Sometimes the key to a successful "new" recipe is to rethink a proven old favorite.
Case in point: If you're fond of a good bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich, a k a BLT, then you're likely to be an equally big fan of BLT salad. It includes all the classic BLT sandwich ingredients -- bacon, lettuce, tomato, bread and mayonnaise -- only put together differently. For instance, there's lots more lettuce, and a sprinkling of croutons substitutes for the sandwich bread. The result is a kind of BLT chef salad.
I first encountered BLT salads almost a decade ago in an office building carryout hidden away on a Georgetown side street. Since then, the carryout has changed names a couple of times, moved once, and recently been sold. And, alas, BLT salads are no longer on the menu.
Undaunted, I managed to track down Gary Katz, the carryout's former owner, to ask about the salad. "It's nothing complicated," says Katz (quite correctly). "We just kind of did it by color. If it looked like it needed more red, we'd add more tomato. If it looked like it needed more brown, we'd add more bacon bits." Between us, we devised the definitive, "correct" two-person BLT salad recipe that follows. As before, it remains open to personal preference adjustments.
Katz says he came up with the idea for the salad after being served something similar in a Kansas restaurant while visiting a friend. When he came back to D.C., he started making BLT salads for the family carryout. "You know, we sold more of those salads than anything else," Katz muses. "I don't know why."
Probably because it's one of those simple, classic combinations of ingredients that just plain taste good, Gary.
BLT SALAD (2 servings)
3 cups iceberg lettuce, shredded
1 medium tomato, chopped (approximately 1 cup)
4 pieces cooked bacon, crumbled (or 4 tablespoons bacon bits)
Heaping 1/4 cup dry croutons
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 to 2 tablespoons mayonnaise, or to taste
In a large bowl, combine lettuce, tomato, bacon, croutons, salt and pepper. Add mayonnaise, a bit at a time, to taste, gently tossing salad between additions. Serve immediately.
Per serving: 157 calories, 6 gm protein, 7 gm carbohydrates, 12 gm fat, 3 gm saturated fat, 15 mg cholesterol, 300 mg sodium.
Ellen Ficklen is a freelance writer based in Washington, D.C.