Sunday, April 25, 2010

Foodie Friday Favs - BLTs with a twist

These are really more like PATs, with pancetta, arugula, and heirloom tomato (in season). The original recipe also calls for burrata, which I have yet to find in Central Market (can find EVERYTHING there) or any other place I've looked in the area. Instead, we use fresh mozzarella. This is a great summer meal, served with a salad, because it can be served room temperature, requires little time in a hot kitchen, and shows off those summertime tomatoes. We recently found a tomato that almost tastes like summer, so I decided to use part of it in this recipe.

pancetta - 2 thick slices or 4 thin slices per sandwich
tomato slices - use a red heirloom
1/2 cup torn fresh basil leaves (use fresh, makes such a difference)
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons dried oregano (dried is ok here)
1/2 teaspoon fleur de sel or coarse kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste
slices of bread, enough for as many sandwiches you want to make
2 ounces of cheese per sandwich, burrata recommended, fresh mozzarella is an ok substitute
1/2 to 1 cup baby arugula or other fresh small greens

First, cook the pancetta as you would cook bacon.

We've tried it several ways, and thick slices of pancetta work the best. You can find it at an Italian market or a specialty grocer. I even found it in small town grocery store. Once it is cooked, drain it on paper towels and set it aside.

Meanwhile, marinade your tomatoes.

Slice the tomatoes to desired thickness and lay flat in a shallow pan. Add the oil, basil, salt, pepper, and oregano, and flip the tomatoes to make sure they are completely coated. Let them sit in the oil mixture at least 30 minutes and longer if you get busy in the garden or outside and lose track of time.

Assemble your bread. We've used ciabatta, potato bread, challah, Safeway bread (French loaf), and others. All of it is good, with the slightly more substantial breads standing up to the sandwich a little better. Thick slices of challah may be my favorite so far. Toast the bread slices to desired level of toastiness. Slice the mozzarella (or burrata if you're lucky enough to locate some) and spread it on one side of the sandwiches. Top the cheese with one tomato slice each, then with pancetta and arugula. Press the tops of the sandwiches lightly down. Sometimes we use a little less cheese on the first slice of bread in order to use some on the upper slice - it helps with sandwich integrity. Cut each sandwich in half and serve.

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