I'm a Los Angeles native, which means I have never owned a decent umbrella, I describe distances not in miles but in the number of minutes it takes to drive, and I believe sliced avocado belongs on a BLT. My first BLTA was probably at a diner — any Southern California diner worth its salt has at least an add-on avocado option for its BLT — and it was probably fine. It's hard to go wrong with the combination of crisp lettuce, salty bacon, ripe tomato and avocado. But this homemade version is much better, if only for the addition of a bright basil mayonnaise that makes every bite taste like a mouthful of summer.
Summer is the right season for this sandwich since you need a good tomato to make a good BLT. And when the weather is hot and the markets are bursting with fat heirloom tomatoes, you probably don't want to do much more in the kitchen than fry a few pieces of bacon and slice up an avocado.
But if you want to do just a little more work in exchange for a big reward flavor-wise, make a batch of garlic-basil mayonnaise. It's simple to throw together — basil, garlic, olive oil and lemon zest are blitzed together into a paste and mixed with store-bought mayonnaise — and makes more than you need for one sandwich. You'll have plenty left over to use for dipping raw vegetables or mixing into salad dressings. The recipe comes from Molly of Orangette, who tops deviled eggs with it, a use I highly recommend.
And while one could argue that nearly any sandwich is improved by a generous helping of avocado slices, I would say there is something particularly special about a BLT with avocado, as if there, nestled alongside salty bacon, tart tomato and crisp iceberg, is exactly where an avocado was meant to be.
Or maybe that's just me being an Angeleno.
California BLT with Avocado and Basil Mayonnaise
3 slices bacon
2 slices good-quality white bread
1 tomato, the best you can find
1/2 ripe avocado
Basil Mayonnaise (recipe follows)
In a large skillet, fry the bacon until crisp. Drain on a plate lined with paper towels. Toast the bread. Slice the tomatoes and avocado.
Spread one piece of bread with the basil mayonnaise. Top with the lettuce, tomato, bacon and as many avocado slices as you are happy to eat. Place the other slice of bread on top and cut in half if desired.
Adapted from Orangette
1/4 cup packed basil leaves
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
1 medium garlic clove, chopped
Zest of one lemon
1/2 cup mayonnaise
In a blender or small food processor, combine the basil, olive oil, lemon juice, garlic and lemon zest. Process until finely chopped and relatively smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl occasionally. (Large, tough basil leaves will probably stay fairly chunky, which is fine.)
Place the mayonnaise in a small bowl and whisk in the basil mixture until thoroughly combined. Store in the refrigerator, where it will keep for up to a week, though the color will dull after 2 days.
Related: Feed a Crowd: Throw a BLT Party
(Images: Anjali Prasertong)