BLT: Summer in a Sandwich
From our friend Leslie Land, New York Times Food & Garden Writer
You have to grow the
lettuce in the shade (of the tomato plants, for
instance) but other than that, August and September
are glory time for one of the greatest food items
ever assembled, that lunch of lunches, the BLT.
Can’t really say
there’s only one recipe. Say rather there’s only one
correct set of components .
A Proper BLT:
the Bacon: Local pork. No nitrates. Put slices in
a single layer in a heavy cast-iron skillet . Cook
slowly, turning often, until most of the fat is
rendered and the bacon is well-browned and crisp.
Drain. Save fat for cornbread, fried green tomatoes
and other bacon fat needy items.
( For a while there I was doing the bacon in the
microwave, sandwiching it between unbleached paper
towels according to micro directions. It got very
crisp and was notably un-greasy, but all that lovely
bacon fat was lost and the crispness of the bacon
was an oddly dry, industrial crispness reminiscent
of fake bacon bits. )
the Lettuce: Preferably from the garden. Crisp
but not agribusiness-romaine crisp; it has to play
well with others while adding a light, fresh note to
the Tomatoes: Ripe on the edge of falling apart
but not falling over it. The ones in the picture
are, clockwise from top: Aunt Ruby’s German Green,
one of the sweetest heirlooms available; Japanese
Black Trifele, a high-yielding, deep-flavored
“black” and Sophie’s Choice.
the Mayonnaise: Homemade mayonnaise is all very
well, but NOT on a BLT, which should be made with
Hellmann’s. period. The jar in the picture contains
a version made with lime juice for the Latino market
and alas not available everywhere. Good though.
And thus we come to the ringer,
the Bread: That’s a ciabatta in the picture and it
did make a tasty sandwich, but a naturally-leavened
bread full of big holes in the European style is not
right for a BLT.
What’s wanted is old fashioned Pullman bread, aka
pain de mie, the bread that got debased into Wonder
Bread. Properly made, the square, soft-crusted loaf
has a very tight even crumb and just a tiny touch of
sweetness to go with the blended flavors of milk and
a link to Leslie's wonderful Cooking and Gardening
Leslie Land, The New York Times
Lettuce and Tomato Confit Sandwich
our customer and friend, Lora Zarubin, Food
& Wine Editor for LA, the Los Angeles Times
intensity of the tomato confit transforms this BLT
from the ordinary to the sublime.
Makes 4 sandwiches.
4 slices tomato confit
12 slices smoked bacon
8 slices sourdough, 1/2 inch slices
4 tablespoons mayonnaise
4 fresh romaine lettuce leaves, washed and patted dry
Salt and pepper to taste
4 ripe but
firm heirloom tomatoes, approximately 3/4 pound each
tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
oven to 200 degrees.
Bring a pot
of water, (large enough to hold all the tomatoes), to a boil. Cut an
X across the back of each tomato. When the water is boiling plunge
the tomatoes into the boiling water for 30 seconds. Remove and cool.
When the tomatoes are cool enough to handle peel off the skin. Cut
the tomatoes in quarters. Carefully with a sharp knife cut along the
inside of each tomato and remove the heart and seeds.
tomatoes cut side down in a non reactive baking pan large enough to
hold all 24 pieces. Drizzle the olive oil over the tomatoes. With a
pastry brush baste all the tomatoes with the olive oil. Bake
uncovered for 1 hour. Remove and cool. Place the tomatoes in a
container and cover with remaining oil. Refrigerate until ready to
skillet large enough for all the strips of bacon, or heat two
skillets so that you can cook all the bacon at once. Cook the bacon
until golden brown and crisp but not totally crisp and brown. Place
the bacon on a plate lined with paper towels and place in a warm
oven (175 degrees) until ready to assemble the sandwiches.
slices of bread and place on a chopping board in two rows. Spread 1
tablespoon of mayonnaise for every two slices. Place the romaine
leaf folded on the bottom row of toasted bread. Place 4 slices of
the tomato confit over the romaine leaves.
bacon from the oven and place 3 slices of bacon over the tomato
confit. Cover with the top slice of bread and slice in half. Serve
LA, the Los Angeles Times
The Ultimate California
Nieman Ranch Applewood Smoked Bacon, fried crisp
Thick slices large Heirloom tomato (Aunt Gertie's Gold,
Brandywine, other favourite)
Freshly ground 5-colour French peppercorns
Slices of just ripe Hass avocado
2 slices lightly toasted Sourdough San Francisco bread
Best Foods Mayo slathered on the bread
Butter Lettuce leaf, optional
Open wide and enjoy! Hold over sink or plate while
Glass of California Chardonnay!
© Photograph property of
Terroir Seeds and Underwood Gardens
Whole grain bread spread
generously with mayo. Three or four slices of really crisp bacon. Thick
slices of tomato. Don't bother with lettuce.
Carolyn Ford from Arkansas
Texas Ham & Cheese & Tomato
My favorite tomato sandwich
is Prosciutto ham, smoked provolone cheese, sweet onion relish and
sliced Black Prince tomatoes on whole wheat bun. Add a few pickled
peppers and it magically disappears!
Carol Moss, Texas
Dev's Oklahoma Spam & Mater Sandwich
Slice the Spam ¼" thick and brown in an
olive-oiled pan. Toast the bread, (Oatnut is an excellent choice.)
Slather real mayo on the toast--both
slices. Sprinkle with Chimayo chile powder (smoked Ancho
powder is a close second.)
Two or three just-picked lettuce leaves.
Half inch slices of Cherokee Purple, still warm from the garden.
Make the sandwich. Uncork a Sam Adams.
Take the whole shebang out to the picnic table. Let the juice run
down your elbows.
Repeat as necessary.
Dev in Oklahoma
Janet's Mom's Maryland Favorite
My late mother's favorite was
an open faced, grilled cheese sandwich with crisp bacon and a big
slice of tomato. She did them on a stovetop in a skillet but
ran them under the broiler for a minute at the very end.
I am definitely needing a
vine ripened tom in the worst way...
Janet Searcy Wintermute of
Maryland, in honor of her mom, Josephine Murphy Searcy
(Editor's note: Janet
confesses that during those days Velveeta was the cheese of choice.
I must confess, too. Hi, my name's Laurel and I like Velveeta. My family ate a lot of Velveeta in the 50's and 60's,
eventually I learned about the delights of real cheese...wouldn't
turn down a nice slice of Velveeta, though. ~ Laurel)
Canadian Variations on
Boy, a person would think
all we tomato lovers think about is tomatoes, tomatoes, tomatoes....
It looks like the basic
sandwich is tomato, bacon, lettuce, mayo. That is a good base to
start with. The little differences are the breads. White bread,
pumpernickel, sourdough, rye, brown, toast, Italian.
The bacon must be smoked,
though. You can have bre'-fass bacon, side bacon, pee-meal
bacon. Oh!!!! and the bacon must be semi-crisp/crisp.
The lettuce has to be fresh, leaf lettuce, iceberg lettuce, head
ANDS lots of mayo....you
know what? You could throw a fried egg in there and nobody
would complain. Condiments could be salt, pepper, ketchup...does
life get any better than this?
What about if we fry the
bacon, then fry three large shrimp until tender. Put that on the
lettuce, tomato, Mayo, and put that on a Hoagie bun??? Or as we say
in Canada, on a submarine bun.
OOOOHHHHHHhhhh.... I'm almost tempted to go the A & P and buy
some tomatoes.... ;)
Come on summer.
Stan in Canada
Sunny's No-Bread Hawaiian Special
One thick slice big, red,
juicy delicious tomato.
Fresh ground Mediterranean
Fresh ground black pepper.
Put salt and pepper on
tomato slice. Kick back, eat and enjoy!
Sunny Hills of Lahaina,
Heaven on Toast
My favorite tomato sandwich
is YOURS! LOL. I'm hungry now.
I like OroWheat bread
toasted, with a big ol juicy slice of tomato, like the Alpine Lace
Tomato, fresh lettuce from the garden, a little mayo, salt and
pepper. It's heaven on toast.
Janet A., Keeper of the
Seeds, Buena Park, California
Caprese Style Grilled Tomato Sandwich
with Mozzarella and Basil
Here's a great
chance to do something different with your Double grill/George
Foreman (style) grill.
Olive oil, any
Kosher salt for
Heirloom Tomato of
your choice, depending on what you’re in the mood for.
Preheat your grill
baguette into 1” angled slices/crostinis. (The ‘angling’ adds
length and looks fancy).
Brush each side of
crostini with just a bit of olive oil, place onto large plate
Place slice of
mozzarella on ½ of the crostinis, ensure slice of cheese is not
too big as to make bigger mess on grill.
Place basil leaf
or leaves on top of mozzarella.
slice/piece/chunk/fragment – whatever you can find of the tomato
you told no one to nibble - onto the basil.
Sprinkle a pinch
of salt onto tomato. Finally, add a crostini to the top.
Isn’t it cute??
Place one or 2
‘sandwiches’ onto grill and close. These are your test
subjects. Grill, eat, discuss.
Park-Tucker, Saugus, California
Japanese Black Trifele
Creation from Illinois
of fresh, thick bakery bread
A nice big slice of your
little Miracle Whip and Dijon mustard
flavored bacon and fresh spinach or just a piece of fresh
crisp lettuce, salt and pepper.
Katie in Effingham, Ill.
Sweet Charlie Kemp's Saucy
Take 2 slices of whole wheat bread and toast them.
Butter each piece.
1 Big slice of tomato
Some lettuce, your favorite
1 slice of sweet onion
Salt and Pepper
Now for my sauce:
Mix in small bowl:
2 tsp Miracle Whip
3-4 drops of hot sauce
3-4 drops of soy sauce
1/2 tsp Ketchup
And just a touch of Pineapple Juice
Put it all together, set back and enjoy.
A Tasty Cottage
spread some cottage cheese on your favorite whole wheat bread,
top with a slice of tomato, sprinkle on some salt and pepper, and
top with another slice of bread.
eating these as
long as I can remember, especially when her tomatoes from her
garden started to ripen.
She would also add
a tomato slice to her grilled cheese sandwiches before grilling.
Ed and Mary
Ogershok, Lake Dallas Texas
Neves Azorean Red
tomato sandwiches...is there a bad tomato sandwich? Impossible!
slices of your favorite bread spread with mayo
Sprinkle with celery salt and a little black pepper; pepper is
optional ~ celery salt isn't!
your favorite slice of tomato, or for the kids and for tea
parties I dice the tomatoes and quarter the sandwiches...it
makes them easier to eat.
Sometimes we add a slice of Havarti cheese ~ it's delicious
baguette, crunchy on the outside, soft inside
Slices of Mozzarella Cheese
Slices of favorite Tomato
Assemble sandwich and drizzle with your favorite Balsamic
Vinaigrette dressing or toss ingredients with dressing first,
then put in baguette.
into individual sizes. When you taste it you'll make them bigger
recipe can also be made into a salad. Just dice instead of
slice the tomato and serve the baguette on the side to dip into
balsamic vinaigrette-my husband's favorite summer meal.
you enjoy them!
Joy Hamari, Copperopolis, California
Mom & Dad's Connecticut Sandwich
I grew up on this sandwich, it really
doesn't get much simpler!
Fresh White Bread (homemade if possible )
Thick slice of your favorite straight from the garden tomato!!
It's the simple things in life that bring such joy!!
Matt & Loring Kidd, Connecticut
Berkeley Tie Dye
Debbie's Buttered Delight
Two slices fresh white bread, toasted
Room temperature butter (real organic
Slather the butter on one piece of the
toast (while the toast is still warm)
One thick slice of your best garden
tomato (or a couple of small thick slices) depending on the size
of the tomato.
Add the other piece of toast and chomp
Sometimes I will add a little cucumber
or bell pepper to mine, but my father probably rolls over in
this grave when I do that!
Debbie, West Virginia
This is a sandwich that
I've eaten for years, as does my daughter now.
I have to have all of the
"stuffing" for the sandwich fresh out of the garden.
(Except the sweet onion which I don't grow)
Two slices of good whole
Slather (generously) the
mayo (Best Foods) on both slices.
Cut a 1/2" slice of your
very best tomato fresh from the garden.
Sprinkle with a little salt
& pepper & spread with more mayo.
Cut a sweet onion into a
1/4" slice & top the tomato.
Spread onion with a little
Peel a "Dill Sized" pickling
cuke & slice lengthwise into thick slices.
Place on the onion.
Sprinkle with just a little more salt.
Top the whole thing with the
second slice of bread.
HANG OVER THE SINK TO EAT,
CAUSE YOU'RE GOING TO DRIP!
San Francisco Sourdough Summer
My dad was an
airline pilot and he used to fly to San Francisco
regularly. He also grew wonderful beefsteak
tomatoes. As a result, I grew up waiting eagerly
for my favorite summer sandwich:
Two slices of fresh
San Francisco Sourdough Bread spread with Mayo.
Two slices of
beefsteak tomato (salt and pepper optional!)
And welcome to
Kim Ellsworth-Evans, Warrenton, VA
Cheese Double Delight From New York
Here are 2 sandwiches that my mother made every summer
when the tomatoes were ripe from the garden.
The first you can
make it with either a good pumpernickel or good white bread and the second
is best with a
good white bread. Both are simple.
Just 4 things are needed:
Good bread (we don't toast
Good tomatoes warm from the garden
Spread the cream cheese on the bread, place the tomato
slices on top,
place sliced onion on the tomato, place bread on top of
(more cream cheese if you like) and eat.
Good tomatoes warm from the garden
Sliced hard boiled eggs
Good Swiss cheese
Hellman's mayo (for the east coast) and Best Food's (for
salt and pepper
Assemble and eat!
Fran from New York
I guess I'd qualify as a new customer since I'm headed to your
plant sale today! Here's my favorite way to enjoy tomatoes...
Thinly slice fresh-from-the-garden tomatoes.
Take a nice, airy, crispy croissant and slice in half
Onto that toasty, buttery goodness, pile the tomato slices,
the whole thing with very good olive oil, dust with salt and
Spread your elbows wide to avoid having tomato juice
your arms, take a bite and try not to be distracted by the
choirs you hear every time you enjoy a real tomato sandwich!
Oh yeah, and if you want to get fancy and do this California
avocado slices and the very best crispy bacon you can find.
Arkansas, I go with locally-made Petit Jean brand pepper-smoked
bacon. Pure bliss!
Kariamu of California
Garden-Fresh OLT (Onion, Lettuce & Tomato)
My Mother raised me on this garden fresh
Two slices fresh bread, toasted or
Room temperature butter (real butter)
Slather the butter on one piece of the bread
One thick slice of your best garden tomato
(or a couple of small thick slices) depending on the size of the
Two green onions cut in half; use both the
green tops and white onion part
Joe Wootan, Bloomington, In.
Berkeley Tie Dye
Peanut Butter, natural
Your favorite bread
Two think slices of your favorite beefsteak type heirloom
Before the snickering dies down, I want to say that if
you haven't tasted this amazing combination, stop
snickering. You will thank me for this revelation that
I have been turning Heirloom growers on to for a long
As the name implies, this is a PB&J without the J. Just
spread a natural peanut butter (No Skippy or other
hydrogenated concoction) on your favorite bread. Almost
doesn't matter what bread, although wheat seems to get
the edge here. Add two thick slices of your fave
beefsteak size Heirloom. Sprinkle a little sea salt,
cover with second slice of bread and start making
It has taken me years to figure out why this is so good.
The answer is elegantly simple. Its amazing for the
same reason a PB&J is such an American favorite.
Tomatoes are fruit and so is jelly. The fruitiness of
the tomato creates an even better taste chemistry than
Welch's Concord Grape Jelly.
So, laugh all you will, my friends, but remember, he who
laughs last, laughs best.
I'll wait for the applause to die down.
Pacific Palisades CA
Some other yummy tomato recipes:
Roasted Tomato Sauce
From Mary Drabik in Minnesota
5 pounds assorted heirloom tomatoes,
cored and quartered
A small head of garlic,
cut across the equator
3 basil sprigs
2 oregano sprigs
3 thyme sprigs
1-2 fresh, hot,
thin-walled peppers (I used zagary peppers) optional
¼ cup olive oil
1-teaspoon fresh ground
Combine above ingredients and roast in
a roasting pan for 30 minutes to 1 hour depending on how
watery your tomatoes are.
While the tomatoes
Melt: 3 tablespoons butter in a large
pot. Gently cook the following vegetables in the butter
1 pound onion cut into
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped carrots
Add the roasted tomato mixture to the
vegetables and cook together on a low simmer for 30
minutes. Use an immersion blender to blend the sauce or
cool and blend in a blender of food processor. Return to
heat and reduce the sauce to desired consistency. This
sauce is great and freezes well. Yield: 2 quarts
Marinated Tomato and Cheese Pasta Sauce
4 ripe large tomatoes
cut into ½ inch cubes. I do not seed the tomatoes. The sauce may
be a little more watery but the flavor is TERRIFIC!
1 pound Brie Cheese, rind removed, cut
into irregular pieces
1 cup fresh basil leaves cut into a
thin strips (or use small basil leaves from the globe
varieties and leave the leaves whole
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
2/3 cup best quality olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black
Combine all ingredients in a large
serving bowl. Let stand covered at room temperature for at
least 2 hours.
Cook 1 pound pasta and keep warm.
Stir in the sauce immediately and serve with parmesan
cheese, if desired.
From Mary Drabik in Minnesota
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