Anywhere from 2-4 minutes. This also finishes the bacon. Broil to your liking and you're done.
Nanny's finished open-faced bacon tomato cheese sandwich - Easy to make lunch, hot and ready to eat
Finished broiling? Time to eat.
The cheese will be bubbling and the tops will golden. The smell will tantalize your taste buds. Bacon edges will crisp and the broiled tomatoes will be hot. You'll know it's time to eat.
What to do with leftovers
We love Nanny's sandwiches so much we always make more than we think we'll eat. One, because we always eat more than we think we will, and two, because we like to put them in the fridge and warm them up in the microwave later.
Finished sandwich using white bread
Have fun cooking with kids
Cooking with your kids is a great activity for parents and children to share but it isn't limited to the parent-child relationship. Some of my favorite cooking memories happened with my grandmother, my aunt, and my "second" moms.
Vegan or Vegetarian?
Vegan or Vegetarian substitutes
Vegan Cheese alternatives - For those needing non-dairy products or are vegan or vegetarian
With the growing popularity of vegan and vegetarian lifestyles, there are plenty of opportunities to adapt this recipe. While I often go to the nearest Whole Foods, many groceries offer cheese alternatives that would work for this recipe.
Yes, there are substitutes for bacon
When you are looking to substitute, remember, vegetarian is NOT vegan. If you're trying the total Vegan approach it's recommended that the item actual lists "vegan" on the label.
More simple lunch sandwiches
Are you fan of the Grilled Cheese Sandwich? - Classic easy to make sandwich
Kiss a Frog, Get a Chef - Cute Disney Cooking video on making the famous Monte Cristo Sandwich
Simple and quick lunch recipe.