This Smart Trick Makes Subpar Tomatoes Worthy of a Perfect BLT

published Aug 2, 2021
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Someone assembling BLT sandwich, placing bacon on top
Credit: Photo: Tara Donne | Food Stylist: Cyd McDowell

A friend of mine told me the other day that she rarely cooks meat in her home since her partner is vegan, but once a year she makes a special exception: her annual perfect BLT. As someone who cooks meat and is also easily distracted by delicious foods, I’ve had BLTs on my mind since then — watching the summer tomatoes as they grow ripe on the vine and waiting for the right moment to grab one and make my own perfect BLT.

Since the tomatoes aren’t quite ready yet, I was delighted when I came upon a fantastic tip from Chef Clare de Boer of New York’s King restaurant for how to improve any subpar tomatoes and make them BLT-worthy. Two years ago she kept track of what she cooked for a week for the New York Times, and we got a glimpse into her husband’s BLT method: He marinates tomato slices with a splash of red wine vinegar, olive oil, and salt while cooking the bacon. “This turns the dreariest tomato into a fantasy of a San Marzano,” she explains. “This version is perfect,” declares the headnote in the accompanying recipe for the sandwich. 

Food blog Well Plated backs up the declaration, writing that ever since seeing the tip in the Times, red wine vinegar has become necessary for all BLTs. “Dressing the tomatoes in a little red wine vinegar heightens their sweet taste and makes this BLT recipe soar,” blogger Erin Clarke explains. “It also soaks into the bread a little, which ensures your BLT does not taste dry.”

As an impatient person, I am still excited about the arrival of the summer’s best tomatoes. But I’m equally excited to get ready for BLT season with this little trick so I don’t have to glare at my plants until they manage to ripen.