BLTs Make Great Summer Appetizers!

In late July I traveled to York, Maine, to give weekend cooking classes at the beautiful Stonewall Kitchen Cooking School. My courses, held in the morning, ended at 1 PM, so afterwards I was anxious to try the Café in the large retail complex. A true foodie, I asked the staff at the school what I should order. “Get the BLT with avocados,” they all replied!
At the counter of the bustling café, my husband and I asked for iced tea and sandwiches. Honestly, I wasn’t expecting much because today’s BLTs never seem to be exceptional, but after one bite of the Stonewall Kitchen version, I changed my mind. The secret lay in the perfect summer ingredients used to craft the sandwiches. The tomatoes were crimson, ripe, and sweet, while the bacon was wood smoked and perfectly crisp. The avocado slices were silken smooth, and the white bread was high quality and toasted lightly. 

At home, I decided to create a mini-version of these BLTs as appetizers. I toasted baguette slices, rubbed them with garlic, then spread them with good purchased mayo. Next, I added basil leaves in place of lettuce, and topped them with slices of ripe tomatoes and avocados. Crisp Niman Ranch apple wood smoked bacon was fried, crumbled, and added as a garnish. Our friends ate with abandon and reached for seconds. We’re having more guests for wine and appetizers this week–these petit sandwiches are definitely going to be on the menu!
“BLT” Bruschette with Avocados
4 tablespoons olive oil plus extra if needed
18 baguette slices cut 3/8 inch thick on the diagonal
1 medium garlic clove peeled and cut

Mayonnaise for spreading on the bruschette

1 small bunch basil
3 medium tomatoes, cut into 1/4 inch thick slices and each slice halved
1 to 2 ripe but not mushy avocados, halved, pitted and thinly sliced lengthwise
Fleur de sel or kosher salt
 4 thick-cut smoked bacon slices, fried until crisp and then coarsely chopped

1.For the bruschette, arrange a rack at center position and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Brush bread slices on both sides with olive oil, using extra oil if needed. Place on a baking sheet and bake until golden, about 4 minutes per side. Watch carefully. Remove and cool slightly. Rub one side of each bread slice with the cut garlic clove. (Bruschette can be prepared 2 hours ahead. Cool, then cover loosely with foil; leave at room temperature.)
2. To assemble the bruschette, spread mayonnaise generously on garlic-rubbed side of each bread slice. Top each slice with 2 to 3 medium basil leaves, 1 to 2 tomato slices, and one avocado slice. Season each serving lightly with fleur de sel or kosher salt. Then garnish each bruschetta with a sprinkle of bacon. Serve immediately. Makes 18 bruschette or enough  for 6.

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