Savor summer tomatoes in a BLT sandwich

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By: Mary Ann Lienhart-Cross
lienhart@purdue.edu

jeffreyw/Flickr

Now is the time to make the most of the fresh tomato season and at our home, we have personally been working on this task by enjoying some of the best bacon lettuce/​spinach and tomato sandwiches.

This time of the year is really the only time of the year that I indulge in this tasty sandwich.

All of the ingredients are equally important, but I know the star of the sandwich is the bacon, so we will start with it. The quality of the bacon and how it is prepared makes all the difference.

Some of you will say bacon is expensive, and yes, the price of all bacon has really increased — but if you have an understanding of raising livestock and of food production, the increase in price makes sense.

For many of you, the taste and flavor of bacon has changed. Some of this has to do with the fact the today’s pork is leaner, the curing and smoking process is shorter, and really, can they slice it any thinner?

So when I am going to indulge in this sandwich, I like to spend my money on bacon from one of our local meat processing businesses or the service meat counter in the grocery store, as it is usually cut thicker.

I grew up in a bacon-cooking home and it was fried in the cast iron skillet, and that skillet was then used for frying raw potatoes and eggs.

Many of us who like bacon don’t like the mess it makes on the stove. I am always trying different ways of food preparation and for me, the only way to prepare it is to bake it. The first few times I did this, I used glass baking dishes and that was okay, but I wanted the flavor and texture of the bacon to be like it is when frying it in the cast iron skillet.

I set the oven at 350 degrees or higher, place the cast iron skillet in the oven so it gets hot and after five minutes or so, remove from the oven and carefully add the bacon, as it will sizzle.

I then return it to the oven to cook, checking it at 15 minutes and then turn it and set the timer for 10 minutes. The total cooking time is going to be dependent on the thickness of the bacon, the temperature the bacon is when you put it in the oven, the oven temperature and how crisp you want it.

A bonus for me in cooking bacon this way is that I can oven-bake a pound or more and then reheat it in the microwave for a short time and not have all the grease mess.

I have learned in creating my BLT sandwich that for my taste buds, it is the blending of all the flavors. I want whole wheat bread that is lightly toasted, which means I don’t want it to burn or to be too hard, and I like a big slice of bread.

On the bread, I want the salad dressing or mayonnaise to only be on the bread lightly and I want it spread right to the crust.

Next, huge slices of tomato that can be an inch or more thick. When there are several slices, they are always falling out.

So now I add the bacon. I have learned to break up the slices so I have flavor in every bite and then I don’t use as many slices. Next, I add lots of dark green leaf lettuce or spinach and more thick slices of tomatoes and the remaining bread.

I highly recommend having more than one napkin handy — and when the tomato juice runs down your arm, that is a true sign the tomato was vine ripened.

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