I was born in March. Not this past March, obviously, or my tiny fetal hands would have a much harder time typing this. My mom insists that when she was pregnant with me, she ate a BLT sandwich pretty much every day. That was her main “craving” I guess, and it stands to reason that I would like BLTs, right? Except I don’t. I’ve never even eaten a traditional BLT, and I’m 28 years old.
It’s not that I don’t like the idea of a sandwich that begins with bacon. I think it’s a fantastic idea. But two components of the sandwich throw me for such a giant loop that I’m unable to complete the transition from idea to actual meal.
First, mayonnaise. I detest mayonnaise in all of its devilish forms.
Second, tomatoes. As you know, I’ve recently embraced vine-ripened, in-season tomatoes. I’ll eat them with nothing more than a little sea salt, balsamic, and olive oil. But any tomato that can be found and eaten in the winter months can die in a fire. The months leading up to March definitely qualify as “winter.”
Some people love certain ingredients so much that they’ll eat them at any time of year, even if it’s not technically seasonal. I’m like that with sweets. I don’t even really care if it’s a quality dessert or not– if it has sugar, it’s going down the hatch. So I’m not going to judge my momma for eating tomatoes on her sandwiches while she was carrying my (near 10 lb) baby ass around. She just really likes tomatoes.
But I can’t do it.
And I can’t eat mayo. I’ve found that certain recipes call for a small amount of mayonnaise (like most dressings), and I’m okay with using it in those cases. It has to be freshly made, though. No jarred mayonnaise. Not even a teaspoon in a full cup of dressing. I don’t keep it in the house, and if anyone tries to sneak it in, they’ll be shot on sight. Zero tolerance. I’ve never had a traditional potato salad. I’ve never signed up to make deviled eggs. I just can’t get around the repugnance of mayonnaise.
Mayonnaise is easy to make, for being a potion moste fowle. You don’t need eye of newt or lizard’s tail or the blood of innocents. All it takes is a little bit of egg yolk, a bigger bit of oil, and some flavoring ingredients (salt and dijon mustard, notably). I make it in the blender. When I was in culinary school, I had to make it on a plate with a fork. I thought that was a giant pain in the ass for no reason, but the chef instructor assured us that at some point the topic would come up, and we’d be able to brag “I once had to make mayonnaise using a PLATE and a FORK. Turns out that time is now.
3 egg yolks at room temperature
2 C vegetable oil
1 T dijon mustard
1 t salt
Put yolks, mustard, and salt in a blender on low speed until they are combined. Slowly (SLOWLY) drizzle in the oil, increasing speed to medium partway through. The end result is creamy mayo. If it gets too thick, add a teaspoon of warmish water and then continue to drizzle in the oil.
I like to think my hatred for most savory, creamy, white foods (I don’t do mayo, ricotta, cottage cheese, cream cheese, sour cream, alfredo sauce, hollandaise, or any others, for the most part) is actually a blessing. Aren’t those the super-high-calorie garnishes on most foods? So I’ve probably saved billions of calories by avoiding them like the plague. I love German potato salad, with its vinegary-mustard dressing. And I love vinaigrettes. And I substitute plain yogurt for sour cream. Those were always just survival foods for me. Like I can eat what you’re eating, it just has to be slightly different.
I’m like one of the little people on TLC. I can do everything you can, just with some small adjustments.
But survival foods ended up being healthier foods. Rock on.
The BLT, though. Sigh. It has eluded me. You can’t eat it dry, right? Enter some creativity…
I DO like ranch dressing. And I like it on sandwiches (like turkey and bacon). So my tiny, undersized woman brain began to percolate. Why couldn’t I make a BLT with ranch dressing instead of mayo? Buttermilk ranch, when made at home, is way lower calorie than mayonnaise. Buttermilk is actually incredibly low calorie, and packs vast quantities of flavor punch. So if there’s a bit of mayo and a bit of buttermilk, that’s going to be better for me than two bits of mayo. Logic allstar!
So I made some mayonnaise, and then I made some ranch dressing. And the ranch dressing was KILLER. Seriously, delicious. It lasts a good week or so in the fridge, so you can definitely make a full batch and use it up. I modified the recipe from Simply Recipes to make it a little richer and a little easier.
Buttermilk Ranch Dressing
1 C buttermilk
.75 C mayonnaise
1 t lemon juice
.25 t paprika
.25 t dry mustard
.5 t salt
.25 t black pepper
1 T chopped fresh parsley
1 t chopped fresh chives
.25 t dried dill
Put it in the blender, or whisk it together until thick and fully combined. Allow it to sit in the fridge for at least 15 minutes so the flavors can meld together.
After tasting the dressing, it was so good that I didn’t want to just smear a touch of it on some bread and then overwhelm it with bacon and tomatoes and breadiness. So the BLT salad was born. I made some quick croutons (the new convection oven is actually gobsmackingly efficient at making croutons), chopped up some farmer’s market lettuce, cut some of my fresh slab bacon into little bacon bits, halved some cherry tomatoes, and WHAM. The BLT salad.
It was really, really, intensely satisfying. I spent some time trying to create “perfect bites,” where I had a crouton, a bacon baton, a tomato half, a piece of lettuce, and a drib of dressing on my fork all at once. Those were the best bites. But none of the other bites were half bad, either. That ranch would go great with anything short of pancakes, and the bacon is so good on its own, and the farm-fresh produce is more than willing to steal the show of any particular bite you’d like to introduce to your mouth…
BLT and I are striking up a tentative friendship. I guess it’s more of a BLRT, since it gets ranch, but if the original BLT doesn’t mention mayo in its moniker, then I don’t see why I have to add an “r.”
I run with gangs.
Anyway, make this for a light and healthy dinner at some point before the tomatoes go to March on you, and before a salad doesn’t feel like it’ll stick to your ribs enough to brace you against the winter cold.
When that cold hits, though, I’d go straight back to chicken and dumplings.