Copyright Photograph Sandra A. Gutierrez, 2010; All Rights Reserved. Do not publish or use without written authorization.
Today I offer you crunchy, creamy, buttery, refreshing and crisp all in one bite of total goodness! My take on a classic, this one is a lighter version of a favorite sandwich.
Winter has been long and cold this year in the Carolinas. By the time the calendar marked the arrival of March, I was ready for a bit of sunshine in my days. The first sight of robins in my backyard this weekend, made it official for me: Spring is here!
And with it, a sudden craving for fresher, lighter meals. This is my modern take on the traditional bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich. Only a few ingredients are needed and total prep-time for this recipes is a whopping 5 minutes! Can't beat that when you're hungry and in a hurry to get lunch on the table.
The old mantra of "simple is better" comes immediately to mind. This recipes uses only a few ingredients and therefore, these elements must be the best you can find. Let me deconstruct this for you:
Start with great bread. Forget that sweetened, white, sponge bread and replace it with quality, whole-grain artisan bread. I purchase mine at La Farm Bakery, in Cary www.lafarmbakery.com where Master Baker Lionel Vatinet crafts two-pound loaves of perfectly nutty, whole wheat bread that toasts crispy on the outside and remains meaty on the interior. A heavenly and very appropriate base for my tartine (open-faced sandwich).
Use only the best mayonnaise you can find, or make your own. My favorite brand is Duke's mayonnaise (like a good southerner) mostly because it is sugar free--which to me, tastes closest to homemade mayo. Of course, feel free to make your own. Although, on days when I'm hurried and harried, making mayonnaise is the last thing on my mind.
The tomatoes: Granted. Finding good tomatoes in the middle of winter is not easy. Definitely not local. But good tomatoes start arriving in local stores from other parts of the country and I find that plum and cherry tomatoes have pretty good flavor (and none of that mealy texture that other varieties have). Remember to salt and pepper your tomatoes after slicing them; this little step makes a huge difference.
Avocados are abundant in grocery stores near me and thankfully, I find them year-round. I am partial to the Haas avocados (tiny, with green exteriors that turn black as they ripen). I always have avocados at home--always. I suggest you purchase them green and hard and allow them to ripen at room temperature in your kitchen counter. When they yield slightly to pressure, they are ready (and when their little stem pulls out easily and expose a vibrant, green belly button). Halve, seed, peel (I pull skin off carefully but you can scoop flesh out with a spoon), and rub with lime or lemon juice to prevent it from browning. Slice thinly and season with lemon juice and a bit of salt.
Finally, the star of it all--the bacon. I purchase nitrate-free and antibiotic-free bacon locally and cook it until it is crispy. The easiest way to do this is to line a baking sheet with parchment and bake the bacon at 350 degrees until bacon is crispy and golden. No mess to contend with. Simply discard paper and rendered fat. I save mine for cooking but you may throw it in the garbage--NEVER down the drain. Chop your bacon finely.
For the assembly: Toast your bread until crispy. Spread with mayonnaise and top with tomatoes and avocado. Sprinkle liberally with bacon.
Lunch is ready!
What are your favorite toppings for tartines?
Copyright Sandra A. Gutierrez, 2010: All Rights Reserved. For partial or whole reprints of this article, contact Sandra by leaving a comment below. No reprinting permission without prior written consent.