Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Bulking Up the Classic BLT without Adding Fat

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Bulking Up the Classic BLT without Adding Fat

Article excerpt

In terms of flavor and texture, it's hard to beat a bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich, reportedly one of the most popular sandwiches in America. Trouble is, it's not exactly filling.

I've always thought of the BLT as an air sandwich; it packs plenty of calories but demonstrates very little staying power. So here I've rejiggered the traditional recipe in ways that simultaneously slim it down and bulk it up.

The best news, to start, is that a little bacon goes a long way. I've used the real stuff no turkey bacon, please but less than usual, just a slice per sandwich. Meanwhile, I've amped up the protein with a small piece of crispy breaded tilapia. A sustainable fish choice, tilapia has a mild flavor with a firm texture, which keeps it from falling apart in the sandwich. But any firm-fleshed fish will do.

The tilapia is coated in flour that's been seasoned with smoked paprika, which nicely echoes the bacon's smokiness. The crunchiness comes in when the fish is dipped in egg whites and coated in panko breadcrumbs (everyone's favorite breadcrumb these days). The fish then is sauteed in a skillet and finished in the oven, a process requiring less oil than if it was cooked from start to finish on top of the stove.

I've flavored the mayo with lemon and fresh basil. Basil and tomato go together like love and marriage. And speaking of tomatoes, now is the time to splurge on the beefsteak heirloom tomatoes that may well be gracing your local farmers market. A properly grown, fully ripe tomato in season is one of the pleasures that make life worth living.

The standard lettuce of choice for a BLT is romaine, which I like for its crunch. But you certainly could swap it out for spinach or arugula. Finally, I've sliced the pita pockets horizontally to form two thin rounds. This little trick helps to cut back the usual amount of bread in a BLT. You end up eating one 6-inch pita instead of two slices of bread.

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'FRIED' FISH BLT PITAS

Yield: 4 servings

4 slices bacon

cup packed fresh basil leaves, finely chopped

cup light mayonnaise

4 teaspoons lemon juice

4 small tilapia fillets (about 2 ounces each)

Salt and ground black pepper

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 teaspoons smoked paprika

cup panko breadcrumbs

2 large egg whites

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

4 small whole-wheat pita pockets, halved to form 8 rounds

1 beefsteak tomato, sliced 1/3 inch thick

2 large romaine lettuce leaves, halved crosswise

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