Traditional BLTs can be delicious, but sometimes they're lacking. Apart from the usual caloric overload, there doesn't seem to be enough acidity in the sandwich to balance the fat.
My alternative offers a dose of vinegar to achieve that balance. To be sure the sandwich has enough bite, I use baby arugula, a wonderfully bitter green that is readily available this time of year. Instead of regular, fatty bacon, I use pancetta, an unsmoked Italian bacon that is meaty and mild-tasting.
This open-faced sandwich is built with care. Slices of Italian or country bread are grilled, then topped with a lightly dressed salad. Grilling the pancetta instead of placing it under the broiler will keep it from shrinking. To seal the deal, a thin slice of fresh mozzarella melts from the heat of the grill or a hot oven. For me, it's lunch.
- 2 ounces (about 4 cups) baby arugula, washed and spun dry
- 4 ounces vine-ripened tomato, peeled and seeded if desired, cut into 1/4- to 1/2-inch pieces (1 cup)
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 1 1/2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 4 slices Italian or country bread (about 3/4 ounces each)
- 8 thin slices pancetta (3 to 4 ounces total)
- 4 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into 8 thin slices
Prepare the grill for direct heat. If using a gas grill, preheat to medium-high (450 degrees). If using a charcoal grill, light the charcoal or wood briquettes; when the briquettes are ready, distribute them evenly under the cooking area. For a medium-hot fire, you should be able to hold your hand about 6 inches above the coals for about 4 or 5 seconds. Lightly coat a grill rack with oil and place it on the grill.
(Alternatively, position an oven rack 4 to 6 inches from the top broiler element; preheat the broiler.)
Toss together the arugula, tomato, oil, vinegar, salt and the pepper to taste in a medium bowl.
Grill or broil the bread for 2 to 3 minutes on each side, until it is lightly browned or has good grill marks. Transfer the bread to a large piece of aluminum foil.
Top each slice with one-quarter of the arugula-tomato salad; distribute the pancetta and then the mozzarella evenly to form open-faced sandwiches.
Return, with the foil, to the grill or broiler and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, until the cheese melts. Serve hot.
From Nourish columnist Stephanie Witt Sedgwick.
Tested by Stephanie Witt Sedgwick.
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