BLT salad with avo‑li
from In Praise of Veg by Alice Zaslavsky
Let’s call this one a ‘sandwich salad’, where the bread is, let’s face it, entirely optional. Although it may seem like the avocado – or even tomato – is the hero here, I think it’s the lettuce that brings it all together. Bacon is definitely an optional extra; the ‘B’ could just as easily become an ‘M’ for ‘marinated tempeh’, which you can fry in a pan until golden and crispy. This is going to sound like an audacious statement, but Avo-li may just usurp ‘green goddess’ as the go-to green salad dressing. Feel free to make a double batch of it and serve it as a dip for any manner of things – most likely just your fingers.
500 g (1 lb 2 oz) mixed tomatoes (I like a mix of heirloom and cherry), halved or quartered if large
1 spring onion (scallion), finely chopped
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
100 g (3½ oz) streaky bacon rashers
½ head lettuce (butter or cos/romaine work best), leaves separated, washed and dried
½ head frisee, leaves separated, washed and dried (optional)
½ avocado, sliced into wedges
lemon wedges, to serve
crusty bread, to serve (optional)
½ cup (120 g) mayonnaise (home-made, or whole-egg store-bought)
3 tablespoons roughly chopped parsley
1 garlic clove, grated or crushed
1 ripe avocado, skin and stone discarded
— Method —
Preheat the oven to 240°C (475°F). Line a baking tray with foil.
Toss the tomatoes, spring onion and vinegar together in a bowl and set aside to pickle slightly.
Drape the bacon over a wire rack and place on the lined baking tray. Transfer to the oven and bake for 10 minutes, or until the bacon is golden. Remove from the oven and leave to cool slightly. If you like, use scissors to cut the bacon into bite-sized pieces.
Meanwhile, put the Avo-li ingredients in a food processor, add the pickling liquid from the tomatoes and blend until creamy and combined. (Alternatively, you can use a stick blender.) If your Avo-li splits, add a dash of warm water and use a whisk to bring it back together. Season to taste with sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper.
Spoon the Avo-li into a serving dish, smearing it around to the edge, as you might butter on toast. Top with the lettuce leaves, frisee (if using), avocado, tomato mixture and bacon pieces. Serve immediately, with lemon wedges and crusty bread, if you like.
Tip: No wire rack? Create a make-shift air-fryer! Cut a piece of foil twice the length of your baking tray, then fold it in half to create a stronger piece of foil. Crimp the short ends of the foil, in 2.5 cm (1 inch) intervals, folding back into itself, like you would a fan, until you reach the end. Open the fan out to create a ‘rack’, then use it to line your baking tray. Once you’re finished cooking, harvest the bacon fat trapped in the foil for making pasta carbonara or pea and ham soup.
Shortcut: No time to make the Avo-li? Serve the avocado as wedges, and squirt some Kewpie mayo across the top of your salad.
Double duty: Turn any leftovers into an actual BLT for lunch the next day.
Images and text from In Praise of Veg by Alice Zaslavsky, photography by Ben Dearnley. Murdoch Books RRP $59.99