BLT=bacon, lettuce, and tomato, and it’s as simple as that. At the restaurant, I enjoyed quite a few for lunch. It was quick and could easily be taken back to my desk and eaten while working without making a mess. But, I was always amazed how many customers came into the restaurant and ordered a BLT. I always thought why don’t they just make it themselves, so one day when a regular customer ordered one, I asked. He said in order to do so, he would have to buy a package of bacon, a tomato, a head of lettuce, and a loaf of bread. As a widower, he said not only would it cost him more but he would probably end up wasting food for he would never eat it all.
How many times have you bought a head of lettuce, a tomato or two, and bacon for BLT’s or for dressing up other sandwiches like hamburgers only to have half remaining? I know I have, because it doesn’t take much to make a sandwich! (That’s why I have leftovers…last week’s tuna burger BLT’s) So here’s a recipe to make use of those leftovers.
BLT Pasta: In a pasta pot, boil your preference of pasta. I find shaped pastas work well in this dish, elbow, penne, farfalle (bow tie), or fusilli (corkscrew). I used whole wheat penne. This recipe is enough for 5-6 cups cooked pasta. Prepare and drain reserving 1/4 cup of the pasta water.
In an iron skillet, cook 6-8 slices bacon, chopped until cooked to your desired crispiness. Remove bacon pieces to drain. Reserve 1 tsp bacon fat (sounds better than bacon grease doesn’t it!) and add it back to the skillet. In the skillet over medium high heat, saute 1 small onion, diced and 1-2 garlic cloves, minced (depending on garlic preference, for me 3-4 cloves, I love garlic!) for 5 minutes.
Now for that lettuce that has been hanging out in your fridge, hopefully wrapped in wet paper towels in a bag! Yep, I admit, that is my lettuce, that’s why it is time to use it. Lettuce that is not crispy or looking too fresh for a salad does great in this recipe! Add 1/2 a head of lettuce, broken in half, it’s O.K. if it is more and 1 cup chicken broth. (I always use unsalted.) Saute for 5 minutes. Turn over and saute 5 more minutes, stirring occasionally. The mixture should be reduced by half. (Like cooking cabbage, you start with a mammoth amount and end with a small portion!) Add 2 tomatoes, chopped and any juice to the skillet. I add some freshly cracked pepper. Toss a few times. Remove from heat and cover pan. In a separate skillet, over medium heat, add the 1/4 cup pasta water, pasta, and the bacon pieces. (I like to save a few crispy pieces to sprinkle on top before serving.) Stir in the lettuce and tomato mixture. Now to pull this whole dish together, let’s add my favorite shortcut, beurre manie, “kneaded butter” http://wp.me/p57UhS-cZ Remember it? Take 1 TBSP each of softened butter and flour. Knead together in a ball and stir it into the simmering skillet. Turn up the heat to high and stir continuously for one minute. Look at that delicious thick sauce the beurre manie is creating. (O.K. I know it is a Tablespoon of butter and a little bacon fat, but how much mayo do you usually put on your BLT sandwich?!) That’s it. Remove from heat. I top mine with a little Parmesan cheese, because for me, it’s not pasta if it doesn’t have cheese and a sprinkle of the crispy bacon. All the great taste of a BLT in just one bite.
Put your TO COOK IS TO CREATE thinking cap on: What else do you like on your BLT? Mustard? Stir in a tsp of your favorite before removing from the stove. Cheese? Stir in a tablespoon or two of ricotta or mozzarella at the end until melted. I like a little blue cheese dressing on my BLT, so if I have any on hand, I will drizzle a little at the end or sprinkle some blue cheese crumbs on top. If you’re not an iceberg lettuce fan, just substitute your favorite lettuce, cabbage, or spinach. Want to make the pasta heartier? Add in some cooked diced turkey or chicken, good way to use up rotisserie chicken, too. Are you missing the bread? Add a few croutons on top or serve with bread sticks.
FOOD FUN: According to foodreference.com, it is said that the BLT is the second most ordered sandwich in the U.S. Do you know what the first is? (I guessed grilled cheese and I was wrong.) It is the plain ham sandwich! I suppose that would explain why club sandwiches are so popular, a combination of both!