Traverse City Record-Eagle

Life

July 3, 2014

Bulking up the classic BLT without adding fat

In terms of flavor and texture, it’s hard to beat a bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich, reportedly one of the most popular sandwiches in America. Trouble is, it’s not exactly filling.

I’ve always thought of the BLT as an air sandwich; it packs plenty of calories but demonstrates very little staying power. So here I’ve rejiggered the traditional recipe in ways that simultaneously slim it down and bulk it up.

The best news, to start, is that a little bacon goes a long way. I’ve used the real stuff — no turkey bacon, please — but less than usual, just a slice per sandwich. Meanwhile, I’ve amped up the protein with a small piece of crispy breaded tilapia. A sustainable fish choice, tilapia has a mild flavor with a firm texture, which keeps it from falling apart in the sandwich. But any firm-fleshed fish will do.

The tilapia is coated in flour that’s been seasoned with smoked paprika, which nicely echoes the bacon’s smokiness. The crunchiness comes in when the fish is dipped in egg whites and coated in panko breadcrumbs (everyone’s favorite breadcrumb these days). The fish then is sauteed in a skillet and finished in the oven, a process requiring less oil than if it was cooked from start to finish on top of the stove.

Fried fish BLT pitas

Start to finish: 35 minutes

Servings: 4

4 slices bacon

1/2 cup packed fresh basil leaves, finely chopped

1/2 cup light mayonnaise

4 teaspoons lemon juice

4 small tilapia fillets (about 21/2 ounces each)

Salt and ground black pepper

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

11/2 teaspoons smoked paprika

3/4 cup panko breadcrumbs

2 large egg whites

21/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

Four small whole-wheat pita pockets, halved to form 8 rounds

1 beefsteak tomato, sliced 1/3 inch thick

2 large romaine lettuce leaves, halved crosswise

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