BLT’s are my favorite, but I’ve always thought that those 3 ingredients, the bacon, the lettuce and the tomato, aren’t enough! I always add avocado and cheese (Wisconsin native!), but when so much is coming out of the garden I just want to keep adding.
I make batches of pesto and store the extra jars in the freezer as a way of preserving my garden greens, basil for sure but I also throw in Swiss chard, kale, spinach or arugula, whatever needs to be used. It stretches your basil, adds nutrition, and those little green jars are like frozen gold in the middle of winter. A bit of pesto mixed with mayo makes the spread on these BLT’s (aioli is just fancy for mayo, usually homemade mayo with raw egg and oil, but we’re skipping that here), but if you don’t want to do the pesto step, just mayo works too. If you’ve ever frozen pesto in ice cube trays, this aioli is the perfect way to use up a couple cubes. A huge ciabatta loaf makes for a “sandwich for dinner” kind of menu, and since my garden has more cucumbers than I know what to do with, I’m adding them too.
All the extra veg might lessen the kid-friendly appeal, but for my kids, I serve them a fully loaded wedge with all the fixings and encourage them not to take it apart. They usually do anyway, but it’s still a family favorite.
Garden BLT’s with Pesto Aioli
- For the Pesto:
- 1/4 c pine nuts best if toasted in a dry pan, don’t burn!
- 2 cloves garlic
- 4 c garden greens including some or all basil, or any combination of Swiss chard, kale, spinach, or arugula – washed and tough stems removed
- 1 t kosher salt
- 10 grinds pepper
- 1 juice of a lemon
- 1/3 c Parmesan cheese grated
- 1/3 c olive oil
- 1/3 c water
- For the Sandwiches:
- 2 T mayo
- 1 package bacon
- 1 loaf Ciabatta Bread
- tomato sliced
- cucumber sliced
- 1 avocado sliced
- white cheese slices any kind such as provolone, muenster, havarti or white cheddar
- In a food processor, add all pesto ingredients (pine nuts, garlic, greens, salt, pepper, lemon juice, Parmesan) except olive oil and water and process.
- With food processor running, drizzle in the oil and water through the feed tube until smooth , about 2 minutes (stop to scrape down the sides with a spatula).
- Combine 2 T of the pesto with 2 T mayo and store the rest of the pesto in small jars or ice cube trays and freeze.
- Preheat oven to 400° convection bake, cook bacon on a large sheet pan until crisp, about 20 minutes but check it often and flip bacon if needed, drain on paper towel, extra bacon can be frozen and used in omelets, breakfast tacos, or pasta dishes with veggies and cream.
- While the bacon is cooking, prepare other ingredients, slice Ciabatta open and toast slightly in the oven, slice veggies.
- Assemble sandwiches spread with the pesto aioli, lettuce, tomato, cucumber, bacon, cheese and avocado. Cut into wedges and serve.