With tomatoes in season, there is no place I’d rather be than North Carolina. Growing up, one of my all-time favorite foods was a tomato sandwich — just bread, big slices of ripe tomatoes, mayo and plenty of salt and pepper. There were hot summer days when I would be perfectly happy to have a tomato sandwich and nothing else except maybe a big glass of iced tea.
In my mind, the BLT is a fancy tomato sandwich. If you are trying to be traditional, white bread is the way to go but a good local sourdough is permissible. Smear both pieces generously with mayo, then add slices of tomato and salt and pepper. From there you can continue to build your sandwich anyway you like –crispy bacon and crunchy lettuce for the classic BLT or add sliced turkey and another slice of bread to make a triple-decker club sandwich. In the end, it all comes down to the perfectly ripened tomato, something we, in the Pacific Northwest, can only get during the summer. At the University Farmers Market you can get tomatoes from Billy’s, lettuce from Let Us Farm (Tolt’s) or Willie Green’s and bacon from Skagit River Ranch or Wooly Pigs .
If you are thinking about that bathing suit you need to fit into and want a little less bread, try a BLT salad. I found this recipe on epicurious.com and don’t know why I haven’t thought of it before. It makes a lighter meal than the traditional BLT without sacrificing the essential ingredients.
BLT Salad (2 servings)
6 bacon slices
1/4 loaf Italian bread cut into cubes
1/4 t minced garlic
1T fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 small sliced red onion (or Walla Walla Sweet)
1/2 lb. halved cherry tomatoes (or sliced beefstake tomato)
In a skillet cook bacon over moderate heat until crisp on both sides. Reserving 1 tablespoon bacon fat in the skillet, cut or crumble bacon and drain on paper towels. Saute bread cubes in the bacon fat until golden brown. Transfer croutons to paper towels to drain & cool.
For the dressing: in a small bowl whisk together garlic, lemon juice, mayonnaise, water, salt and pepper.
In a large bowl toss together sliced onion, tomatoes, half the bacon, croutons, salt & pepper to taste and enough dressing to coat.
Divide the salad between 2 plates and top with remaining croutons & bacon.