Bacon Lettuce and Tomato Salad

Although the famous BLT is a favorite of mine, I haven't limited this irresistible combo of flavors to sandwiches. Over decades of cooking I have revisited the exquisite pairing of crispy bacon, juicy ripe tomatoes, and fresh salad greens in many forms.

For a while, my summer appetizer of choice was BLT bruschette in which peasant bread was toasted and rubbed with garlic, then topped with the celestial trio. A pasta salad (grape tomatoes, bacon, and chopped arugula tossed with farfalle and coated in a Parmesan dressing) and BLT quesadillas (tortillas spread with creamy goat cheese, then mounded with the winning threesome) have been other special creations.

This year a BLT summer salad is taking center stage on my menus, especially when entertaining. Heirloom tomatoes (choose red, green, yellow, deep purple or whatever your markets and farm stands have on hand) are marinated in a simple vinaigrette and arranged on a platter or on individual salad plates. A garnish of mixed greens tossed in more of the dressing is added next. Then, crumbled blue cheese and bits of bacon are sprinkled over the salad as final flourishes.

This Bacon Lettuce and Tomato Salad recipe is quite versatile. Offer it as a first course for a summer supper or make it a side dish when hosting a backyard barbecue. Or pair it with some crusty bread and a chilled soup and serve it as a light luncheon entree. It's as good as the sandwiches and just as addictive.

BLT Summer Salad Recipe

    Prep Time: 30 minutes

    Cook time: 10 minutes

    Yield: Serves 4

BLT Summer Salad Recipe Ingredients

    1 1/2 pounds ripe tomatoes, heirlooms in different colors such as red, yellow and green if possible (see note)

    2 tablespoons white or red wine vinegar

    1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

    1/2 teaspoon country Dijon or regular Dijon mustard

    1/3 cup olive oil

    6 generous cups (about 5 ounces) mixed greens

    4 bacon slices, fried until crisp, then drained and coarsely crumbled

    3 to 4 ounces crumbled blue cheese (Roquefort works well)

    Freshly ground black pepper

    Slice tomatoes into 1/4 inch thick slices and place in a shallow nonreactive dish.

    In a small nonreactive bowl, whisk together vinegar, salt and mustard. Whisk in olive oil. Pour half the mixture over the tomatoes and marinate them 1 to 1 1/2 hours at room temperature.

    When ready to serve, arrange tomatoes overlapping in the center of a large serving platter. Pour any juices that have collected in the dish over the tomatoes. Season with several grinds of pepper. Toss the greens with the remaining half of the vinaigrette dressing, whisking it well before using. Taste and season with salt and pepper if needed. Arrange the greens around the tomatoes. (Or, if you like, divide tomatoes evenly and arrange on 4 salad plates, then garnish with greens.) Sprinkle tomatoes and greens with crumbed bacon and blue cheese.

    Note: There are many varieties of heirloom tomatoes. I use whatever the local farmers bring to the Saturday market in our town. Reds often include Cherokee Purple and yellows have names like Nebraska Wedding and Indian Mist. Orange strains are labeled Jaune Flame and Marisol and greens are called Green Zebras and Pineapple. Any will do in this recipe. Just try to pick an assortment of varying colors, sizes and tastes.


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BLT Summer Salad - Bacon Lettuce and Tomato Salad Recipe

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