At this point in the summer, appetizers and pre-dinner snacks can become pretty predictable. At our house, it tends to be all about crackers and soft cheese or salty almonds. These small bites can often feel rushed and a bit uninspired and yet they really can set the tone for a nice evening or event.
So last week we ditched the almonds and crackers and schemed up these little toasts with all the components of a great bacon, lettuce, and tomato sandwich in one small bite.
First things first: you've got to have delicious tomatoes to make these appetizers. I think there are some recipes that should really be reserved for summer when the tomatoes are sweet and ripe and you can't help but sneaking slices off of the cutting board — that's what you're looking for here. They are the star of the show.
Other than delicious tomatoes, the remaining ingredients for these toasts are pretty straightforward: a few slices of bacon, a handful of spinach and a batch of addictive avocado cream. I made a similar avocado dressing last year for this Whole Grain Salad with Mango and Creamy Avocado Dressing; ever since then, I whip up a batch every few weeks to use as a sandwich spread or to dress pasta or grain salads. It's a must-have in our house and, as you'll see, it's super simple to whip up.
All of the ingredients here should be easy to find at your local market. While a BLT is traditionally made with lettuce, obviously, I opted for spinach here as it doesn't wilt as easily and appears a little prettier on the toast than pieces of lettuce — bonus features when serving these at a party.
When I first put together the toasts, the spinach kept wanting to slide on off, so I now use a layer of avocado cream underneath and on top to sandwich the leaves right on top of the bread — works like a dream.
A quick side note for those of you needing to avoid gluten: We had some gluten-free friends who enjoyed these without the bread at all. You could slice a heartier piece of tomato and use that as the base instead of bread — I tried this when I was photographing this recipe today and they're great!
I hope this toast recipe gives you a little inspiration to break away from any snack or appetizer rut you may be in — or at the very least, gives you an idea for what to do with all the beautiful tomatoes at the markets right now.
BLT Bites with Avocado Cream
Makes 12 to 16 toasts
For the bites: 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 baguette, sliced into 1-inch thick pieces
4 ounces bacon (about 5 strips)
3 medium ripe tomatoes, cut into round slices
1/2 cup tightly packed spinach (or other hearty green)
For the avocado cream:
1/2 ripe avocado
2 tablespoons plain yogurt
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Few grinds freshly-ground black pepper
Warm the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Lay slices of bread in skillet in a single layer and toast until golden brown, about 2 minutes each side. Repeat as needed to toast all the slices.
Meanwhile, cook the bacon in a large nonstick skillet over medium-low heat until browned and crisp. Using tongs or a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon onto a paper towel to drain and cool slightly. Once cool, coarsely chop.
To make the avocado cream, blend all ingredients until creamy in a blender or food processor. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper if desired.
To assemble toasts: Spread a teaspoon or so of the avocado cream onto a slice of toasted bread and top with a tomato slice. Then add an additional spread of avocado cream, a few spinach leaves, another dollop of avocado cream, and top with a scattering of bacon pieces. Enjoy immediately.
This recipe will likely yield extra avocado cream. It's wonderful spread on toast or bagels, used as a thick salad dressing or a sauce on whole grains or pasta.
I use a runny European-style full-fat yogurt for the avocado cream as I prefer that it's loose and spreadable; you can certainly use a Greek yogurt but just know that the cream will be much firmer.