Start with the same ingredients as a BLT sandwich—bread, bacon, lettuce, tomato, and mayo—but end up with a salad instead. The transformation is all about teamwork. Bacon gets crisped up in a cast-iron skillet, then torn bread pieces get toasted in the rendered fat. Yellow tomatoes get tossed in the salad, while others get blended with mayo to create a tangy two-ingredient dressing. Like the classic BLT, I encourage you to be choosy, even fussy, about your ingredients here. Pick your favorite bread (I like sourdough, but what do you like? Whole-wheat? Rye?). Pick your favorite bacon (applewood-smoked? Pepper-crusted?). And pick the happiest-looking lettuce and tomatoes you can find. While I would never tell you one mayo is wrong and another is right, I will tell you that we did an office taste test, and Duke’s won. And don’t be shy with the salt and pepper. —Emma Laperruque
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thick slices sourdough bread
thick slices bacon, halved
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Cut the crust off the bread slices, then use your hand to tear the bread into haphazard pieces.
Add the bacon to a large cast-iron or nonstick skillet, then set over medium heat. Cook for about 8 minutes, or until it’s as crispy as you like (just remember it’ll continue to crisp as it cools). Transfer the bacon to a plate to cool—but leave the fat in the pan and leave the heat on.
Immediately add the bread pieces to the skillet with the fat. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, then toss until the bread is completely coated in the fat. Cook over medium heat for about 4 minutes, turning the bread as it browns on each side, until golden-brown and crispy on the outside but still squishy and soft if you squeeze a crouton with your fingers. Turn off the heat and let the bread cool.
Lop off the end of the butter lettuce, then pull apart the leaves. Tear the big ones into bite-size pieces; leave the little ones be. Wash, then dry very well (if there’s excess water on the lettuce, the dressing will slip right off).
Add a heaping ½ cup (about 100 grams) of the cherry tomatoes to a blender or food processor, along with the mayo, and a pinch each of salt and black pepper. Process until completely smooth and bright yellow, scraping down with a silicone spatula as needed. Taste and adjust the seasonings as needed.
Cut the remaining cherry tomatoes in half lengthwise. Break up the cooled bacon pieces into big bite-sized pieces with your hands.
Combine the prepped lettuce and bacon–fat croutons in a big bowl. Add the tomato-mayo dressing. Toss (preferably with your hands, but two spoons will do). Divide between two plates and evenly top with the tomatoes and bacon. Eat immediately.
Emma is a writer and recipe developer at Food52. Before this, she worked a lot of odd jobs, all at the same time. Think: stir-frying noodles "on the fly," baking dozens of pastries at 3 a.m., reviewing restaurants, and writing articles about everything from how to use leftover mashed potatoes to the history of pies in North Carolina. Now she lives in Maplewood, New Jersey with her husband and their cat, Butter. Stay tuned every Tuesday for Emma's cooking column, Big Little Recipes, all about big flavor and little ingredient lists. And see what she's up to on Instagram and Twitter at @emmalaperruque.