“One of the great American arts, which varies from being a triumph of being a disaster, is the art of sandwich making” ~ James Beard
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Over the weekend, as I washed fresh tomatoes at the kitchen sink, I couldn't help but think of how appreciative I am for all of the incredible gardens that are loving tended, by the people in our lives
As with many things in life, it's all quite simple really, at least in theory. Place a few seeds in the dirt, add some water, sunshine, and a bit of patience. Before you know it, you'll be unearthing greens and veggies of every possible shape and size
Having grown up on an Iowa farm, I've learned that growing anything can be far from
Gardening often includes fighting the elements, and fending off the critters who like to nibble everything off, right at ground level(!) Sometimes the sun is MIA until August, the soil isn't well-fertilized, or life gets busy, and there isn't much time to water
Somehow though, some things still manage to grow, even if it's only a handful of peas, a few raspberries, and a prolific patch of basil
In our case this summer, we've been spoiled by those we love. The hard work having already been done by the gardeners and the season. All we've had to do is get a little dirt under our fingernails as we help gather the bounty or open the front door to a wonderful surprise of excess that's been left by the sweetest of
Little is needed to make such fresh produce taste incredible. Imploring a few basic kitchen techniques like roasting and sautéing, and pretty soon we're biting into the richness produced by the soil and tasting the sweetness of the summer sun
These uncomplicated moments of summer's simple abundance are to be remembered, and most of all savored
There's nothing fancy about a BLT. It's simplicity at its finest. Although it requires a slight bit of attention to detail for that magical combination of flavors to hit all the right spots
If you're a follower of the site, you'll know one of my favorite things to do with an abundance of tomatoes is to roast them. Here, they concentrate into a sweet acidic bite that is the perfect complement to bacon and lettuce. All sandwiched between two pieces of lightly toasted bread
Add a bit of herbed mayo, and it's my latest favorite sandwich. One that can be eaten at any time or place, one I'll happily turn the oven on in the summer to make
Along the way, I've discovered there's much wisdom to be had when it comes to making the perfect BLT. A few of my favorite tips?
Bread – Nothing beats a soft loaf of homemade bread. It will make the sandwich (and really, your life) that much happier
Toast or not to Toast? Whatever you do, toast. Toasting prevents the bread from becoming overly soggy. Bonus points if you toast just one side, and make sure it faces inward. (You'll have all the crunch without the little cuts in your mouth)
Bacon – A thicker cut that's been smoked will offset the tomato's sweetness. Baking it in the oven is my favorite way. It's far less messy, and the strips will be evenly cooked and crispy. Plus, they'll lay perfectly on your sandwich
Lettuce – Iceberg brings a light, crisp, and consistent crunch. It's the only way to go
Mayo – A must (whether it's homemade or not). It's nice to have some with a bit of flavor, and fresh herbs are plentiful this time of year.
I tried my hand, and it turned out much better then I expected. If making homemade isn't for you, some finely chopped herbs blended into your favorite store-bought brand will still be great
Slicing? I'm fond of rectangles. My husband? Triangles.
It's all good
Want to read more about BLT perfection? Bon Appetit has written a great guide
A few other notes:
I've included the recipe for Mayo with Herbs and Garlic. If making mayo isn't for you, I'd add roughly 3 Tbsp chopped herbs per 1/2 cup mayo. Stir to combine.
The recipe for my favorite bread
~ Adapted slightly from Bon Appetit
Olive Oil Mayo with Herbs and Garlic
- 2 egg yolks (large or XL)
- 1 Tbsp white vinegar
- 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice + more to taste
- 1 tsp dry mustard
- 1 tsp kosher salt + more for seasoning
- ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper + more for seasoning
- 1 ½ cups olive oil
- 2 Tbsp chopped garlic
- 1 ½ Tbsp chopped chives
- 1 ½ Tbsp chopped parsley
- 1 ½ Tbsp chopped tarragon
- Place a large bowl on a folded damp kitchen towel to keep the bowl from slipping.
- Vigorously whisk yolks, vinegar, lemon juice, mustard, salt, pepper, and 1 Tbsp. water in a bowl to blend.
- While whisking continuously, slowly add oil drop by drop to form an emulsion.
- Continue whisking, slowly adding the remaining oil, until mayonnaise is smooth and creamy.
- Fold in garlic, chives, parsley, and tarragon.
- Season to taste with salt, pepper, and more lemon juice, if desired.
~ Adapted slightly from Ina Garten via Food Network
- 12 plum tomatoes, halved lengthwise, cores and seeds removed
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 1 ½ Tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tsp natural sugar (Sugar in the Raw or Turbinado)
- 1 ½ tsp kosher salt
- ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
- Preheat the oven to 450° F.
- Arrange the tomatoes on a sheet pan, cut sides up, in a single layer. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
- Sprinkle the garlic, sugar, salt, and pepper over the tomatoes.
- Roast for 25 to 30 minutes, until the tomatoes are concentrated and beginning to caramelize.
- Serve warm or at room temperature.