3 Ways: BLT

Is the summertime glut of tomatoes from your garden turning your counter top into a short-term produce terminal? Kindly coworkers dropping excess tomatoes on your desk? Or perhaps you just picked up a couple knobby heirlooms at the farmers market?

What to do with these most delicious fruits of summer? BLTs, of course. A traditional bacon, lettuce, and tomato sandwich--three ingredients slapped between two slices of good bread--is simple and tasty enough. But when you are faced with a pile of tomatoes, you might want to try something different. We're here to help.

A few years back, a farmer friend suggested adding an extra "B" to the sandwich: basil. For years, that BBLT has been our go-to modification of the classic. So, you can start there. It's a lovely addition.

With that basil as a jumping-off point, we've come up with a few other takes--a sandwich, a salad, and a wrap (of sorts)--on our favorite simple summer dinner. Try one of all of these and let us know what you think!

Looking for a cider to pair with any of these? How about one of the many crisp, fruity rosé ciders that are ubiquitous this summer? We love Threadbare's Bouquet de Rosé and Swilled Dog's Rosé.

"BBLT" with Herbed Mayo & Fried Summer Squash

This sandwich adds fresh basil leaves, as noted above, then ups the herbage with a quick herbed mayo. Chop whatever you have on hand--parsley, sage, rosemary, or thyme?--and stir it in to some mayo. Make more than you think you might need for the number of sandwiches you are making. You'll want to use any leftovers the next day on a fried egg sandwich. If you'd like, add a little chopped garlic. Assemble your sandwich. Now, if you are feeling a little inspired and you have an excess of zucchini or other summer squash (we are growing Odessa summer squash), do a quick fry-up of thin rounds and add to your sandwich. It's quick and easy to add this step in: dredge squash slices in flour, then egg wash, then panko or seasoned bread crumbs. Pan fry in a thick slick of olive oil.

"BLT" Panzanella

Panzanella is an Italian bread salad. We've typically made ours with chopped tomatoes (the most colorful you can find), toasted bread cubes, mozzarella balls, basil, and a balsamic dressing. That's where we start with this take.

Chop tomatoes. Two or three big ones. Dress with a glug or two of balsamic vinegar and twice as much olive oil. Salt and pepper. Now let that sit for a bit while you do the rest.

On a baking sheet in a 400 degree oven, cook half a dozen slices of thick cut bacon till they are as floppy or crispy as you prefer. When done, remove from the oven and slide in a tray of cubed bread--Italian, French, sourdough, whatever. Give it a quick toast till it gets, well, toasty.

Chop bacon. Toss together the marinated tomatoes, bacon, bread cubes, and a handful of little mozzarella balls (halved). Or swap the mozz out for another mild, semi-soft cheese. Thinly slice ten or twelve basil leaves along with a few nice leafy lettuce leaves. Toss that in as well. Done and done.

"L" Wraps with Grilled "BT" Skewers (and Halloumi)

Avoiding carbs? We do that in our healthier moments. Usually on Mondays before the week beats us down and we gorge on pizza, donuts, and whatever other carb-packed foods find their way in front of us. This is a light dinner or pre-meal appetizer if you have the grill going that brings together our favorite summer flavors.

Pre-cook bacon--one piece per person for an appetizer portion, or two to three per person for a light main--in the microwave until it is just about to your liking. Make sure it is still flexible. Now you get to weave some bacon...

Take a metal skewer and poke it through the end of a slice of bacon. Then skewer a cherry tomato. Loop the bacon up over the tomato and skewer it again. Another tomato, another skewer of the bacon. Repeat until you get to the end of the slice of bacon.

Lightly grill the skewers until the tomatoes just start to pop.

You could serve these just like this, but then you are missing the lettuce. And what's a BLT without the lettuce? Technically, a BT. And that's not the topic at hand.

We served these in lettuce cups with a dollop of pesto (store bought works fine) because, as we've noted, basil works great with the BLT.

We also did some lily gilding by adding slices of halloumi, a Greek cheese you can find in most grocery stores. Halloumi doesn't melt. It gets warm and crispy and adds a fun, salty, squeaky layer to this fresh take on a BLT.

Let us know how you are BLT'ing this summer!