BLT salad with avo‑li

blt

BLT salad with avo‑li (Serves 4)
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.

— Ingredients —

 

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)

Avo-li

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