BLT Panzanella

By Meredith Shanley
August 21, 2009
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Author Notes: I loved the BLT's my mom made me when I was little, with tomatoes fresh from her garden. They were still warm from the sun, and when combined with the salty bacon and crispy lettuce, along with the crumbly white toast (what is it that's so comforting about toasted bread?) and a healthy dollop of mayo, it was like summer on a plate. Living in Manhattan, Greenmarket tomatoes are the closest I get to tomatoes from the garden. My husband wanted grilled steak for dinner, and I wanted a BLT. So I made the BLT into a side dish and we both got our way. Ahhh, marriage and the art of compromise...Meredith Shanley

Food52 Review: What struck us immediately about Meredith Shanley's recipe was its cleverness. That and the fact that it calls for bacon. In a smart maneuver, Meredith not only uses cubed bacon in the salad, but she saves some of the drippings for the dressing, a bright lemony affair made creamy with Dijon mustard and a touch of mayo. The juices from the tomatoes meld with the dressing, helping to make a little go a long way, and peppery arugula keeps the salad from being too rich. Resist the temptation to use too much bread, or the salad won't be balanced the way it should be. - A&MThe Editors

Serves: 4

For the Salad

  • 1/2 large loaf ciabatta bread, cubed
  • 3 small to medium sized tomatoes, largely diced
  • 3 ounces slab bacon, cut into cubes
  • 3 handfuls arugula, roughly chopped

Creamy Lemon Dressing

  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • zest of 1/4 lemon
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon leftover bacon drippings
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons mayonnaise
  • Salt and fresh cracked pepper, to taste
  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. In a single layer on a cookie sheet, place cubed bread. Toast in oven until golden and dried through completely.
  3. In a medium sized saute pan, cook bacon until slightly crispy and nicely browned. Remove to paper towels, reserve 1 tsp drippings.
  4. Combine the dijon, lemon juice, zest, salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Whisk together bacon drippings and olive oil, then add in a slow stream to Dijon mixture.
  6. Once dressing is emulsified, whisk in mayonnaise until fully incorporated and slightly creamy.
  7. Toss tomatoes, bacon, bread, salt and fresh cracked black pepper with dressing.
  8. Just before serving, toss in arugula. Check for seasoning, serve.

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