The classic BLT is one of the great culinary inventions of classic American cuisine, right up there with chocolate chip cookies and cheeseburgers. Its simplicity is a thing of beauty — and the fact that tomato season lines up perfectly with there’s-no-way-I’m-turning-on-the-oven season only makes it better. BLTs are a late-summer go-to in our house for dinner, lunch and sometimes even breakfast.
Now, I’m not suggesting you have to mess with perfection, but the BLT is such a good place to start. Here are five recipe ideas (not all of them sandwiches) inspired by the beloved combo of bacon, lettuce and tomato.
Fried green tomato BLT
Fried green tomatoes are a Southern classic, but deserve to be enjoyed everywhere. Although some heirloom tomato varieties are bright green when fully ripe, the green tomatoes I’m talking about here are actually just unripe tomatoes of any variety.
Unripe tomatoes rarely make it into grocery stores (in fact, retailers put a lot of work into making sure they don’t), but their tanginess is worth seeking out at a farmers market. If you grow tomatoes, this is a great way to get a jump start on enjoying your harvest, and to use up unripe tomatoes still on the vine at the end of the growing season.
Core and slice tomatoes into 1/2-inch rounds and pat dry with paper towels.
Combine dry ingredients in bowl. Crack egg into another, beating lightly with fork.
Dip each slice of tomato first in egg, and then in seasoned breadcrumbs.
Allow dredged tomatoes to rest while you heat 1/4 inch of vegetable oil in deep skillet. The oil is ready when it has a slight shimmer and when a bit of batter bubbles up immediately.
Fry tomato slices in single layer until golden brown. Set on paper towels to rest.
Prepare BLT as usual, substituting fried green tomato for fresh.
BLT Mason jar salad
BLTs do not travel well. The perfect blend of crispy, creamy, warm and cool dissolves into sad and mushy in about 15 minutes (not that anyone ever waits that long to eat one). But if you want to take a BLT to work, this salad can make that happen.
I scaled this recipe to make three salads so I can enjoy one every other day in a work week. Make as many or as few as you’ll enjoy in a week; they keep for several days. They’re delicious served with toast (if your office is equipped with toaster) or topped with croutons.
Tasty bonuses: The tomato marinates in the dressing as it sits, and the soft-boiled egg adds creaminess and plenty of protein to help you stave off 3 p.m. hangriness.
Keto bacon cauliflower cups with sun-dried tomato mayo
6 slices bacon
6 ounces chopped cauliflower
2 or 3 sun-dried tomatoes
4 tablespoons mayonnaise (to taste)
1 head lettuce (little gem or butter is ideal)
Fry bacon in large skillet. Set to rest on paper towels, but retain bacon fat in pan. Slice bacon into bite-size pieces when cool.
Sauté cauliflower in leftover bacon fat until golden brown.
Finely mince sun-dried tomatoes and stir into mayo.
Combine bacon and cauliflower. Divide mixture among lettuce leaves.
Top with sun-dried tomato mayo.
Vegan king oyster mushroom BLT
Ok, ok, I know there’s no such thing as vegan bacon, but just because you want to eat more plants doesn’t mean you have to give up all things smoky-savory-chewy-crispy-delicious. And for me, the best meat substitutes aren’t made from a dozen unidentifiable ingredients, but from plants that hold their own and don’t have to apologize for not being meat.
This mushroom BLT is a great way to enjoy more adaptogen-rich mushrooms, and who doesn’t love that? Plus, king oyster and trumpet mushrooms are some of the least expensive exotic mushrooms out there. If your grocery store doesn’t carry them, try an Asian grocery.
Tip: The mushroom fibers grow vertically, so a diagonal cut will make it easier to bite through while still holding together.
Combine spices, soy sauce and maple syrup in medium bowl.
Add mushrooms and turn to coat. Marinate for 20 minutes, turning as needed. (You can also do this in plastic bag.)
Preheat oven to 350 F. Set heatproof cooling rack on foil-lined tray.
Fry mushroom slices in oil until well-browned. Rest on paper towel.
Move fried mushrooms to rack and bake for 3-5 minutes until crisp at edges.
Prepare sandwich as usual, substituting fried mushrooms for bacon. Spread bread with favorite vegan mayo.
Roasted tomatoes with bacon-y greens
This one is just straight-up blasphemous in terms of the venerable BLT, but it still has all the right elements — and I think you might forgive me once you taste it. For this variation, use any dark, leafy green you like; spinach, Swiss chard and kale work beautifully. Serve with roasted potatoes for some true comfort food.