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BLT . . . in a Bowl

August 17, 1995|BEV BENNETT

For many back-yard farmers, the first BLT of the season is a ritual.

But I've got a better dish: tomato, basil and bacon salad.

This recipe is a cross between a BLT and the summer salad staple of tomatoes, basil and mozzarella--two favorites on one plate. It even includes the bread, made over into garlic croutons.

As tomato lovers know, the flavor of this salad depends upon the ingredients. Don't make substitutions for juicy, locally grown beefsteak tomatoes. Although half a cup of basil seems like a lot, it is a good balance for the cheese, tomatoes and bacon.

Serve this salad with baking powder biscuits, iced tea and a bowl of raspberries to truly celebrate summer.

TOMATO, BASIL AND BACON SALAD

Basil-flavored olive oil is available in most gourmet food stores. If not, it is easy to make. Pour 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil into cup. Add 2 or 3 minced basil leaves. Press with back of spoon to extract basil flavor from herb. Set aside 30 minutes. Use oil and discard basil. If desired, use plain, extra-virgin olive oil in the recipe instead.

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 clove garlic, smashed

1 slice rustic white bread, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

4 bacon strips

1 large beefsteak tomato

1/2 cup chopped basil

2 ounces (1/2 cup) diced mozzarella

freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon basil-flavored olive oil

1 1/2 teaspoons Sherry or red wine vinegar

Heat olive oil in large skillet. Add garlic and bread cubes. Toss over medium-high heat, turning frequently until bread cubes are browned, about 5 minutes. Remove with slotted spoon and set aside. Discard garlic.

Fry bacon in same skillet until crisp. Remove and drain, then crumble.

Core and dice tomato. Arrange in high pile on dinner plate. Top with basil and cheese. Sprinkle with bacon. Season generously with pepper to taste.

Whisk together basil-flavored oil and vinegar in cup. Pour over salad. Sprinkle with bread cubes.

Makes 2 servings.

Each serving contains about:

340 calories; 415 mg sodium; 33 mg cholesterol; 27 grams fat; 14 grams carbohydrates; 12 grams protein; 0.46 gram fiber.

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