Summertime is the best of times and the worst of times.
When it's hot and humid, nothing makes me happy except air conditioning. But all that heat is good for the garden and summertime tomatoes benefit from all that sun. Luckily we have neighbors who generously share the beautiful tomatoes that grow in their garden.
A BLT is my favorite way to enjoy tomatoes. Acidic-sweet tomato slices cozy up to crisp, salty bacon, crunchy lettuce leaves and the comfort of bread in the most satisfying of experiences.
When the rain beats against the dining room windows and the temperature hovers in the mid-40s, a wintertime BLT with hot house tomatoes on slices of a good wheat berry bread with a touch of Best Foods mayonnaise and a bowl of hot vegetable soup satisfies in a good way.
Summertime is something else altogether. First off, I don't want all that bread. In summertime, I want light and cool, not heft.
Open faced sandwiches are perfect for hot weather and an open faced BLT with a slice of avocado is refreshingly delicious. Add a tall glass of iced tea or icy homemade lemonade and you have all you'll need for a refreshing summertime meal.
Use any kind of bread you love. Personally I prefer thin sliced French or Italian bread for my open faced sandwiches. Depending on the size of the loaf, you will need two to six slices per person.
My favorite bread for a BLT is the Italian bread from Bay Cities Deli in Santa Monica. Light with a thin crust, the bread perfectly compliments the sandwich's toppings.
To keep its shape, the slices should be lightly toasted.
Open Face BLT with Avocado
Time 30 minutes
8-24 slices of bread, lightly toasted
8-10 slices of bacon
2 ripe avocados, washed
4 ripe large tomatoes, washed, stem and blossom end removed
8 romaine leaves, ribs removed, or a handful of arugula leaves without the stems, washed, dried
8-16 slices of bread and butter pickles (optional)
Sea salt and black pepper
Set the lightly toasted slices of bread aside to cool.
In batches, cook the bacon in a large frying pan or griddle on a medium-low flame. Turn the slices frequently for even browning, being careful to cook through all the fatty pieces. Place paper towels on a plate. When each bacon strip is cooked, lay it on the paper towel to drain.
While cooking, pour off excess grease into a coffee tin for later disposal.
Cut the cooked bacon pieces so they are the same length as the toasted bread slices.
Depending on your preference, make thin or thick slices of tomatoes and set aside.
When you are ready to assemble the sandwiches, cut the avocados in half, remove the peel and discard the pit. Since the avocado flesh will discolor once it is exposed to the air, do this last step just before serving.
Spread mayonnaise on each slice of lightly toasted bread, place avocado slices on the bread, covering the surface. Lay romaine or arugula leaves on the bacon. Add a slice of tomato, pickle slices (optional) and lastly the bacon slices. Season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Serve with an ice cold beverage, a tossed salad and fresh fruit for dessert.
Lightly dust the avocado with cayenne for heat.
Instead of lettuce or arugula use watercress leaves for a peppery flavor.
Toss the avocado slices in a mix of 2 parts olive oil and 1 part fresh lemon juice before placing on the sandwich.
To make an open-faced melted cheese sandwich, lay thin slices of Irish or English cheddar cheese on top of the sandwich, place in a preheated, 350 degree toaster oven for 5 minutes to melt the cheese, 1 minute in a toaster oven set on broil and cook until the top of the cheese lightly browns. Serve warm.
David Latt is an Emmy-award winning television producer who turns to cooking to alleviate stress. He shares his experiences with food and his favorite recipes on his blog Men Who Like To Cook.
by Chef Mark Shoup