When I get struck by a craving for something SCJ (savory, crunchy, juicy), nothing fits the bill better than a BLT. But why settle for the sandwich form when there are so many other possibilities? Some of my favorite alternative ways to serve up a BLT are 1) as a salad, 2) in tomato cups, 3) in mini bread bowls, 4) as lettuce wraps, 5) as a dip, and 6) in bacon cups.
Now, I am not going to tell you how to make your BLT. That celestial combination of bacon, lettuce, and tomato is itself an alchemy for any SCJ craving. The umami punch of the bacon is perfectly countered by acidic notes from the tomato, and rounded out with a crunch of good old-fashioned iceberg lettuce.
That being said, I won't deny that I LOVE a little avocado in my BLT. The creamy texture enhances the mouthfeel, while the buttery and nutty taste just brings a little more oomph to the party. That being said, don't feel obliged to use avocado. No pressure. Really.
Without further ado... here are 6 new ways to experience the BLT (you'll notice they all use avocado, too).
Easy to make and even easier to enjoy. Simply chop up some iceberg lettuce, then top with sliced tomato and bacon crumbles. Recommended dressings are a simple Italian or creamy ranch.
To make these, cut off the top quarter of a tomato, and remove the tomato heart with a knife, as if it were a vampire. (Just kidding. Everyone knows you need to put a stake through a vampire's heart.) A grapefruit knife is particularly well suited to this task if you have it. Fill each tomato cup with half a teaspoon of sour cream first, then a pinch of iceberg lettuce and a few small pieces of bacon and avocado as desired.
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Given that this recipe calls for tomato hearts, it's a great dish to make in conjunction with the tomato cup version of BLTs featured above. To prepare the bread, cut a baguette into 2 inch long pieces. Scoop out the soft bread center, leaving a layer about ¼ inch thick at the bottom. Toast until browned on the outer edges.
Inside each baguette bowl, place one tomato heart. Because tomato hearts are very juicy, the toasted bread will quickly absorb the juices and take on a wonderful flavor. Next, fill with iceberg lettuce and add a few small pieces of bacon. If desired, add avocado.
The last time I was at PF Chang's, I ordered their signature lettuce wraps and couldn't help but think, "Man, as good as this wok-seared tofu is, what if it was filled with... "—you guessed it. Bacon, tomato, and (if you want) avocado.
And so the concept of BLT lettuce wraps was born. To make, cut a head of iceberg lettuce in half, and extract a few cup-like leaves. Fill with a slice of bacon, tomato pieces, and (if desired) avocado, sour cream, or dressing.
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Part BLT, part 7-layer dip, this appetizer is a huge crowd-pleaser. Layer sour cream, chopped tomatoes, chopped iceberg lettuce, bacon, and (if desired) avocado. Serve with chips, crackers, or sliced baguette.
To create these little bacon cups, arrange bacon slices in a lined muffin tin and bake at 350°F for 10–12 minutes, or until edges are crispy. Allow the bacon cups to cool, and then fill with lettuce and tomato. If you're more DIY, you can also make cups entirely out of bacon and skip the liners.
Have some ideas of your own on how to mix up the traditional BLT? Share them below in a comment!